Supporting Families
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Tuesday, 21 December 2021 08:09

KentAdvice: Review of Seventeen Years of Support for Families

Index

 Page Four: Information and Advice
It is important to stress that whilst the majority of the six hundred plus news items about schools and Trusts that have appeared on Kentadvice are those that are failing their children in one way or another, in total these are still a very small number of the 681 Kent and Medway state schools, the great majority of which are well run and well managed by capable and hardworking staff, but rarely make headlines, except in the many stories about performance by different criteria.
The 200 or so information and advice and advice articles have been in existence for most of the lifetime of the website, being regularly updated on at least an annual basis. You can see them listed at the top of the right hand side of most pages on the site, with links to each of the many subsections contained. Unfortunately, time constraints have seen me falling behind in several important areas, including the last three sections on the list, but I am now trying to post the date of the latest revision at the top of each item and will bring these three items up to date, as I am able. At update time, I try and put links to relevant news items into each section, but this is not comprehensive, so I suggest you use the search engine to check. 
 
Amongst the more unusual items is University of Roehampton: Calling all teachers holding Certificates of Education, which informed these teachers that they were now entitled to apply for an Honorary B.Ed Degree, after my wife discovered the opportunity. The article created a widespread interest amongst teachers who had qualified before the profession became a graduate one, and other institutions followed suit, whilst I was overwhelmed with enquiries although i had no special knowledge on the matter. 
 
Performance  
In the last decade, standards in both Kent and Medway primary schools have improved considerably from a very low point in 2010-11, described here, both in absolute terms and compared to other Local Authorities. In general, secondary schools have performed better, both through Ofsted assessments and GCSE performance, the high rate of academisation surely playing an important part, although the lack of accountability for some has been a constant theme. Two recent articles, here and here, firstly survey the academy sector, and secondly give links to a wide range of articles about individual schools.

The important government data on school performance published annually, came to an abrupt halt in 2019 because Covid played havoc with pupils patterns of learning to the extent that comparison of school results became fairly meaningless. There are regular reports on Ofsted performance throughout (with the latest bringing them up to date, to be published shortly), and also annual  articles on Key Stage Two and GCSE & A Level results, most recently in 2019. I also publish annual data about Exclusions and Home Education (2020-2021 to follow) across the county, and outcomes of the Kent (follow up article to include Review to follow) and Medway Tests.

Admission Appeals
Many parents visit KentAdvice for the first time seeking advice about admission appeals, I publish an annual report on outcomes for both secondary and primary appeals, the latter being especially difficult to win, with the 2021 article published here. All grammar schools hold appeals and around half of non-selective schools, although the latter can vary year on year. In addition, the secondary Individual School sections for Kent and Medway, provide a comprehensive report on the appeal outcomes for every school over the last six years where appeals have been heard, which can provide excellent guidance on the chances of success. Outcomes do vary greatly for some schools, but most will follow a rough pattern, ranging  from 0% up to 100% of appeals upheld.
 
Elective Home Education
The government does not publish a record of families taking up Elective Home Education (EHE), in spite of increasing pressure, including a Report in February 2019 by Anne Longfield, then Children's Commissioner, pressing for changes to the current negligible legislation covering the issue. She came up with five strong recommendations, none of which have been implemented so far. I was pleased to be interviewed by her, for a television documentary on the topic. Whilst families can take up the option, Local Authorities have no powers to investigate the nature of EHE, if any, offered to the individual children. My article on the Report looks at the issues in more detail through Kent eyes, including the case of Oasis Academy, Isle of Sheppey, which had the highest proportion of children in Kent opting for Home Education the previous year, to the extent that a local support group had nearly 150 members from the Island, and it was clear that off-rolling was taking place. When I explored off-rolling in an analysis a year later, the Oasis figures had dropped out of sight, as had Ebbsfleet Academy which had record numbers in 2016-17 under its previous Principal. I keep an annual record of EHE numbers by school in Kent and Medway, publishing those with a high proportion of pupils taking up the option, or simply vanishing fromm school, most recently for 2019-20, with 2020-21 in progress showing an increase in Kent numbers to a record 1485, perhaps not surprising given Covid. 
 
Next Page: School and Trust Closures; Grammar Schools; and Finally

Last modified on Thursday, 27 January 2022 04:59

10 comments

  • 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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