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Displaying items by tag: medway - Kent Independent Education Advice
Wednesday, 27 June 2012 07:52

Medway: new Director & Medway tests

Medway has a new Director of Children and Adult Services, to replace  Rose Collinson, who leaves the service at the end of July having seen her last few years dogged by major problems in the education sector. It may be that the amalgamation of various departments to form this enormous range of responsibilities is too much for one person to run, the portfolio including responsibility for schools, adoption and fostering, children’s social care, special education needs, youth services, working with the voluntary sector, and adult social care and physical and learning disabilities. Medway Council has appointed Barbara Peacock to the post. She is currently Corporate Director - People at Sandwell Borough Council in the West Midlands, with specific responsibilities for  Adult Social Services and Children’s Social Services, but with oversight of the Learning and Culture department. This appears a similar role to her new appointment, but her background is in Social Services, so I hope she is able to get to grips with......
Published in Peter's Blog

The main secondary school appeals are now ended, although places are still being freed up, mainly in non-selective schools through movement in waiting lists. This article is an overview of the latest situation across Kent and Medway, although I am happy to be corrected on details or to add in additional items. In particular,  information on non-selective school situations would be helpful.

 For grammar schools, the main pressure area has been West & North West Kent for boys,   with Tunbridge Wells Grammar school for Boys having 89 appeals, and Wilmington Grammar School for Boys having around 70. As a result Kent County Council came under considerable pressure  from families whose sons had passed the 11+, but had no grammar school place. In the event,  nearly all of these boys have been offered places off waiting lists or at appeals, with TWGSB taking 32 at appeal, Wilmington over 30,  Gravesend Grammar taking in nearly all who had passed without the need to go to appeal. 

Oakwood Park in Maidstone has also taken up a number of these and, after appeals, now has 164 places allocated, leaving its additional form of entry only part filled. As a result, this OFSTED ‘Outstanding school’  is surprisingly still welcoming applications from anyone who has passed and should be able to offer the vacant places without appeal.   I believe that otherwise all these schools are now full, along with Skinners, Judd, Dartford Grammar Boys and Maidstone Grammar. Interestingly, admission authorities can accept a second appeal .......“because of a significant and material change in the circumstances of the parent or child”.  For example, if your child comes up with two Level 5s in the recent SATs it may be worthwhile  asking  a grammar school with vacancies if it will consider a second appeal (it has an absolute right to say no). ......... 

Published in News Archive

Medway Council has issued the following statement:

Rose Collinson, Director of Children and Adults Services is leaving the employment of the Council on 31 July 2012. This follows a successful career at Medway where Rose has led and overseen a number of important achievements.  The more notable include: 

- establishing an integrated children's service and an effective children's trust

 - secured significant investment and managed the setting up of three academies, replacing some underperforming schools

 - implementing transformational change in children's and adults services to make a difference to the learning and life chances of residents across Medway.

 Throughout her time at Medway, Rose has been a dedicated and professional senior officer, demonstrating great passion to improve the lives of children, young people and vulnerable adults.  She has been a strong advocate and champion for children, families and adults across Medway. The council would like to express thanks to Rose and wish her well for the future.

Rose has certainly had an eventful few years recently,.......

Published in Peter's Blog

An abbreviated version of this article appeared in Kent on Sunday 0n 25th March 2012. It is drawn from two other articles on this website: Oversubscription and Vacancies; and Movement in and out of the County

Information from KCC and Medway under FOI requests, reveals considerable change in the pattern of secondary school applications this year. The focus is on grammar school patterns of admission in West Kent. There is a considerable swing in grammar school assessments from East to West, driven by parental pressure to secure grammar school places, and the intense coaching culture which becomes self–fulfilling. This is combined with pressure from children along the boundary to the West and NW, and from London Boroughs stretching through to Lewisham, with a total of 211 out of county children taking up places in these Kent grammar schools. Not surprisingly there are many grammar qualified Kent children without a grammar school place, predominantly girls in the south of the area, and boys in the north. Thus the top seven oversubscribed grammar schools in Kent are all in the West, turning away an average of 90 children each. Top this year is Skinners, rejecting a record 138 first choice applicants, followed in order by:  Dartford Grammar; Tonbridge Grammar; Dartford Girls; The Judd; Tunbridge Wells Girls; Tunbridge Wells Boys; and Weald of Kent. What is not always realised is that this is balanced by over 300 children going the other way, mainly into comprehensive schools over the border. Most oversubscribed grammar schools in Medway are Sir Joseph Williamson’s Mathematical School, Rochester and Rochester Grammar School.

Another major issue arising from this tilt, is the number of vacant spaces in East Kent Grammars led by Harvey Grammar, Folkestone with 73, followed closely by Folkestone School for Girls. Then, in order: Highworth, Ashford; Clarendon House, Ramsgate; Barton Court, Canterbury; Mayfield, Gravesend; Borden, Sittingbourne;  Chatham House, Ramsgate; and Highsted, Sittingbourne. Three others, Invicta Grammar and Oakwood Park Grammar both in Maidstone, and Wilmington Grammar Girls are full only because KCC have allocated children there, who were unsuccessful elsewhere. Two Medway Grammar Schools, Chatham Boys and Chatham girls have over a hundred spaces between them, as numbers of children in Medway drops sharply

What is clear is that the eleven plus is failing able children in East Kent, we can see these schools looking to different methods of assessing children, as already happens in the two Dover Grammar Schools, both full as a result. Presumably, one can expect to see higher than normal success rates at appeal at many of these schools, as the balance is righted.

Most popular non-selective school remains Leigh Technology Academy, turning away 193 disappointed first choices, followed by Longfield Academy with 91. The pressure on these schools is caused by lack of alternatives in the area, Dartford Technology College (girls) and Meopham School both having failed OFSTEDs and there being no boys’ non-selective school in the area. This explains why 100 Kent children went into non-selective schools in Bexley and Bromley.

Other popular Kent non selective schools disappointing more than 40 first choice applicants were (in order): Valley Park Community, Maidstone; Fulston Manor, Sittingbourne; North, Ashford; Westlands School, Sittingbourne; Hillview Girls, Tonbridge; Bennett Memorial, Tunbridge Wells; Archbishop’s, Canterbury;  King Ethelbert Academy, Westgate; and Cornwallis Academy, Maidstone. In Medway, Brompton Academy turned away a remarkable 79 first choices, even after increasing its Planned Admission Number by 30 to cope with its popularity, followed by Thomas Avelingl, and Greenacre. Sadly, one reason for the popularity of many of these schools is because parents wish to avoid other local schools.

There are three Kent schools with over 90 vacancies: Pent Valley, Folkestone; Marlowe Academy, Broadstairs; and Chaucer, Canterbury.  A total of 12 non-selective schools in Kent had more than a third of their places empty.

In Medway, discrepancies are even starker: Bishop of Rochester Academy has the highest number of vacancies at 135, being over half empty. This is followed by St John Fisher, Robert Napier, Strood Academy, and Hundred of Hoo. A key issue in Medway is the rapidly falling rolls which currently  accounts for 14% of all places being empty.

Government policy appears to be to encourage the free market in school places. Looking at the picture in Kent one can see that before long we are going to see casualties of this policy in our secondary schools, some of which will be in shiny new Academy buildings, costing tens of millions of pounds.  Never mind the children who of course are the real casualties of this game of monopoly. 

Published in Newspaper Articles

Which Kent and Medway Schools are the most popular? Which have most vacancies? Why has one school reduced the numbers it can admit? Why are there nine grammar schools with vacancies, whilst  eight in West and North West Kent turn away an average of over 80 children who put them first choice? Why does one school annually top the popularity figures, rejecting nearly 200 children who put it in first place?  Answers below. 

Kent County Council figures show there was a fall of 200 in the number of Kent children transferring to secondary school this year, but an unwelcome increase of 30 children to 443 who were offered none of their choices. I have published four previous articles which you will find below, but this one covers vacancies and levels of oversubscription across Kent and Medway.  You will find last year’s figures here.

The most dramatic finding has been featured elsewhere, the shift in children passing the 11+ from East to West of the county......

Published in News Archive

I now have official details of the pattern of children crossing the Kent and Medway boundaries to take up secondary school places, and it gives a very different picture from the more lurid headlines which greeted the initial figures released by Kent County Council on 1st March. I have divided the cross border movement into four sections below: North West Kent; West Kent; South Kent; and Medway. I don't have precise figures for which part of county children live in so some of these figures are best estimates. The headline figures are: 560 children from out of Kent are taking up places in Kent secondary schools, with 477 going the other way. But don't jump to conclusions. Read the following:...

Published in News Archive

I am now starting to see the picture relating to Kent & Medway school vacancies. Thanks to those who have provided me with some of the following information; I would be grateful for any information that helps fill out the picture. However, I shan't get the full statistics for Kent schools for another fortnight (FOI). 

It is already clear that with each school choosing its own oversubscription rules many parents are confused about why their child has not got a place at a school of their choice. Unfortunately, more and more schools are choosing rules to suit themselves and there is no longer a system attempting to cater for all. You will find more general information below

This article will be extended as I receive further information, and as I have time to update it. 

Details.......

Published in News Archive
Sunday, 12 February 2012 23:17

Medway Council - 'Serving You@

The disgraceful saga of Medway Council's attempts to hush up the scandal of the Medway Tests debacle continues. The tale up to now is told below and in various articles on the News Pages of this website. It is my belief that Medway Council is trying to hush up a number of unpalatable facts about its appalling management of the scandal. As a result,.......

Published in Peter's Blog

I would be grateful for any advice on what to do about Medway Council on the following issue, from the 200 readers a day currently visiting this site. 

However, by a remarkable coincidence, within 19 hours of my publishing this article, Medway Council responded 43 working days after my   Freedom of Information request, just a month after the legal deadline of 20 days to reply, rejecting my request. See bottom of page for more.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ 

ORIGINAL ARTICLE READS:

I remain very concerned about the Medway Test shambles, which the Council appears to be trying to bury, hoping that everyone will forget about it, although its ludicrous claim that no children were disadvantaged by the problems stands as a  PR disaster, in that it angered so many parents, who would otherwise have just written the matter off to incompetence. I hear that the Local Government Ombudsman is preparing a draft report which, if it is subsequently published, should shed further light on the mystery of why Council officers and members made so many public statements that proved wrong.

My problem is that, in trying to understand further what went wrong, ...........

Published in Peter's Blog
Monday, 14 November 2011 18:46

Medway Test Shambles - Kent on Sunday

The following article appeared with an accompanying newspaper report in Kent on Sunday, October 30th. It was subsequently reproduced in full, in the blog of Medway Councillor Tristan Osborne. 

The row about the shambolic Medway Test arrangements at two Test Centres, described by Councillor Les Wicks, Portfolio Holder for Education at Medway Council, as ‘a mortification’ -  continues unabated. The Medway Eleven plus is held in a number of large centres (mainly schools) on a Saturday morning in September. There have been complaints about the operation of these tests for years, the Council agreeing nine changes in procedures with the Ombudsman in 2008 after a large number of complaints; last year the council admitted fault after another  large number of complaints about one centre and agreed to put in a number of improvements to monitor  the process. Sadly these failed to stop what the Council has now agreed were major faults at Rainham School for Girls, although it disputing the problems at the Chatham Grammar centre. At Rainham, the Council put in just one registration desk for over 200 children, with the result that anxious queues rapidly built up waiting long past the 20 minutes allocated, the tests starting 40 minutes late. Children were therefore on site for six and half hours. There were only three boys’ toilets, half the girls’ toilets were not working so many children spent the whole of their breaks in toilet queues.  They had been told to bring a piece of fruit and a bottle of water to sustain them, which was evidently insufficient for the extended exam period. Any adult subjected to such chaos for an important exam would probably have walked out. As it was some of the children did not have the stamina to cope. I have just listed here some of the many problems at Rainham, and Medway Council has now acknowledged that no fault attached to the school,  although at least two councillors alleged the problems were down to the incompetence of the school and had apologise for this later. I could go on about the problems at Chatham, sparked by the invigilators’ failure to provide the question paper for the first exam of the day, but you can read the details at www.kentadvice.co.uk.  Medway Council’s astonishing verdict was that as half the children passed the test at Rainham, none were disadvantaged – apparently they didn’t consider the half who failed!. The Council promised to carry out a thorough investigation of the problems and make the outcome known to all concerned. However this has  turned out to be a ‘management improvement  report’, a single page document looking forward to stop such problems recurring, that does not address the issue of why the problems arose in the first place.  One can only hope it is more effective than the promises of 2010 which were supposed to stop such problems! However, parents continue to be angry, not necessarily because of the original blunders, but because of council attempts to cover them up, and its ludicrous refusal to acknowledge some children were disadvantaged by the conditions to which they were subjected.  We await the Ombudsman’s verdict on this one, but spare a thought for those children who will never know if they would have passed, if treated fairly.

Published in Newspaper Articles
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