Supporting Families
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Tuesday, 21 December 2021 08:09

KentAdvice: Review of Seventeen Years of Support for Families

Index

This article is a follow-up from my previous, below, which reported that I am retiring from running this website, KentAdvice, and probably my involvement in education. It looks across the fifteen years the site has run, at some of the highlights and key issues that have featured. During most of that time, and for two years previously, I ran a parallel personal consultation service supporting families who had problems with schools or the education service across Kent and Medway.

Can I begin by thanking the many correspondents, both parents and professionals, who have sent messages of appreciation following my initial article, with two very different messages: firstly from the many families who have written to thank me for the advice and information on the site and/or my consultation service, from which they have benefitted;  and secondly as summarised by a headteacher - ‘Your tenacity in ensuring no stone was left unturned in exposing situations that were harming the educational chances of Kent children needs to be applauded.

As well as the website and my consultation service, I have also worked extensively behind the scenes with some schools, together with individual governors, headteachers, staff and parents, where there have been problems in their institutions. These have all contributed to my unique insight into schools across Kent and Medway.

Sections Below
Introduction
Please note that many of the schools and Trusts referred to below have multiple articles written about them. The search engine on this site (top left hand corner of each page) will lead you to these and items about many other schools and local education matters. The top right hand side of each page lists all of the more than two hundred information and advice pages. Unfortunately, many of these have not been updated for some time and, although I will continue this process as long as the site is active (planned until November 2022) some will not be reached. 
 
I have resisted looking at national issues, on the dual grounds that I have nothing to offer that is unavailable elsewhere, and also that I have had more than enough local material to manage in the time available to me.

As a result, I am aware  I have  not reported on many of the consequences of the biggest challenge to schools for generations, that of the Covid pandemic which is regularly covered by national media. I have even resisted commenting on the appalling actions of so called ‘Anti Vaxers’ who have targeted schoolchildren, teachers and staff, many with a belief in a fantasy world of conspiracy. Headteachers have been a particular prey to add to their other Covid challenges, many receiving threats of different natures, whilst some have even had death threats issued.

Amazingly, school staff still get a bad press through the pandemic from some ignoramuses. All those I know, both teachers and support staff, are working flat out to support children some of whom are still at home with remote learning and some at school, along with filling in for other teachers who have either succumbed to Covid or are being told to isolate,dealing with a regime of regular Covid testing, and the ever changing rules for managing schools during the pandemic . Yes, headteachers are having to use extensive supply staff to cover absences, along with other strategies to minimise the effect on children and keep schools open, with the effects of Covid varying enormously from school to school. Of course, the NHS comes first, but spare a thought for our wonderful teachers and support staff, who are responsible for the country’s most important asset bar none, our children. It is too soon to assess the emotional and educational damage inflicted on a generation of children, but please care for the many whose lives will be permanently damaged through mental illness, or a ruptured education. Like many others, I also fear for the supply of the next generation of headteachers, as the role becomes ever more challenging and less attractive to many, especially in the more difficult schools.   

Earlier this year, I published a Guide to Academies, Free Schools and UTCs in Kent and Medway, which surveyed the whole field of academisation, and provides links to other features. I have also published several guides to Sixth Form choices, most recently here, which has been widely read, and is reproduced in part in the annual Kent Messenger The Next Step, distributed to Year 11 pupils in most Kent schools.

If you believe I have omitted a major theme in this article, please let me know and I will consider adding it in. 

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Last modified on Thursday, 27 January 2022 04:59

10 comments

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 11 January 2022 19:37 posted by Angela Thomas (ex-Ebbsfleet staff)

    I see that, although unnamed, you refer three times to Simon Webb, now a County Councillor in Kent. You could also have referred to his part in the surely unlawful and certainly disastrous appointment of Alison Colwell as Principal of Ebbsfleet Academy. PETER: Too many things had to be left out. . You can find a link back to the story at: https://www.kentadvice.co.uk/peters-blog/news-a-comments/item/1405-simon-webb-kent-county-councillor.html

  • Comment Link Thursday, 06 January 2022 23:47 posted by keith

    Somehow, Peter, I don't think you will be officially recognised in spite of a life time of outstanding service for the children of Kent, of which only the last 17 years are outlined here. So don't hold your breath! PETER: Thanks for the acknowledgement, I won't.

  • 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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