Supporting Families
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Tuesday, 21 December 2021 08:09

KentAdvice: Review of Seventeen Years of Support for Families

Index

 Page Three: Early Articles
The initial articles I published on the predecessor site to KentAdvice were lost during the changeover, but the first I can still  find was previously published in the brilliant campaigning newspaper Kent on Sunday, in July 2004. Both of the editors, firstly Ian Patel and then Chris Britcher, recognised that a good education was critical for all the children of Kent and so gave it an appropriately high profile. Entitled Kent Unplaced Pupils by Area that first article began 'The current chaos in the Kent secondary school transfer procedure is further underlined by enormous variations in the number of children with no school of their choice, district by district across Kent'. You will find many other KOS items in the Newspaper Articles section, others still in the More News section and in News Archives, although a few have somehow lost all but the headlines. Sadly, perhaps because of the priority of Covid, local media of all shades now appear far less interested in education stories that affect so many children's lives across the county. 

Kent on Sunday also publicised my articles on the first major scandal I tackled in 2010 when KCC officers, without the knowledge of their own Cabinet Member, developed a policy to scrap all SEN Units and replace them with Lead mainstream schools theoretically able to replicate the offering. Four major articles, most put on the front page, began with my exposing the issue here, and following (2), (3) and (4). This was the first time I came across senior KCC Officers lying to the Cabinet Member, which I also saw at first hand in a meeting. Solely, I believe thanks to the pressure I put on KCC and backed up by KOS, most SEN Units were retained by the county, and a greatly expanded offering of Units now forms a major part of the structure to support children with Special Needs. By an odd twist, around 2015, I was campaigning to stop the failed Furness Special School from being closed down, it being helped on its way down by the notorious Lilac Sky Academies Trust, backed by KCC Officers in spite of the evidence I presented as to their corruption. Initial article here. Instead KCC now argued contrary to parental views, that in general parents preferred Units to Special Schools. The campaign to save the school was successful after KCC Leader Paul Carter backed it, details here, with links back to previous articles. The school now thrives on the same site as part of the Broomhill Bank Special School, and has recently been found to offer Outstanding Residential Care by Ofsted.  

In 2011, I began campaigning about the very high number of permanent exclusions from Kent schools, especially the number of children with Statements of SEN, as explained here. I appeared on local television and radio, naturally supported by KOS, and enlisted the aid of Paul Carter, then Cabinet Member for Education. There followed a dramatic fall across the board, so that today Kent has one of the lowest rates of permanent exclusion in the country, including those with what are now called Education and Health Care Plans. 

Not so widely read, but very important has been my series of articles on the PFI scandal, most recently here, which has seen tens of millions of pounds of Kent taxpayer money pour into the pockets of offshore finance companies every year over a thirty year period, a high proportion of this going  in extortionate interest rates, whilst blocking ten schools from academising. My first item in 2010 was here, which lists all rebuilding programmes completed, in progress or cancelled. It makes fascinating reading for those interested, to consider the present fate of these schools. A 2011 article records that both Holmesdale and The North schools were planning to academise, but ten years later neither has happened, although it is reported that an announcement on The North School conversion may be expected shortly. As noted in a recent article earlier this year, I take some responsibility for Paul Carter's decision to block PFI schools from academising, having exposed the issue on the grounds that KCC should not pay continue to pay debts on  academies that are funded directly by government and run independently of KCC. Many other Local Authorities have subsequently gone down the same path.  

Next Page: Information and Advice

Last modified on Wednesday, 19 January 2022 04:25

10 comments

  • Comment Link Thursday, 06 January 2022 19:37 posted by Long Serving Teacher at an unfashionable school

    I see that Tracey Luke, a Trustee of Turner Schools and Chair of Turner Free School governors has been awarded an MBE in the New Year Honours List. Lee Bailey Deputy CEO of Thinking Schools Academy Trust had the same award in 2020. Is it a coincidence that you describe both Trusts as 'government favoured', after a series of articles demonstrating the failures of both. PETER: Few Kent and Medway school teachers and leaders receive awards, although there are plenty of outstanding schools, but these two highly controversial Trusts seem to be showered with government goodies, so I am not surprised. For reference there was also an OBE for William Oakes, former Head of Dartford Grammar, and two more MBEs for Education relating to Kent schools, the first for David Sharp, for Broadcasting and Education, who runs a radio station based in one of Turner SChools! The second is for a member of staff at The Abbey School; see my leading article on its decline on my Blog page!

  • Comment Link Wednesday, 05 January 2022 22:36 posted by Seeker after Truth

    KCC officers have 'enjoyed' a reputation of being a political body for many years, led by those at the top. Your evidence makes clear that this is true. PETER: It may be that things are changing with the appointment of a new Director of Education and Cabinet Member for Education. There is also a Corporate Director Children, Young People and Education, although I am not sure what his role is.

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 04 January 2022 23:09 posted by Richard Thompson

    What an amazing story, together with evidence of the events described.

  • Comment Link Saturday, 01 January 2022 23:26 posted by EHCP parent

    Congratulations on halting the removal of all Kent SEN Units as described in 'Early Articles' and also bringing about a dramatic reduction in the number of statemented pupils being expelled. You give equal credit to Sir Paul Carter and Kent on Sunday, but the fact remains, without your exposing the malpractices many EHCP children would have suffered. We should all congratulate you on these victories. Thank you. PETER: Actually all I did was to expose these two malpractices. Others followed through with action.

  • Comment Link Saturday, 01 January 2022 20:07 posted by Ex Member of Staff Folkestone Academy

    Your efforts to shine a light in the darkness of Turner Schools are to be commended. Sadly, in spite of your many other successes chronicled above, you were unable to break through on this one, probably because of government protection for the CEO who presided over such a disastrous regime. Still, I forgive you! Enjoy your retirement, although somehow I don't believe you can walk away completely.

  • Comment Link Saturday, 01 January 2022 08:36 posted by Kent Resident

    Wow! Peter, this is certainly a unique record of monitoring schools in the county. It puts Ofsted and the County Council in the shade. And all for free. You should be publicly praised for the many achievements you have listed, not just allowed to slip away quietly.

  • Comment Link Friday, 31 December 2021 13:42 posted by Andrew Lancaster

    Peter, I echo the appreciation from Julia, below. One of the individual features you often apply, is so often to follow a story through in an unexpected direction. I have in mind your item: The Battle of Pimlico Academy, a twist at the end of the tragedy of Ebbsfleet Academy. PETER: You will find it at http://www.kentadvice.co.uk/peters-blog/item/1386-pimlico-academy-and-its-kent-connections.html

  • Comment Link Friday, 31 December 2021 13:26 posted by Julia

    Comment About Ebbsfleet Academy:
    I would like to wish you a very happy and enjoyable retirement. I'm sure I am among the growing numbers of readers of your blog that will miss your updates on the state of our schools and education as a whole. Your words of wisdom have helped many of us face the difficulties that education can bring. Not only as parents but also staff members of schools that have been taken over by people who call themselves teachers but really haven't got a clue about the real meaning of education and the welfare of young people placed in our care during the most important time of their lives.
    I was very lucky to have worked at a school for the last 7 years of my working days, where the Headteacher was a man of very high principles and had such a wonderful duty of care as to how we could help the students in our school. He certainly lead by example and he had the respect of the staff and students alike. The school was Swan Valley Community School and the Headteacher was Nigel Jones. He had such a wonderful presence about him, he could see the potential in all of his staff and students alike. If the students needed a guiding hand his was the first one to be held out to them. It was a very sad day when we were told he had left the school. It was a terrible day for us all. Then suddenly the heart of the school had been removed. We all felt the lost immensely.
    But we could rely on you to give us the encouragement to continue as we tried to carry on his work. Though sadly for many of us we were beaten down by the new regime. In one end of term it was nearly a complete staff walkout. We couldn't take the constant comments of 'in the predecessor school administration' etc etc. All they did was belittle a man who turned the school around in his time there and cast a long shadow over the school when he left and they weren't worthy of walking in his shadow. But through all that you always spoke so well of him and his time at the school. We always thought you were there for us. You still to this day give him the credit he so richly deserves.
    So Peter I thank you very much for your time and commitment to this site and also thank you for all the help and encouragement you gave parents and staff when they needed it.

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