Supporting Families
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Thursday, 27 February 2020 04:58

Complete Retirement from Advisory Service

I regret to confirm that I have retired completely from my individual advisory service for Kent and Medway families after sixteen years. I continue to be asked if I can make an exception by previous clients, professionals, friends and others across Kent and Medway and further afield, but I am afraid my decision is final. 

Please note that much of my work depends on information sent in by parents and professionals who also highlight areas where website pages need updating,. Please keep this coming. 

Over that time I have supported over a thousand clients on a professional basis in various ways, who are seeking individual advice and support on school admissions and appeals, along with Special Education Needs, school exclusions, complaints and other matters. In addition, I have provided a large number of free services of the same nature for families without the resources to engage me on a paid basis, and also worked with governors, teachers and parents with problems at individual schools, many of which have eventually featured on these pages.   

I will continue to run the nationally unique website, currently with over a thousand pages of advice and information for Kent and Medway families, along with news and comment on matters of relevant concern and interest,as I believe it meets an important need. As you can imagine, this takes a vast amount of time to keep up to date, my most recent offering being a unique analysis of the recent Kent Test.  I am currently preparing for the what will still be the busiest time of the year, publishing outcomes and analysis of the secondary transfer decisions due out on 1st March. 

The most time consuming section of the website is the Individual Schools Section, including a profile of each individual secondary school in Kent and Medway, along with a variety of data which is up to date at the time of writing. I expect to post details here of individual secondary school allocations for September 2020, around the middle of March. The Website Panel on the right hand side of this article will lead you to a host of information and advice articles on matters such as school admissions, grammar school admissions, school appeals, Special Education (needs considerable re-writing and updating), academies and academy groups, etc. 

Please continue to assist by highlighting areas where information needs updating, and by feeding me information about matters of concern.

Apart from several advertisements that subsidise the cost of running the website, it produces no other income. Can I therefore encourage you to make a small donation of £15 towards the running costs, payable here.  Also, feel free to contact me if you would like to advertise your school, tutoring or other educational service on a site that has some 200,000 visitors annually, with presumably the overwhelming majority having an interest in Kent and Medway education matters on every one of those 1,000 pages. The cost is surprisingly low. 

I remain very saddened that there is no one knowledgeable enough about the relevant aspects of education in Kent, who is willing to take on my unique advisory service, dependent as it on local knowledge of individual schools and processes. I have discussed it with several educationalists, but each has backed off upon realising the scale of the task. I continue to receive enquiries across England, from families desperate for assistance which sadly I am unable to offer. However, these will be families who have the wherewithal to make such approaches.

There is a desperate need for advocates for those unable to help themselves who are in need of independent educational advice of support. This is an approach which was tried some years ago in Kent, funding advocates for supporting such families with school admissions. I was initially invited to be part of this, but KCC officers were not having it, and ran the scheme themselves, completely destroying the point. Some time later it was scrapped. A recent meeting of the KCC Corporate Parenting Panel  was disturbed to discover that Children in Care were less likely than others to gain access to more popular schools - answer, no independent advice or advocates. Special Educational Needs are another area, where those who are able to afford professional support  can often make faster and further progress in settling an agreed programme of provision. I am shortly going to publish a full statistical analysis of a complex system, which sees too many children being allocated expensive private school places by an SEN First-Tier formal Tribunal, where legal representatives from both sides argue the case. A few years ago, I was quoted in the Daily Mail as arguing that 'middle-class' families had an advantage in this process, but was then criticised by KCC Officers who disagreed with my view and could not see the problem. 

I also continue to receive enquiries from local and national media who establish from internet searches that I have a unique independent source of knowledge and opinion on various educational matters. One  classic example is that of off-rolling in its different forms: before GCSE; half way through A Level courses; and generally forcing out undesirable pupils. Others are school admissions, appeals and  exclusions. Bizarrely, Kent and Medway media appear far less interested for reasons I don't completely understand, except that my outspoken independence is not always appreciated.  

As you can see, my decision to retire from offering individual advice certainly does not mean I am winding back any of my other activities. 







Last modified on Sunday, 01 March 2020 19:31

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