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Displaying items by tag: kcc

(UPDATED: 12 September)

Kent on Sunday published an abbreviated version of a prepared article last Sunday,  on KCC's handing over of low performing primary schools to academy trusts; the full article being reproduced here.

What follows is an update and amplification of that article, carried out as time permits.

Kent County Council is quietly resolving the problem of low performing primary schools by handing them over to sponsors, mainly large academy trusts, in a dramatic change to the face of Kent education. Interestingly, in Kent on Sunday this week, in a comment on this article, a spokeswoman for KCC is reported as saying "school governors, through discussion with the Department for Education and KCC, make their own decisions to become an academy". Rubbish, as many governing bodies can testify. Government has made clear that low performing schools are required to become academies (no freedom for governor choice there, as made public by the case of Downhills Primary in London and many others); governors report that KCC has put pressure on them to convert; some headteachers who have resisted conversion have "left" their schools; some governing bodies have been removed - in any case conversion sees new governors appointed, sometimes with members who have nothing to do with the local community, usually with a reduction in the number of parent governors, sometimes to as few as one.  All this too often without the knowledge of parents who have no right of consultation over the change. 

A classic example is Dame Janet Community Infant School in Ramsgate, placed in Special Measures by OFSTED in January. A recent follow up OFSTED inspection is highly critical describing progress as inadequate.  KCC ought to have.....

Published in News Archive

In the past two months, three Kent primary schools, all in Special Measures have been re-inspected and found to have made inadequate progress. First was Dover Road Primary School in Northfleet. I wrote a previous article on the appalling management by KCC that managed to lose the opportunity for a new primary school nearby, on the grounds that Dover Road would suffer a loss of pupils, then forced an additional form of entry on the school for the next seven years, without any permanent accommodation. KCC's defence was that the school was unlucky to be placed in Special Measures. If this is the case, how come the school has failed an inspection a year on, for the second time. The report notes that "The local authority is providing support for the leadership of the school", but clearly not enough........

Published in News Archive
Wednesday, 14 March 2012 16:59

Potential Crisis in Headteacher Numbers

 I was on Radio Kent this morning, talking about a recently published a Report by KCC on a potential crisis in numbers of headteachers coming through the system and in post. It also looks at teacher recruitment and retention. Currently 49 Kent Schools do not have a headteacher, 20 of which have an Acting Headteacher. Many of the others,.....
Published in Peter's Blog
Tagged under
Thursday, 29 September 2011 15:42

Good news for Kent Special Education Needs

I was delighted to accept an invitation to the opening of the Laural Centre, an SEN Unit  for children on the Autistic Spectrum, attached to The North School in Ashford. This is the first Unit to be opened since the reversal of county policy two years ago that sought to phase out all SEN units in the county. The Centre was opened by Paul Carter, Leader of KCC, who has been a strong champion of SEN Units and Special Schools in Kent........

Published in News Archive
Sunday, 29 January 2012 16:53

Controversial new School proposed for Medway

Medway Council is bidding to create one of the 24 new University Technical Colleges (UTCs) to be set up by government, which would be based near the University of Greenwich site. I wrote and published here, the article you will find below, in October. All that has changed is that Medway Council is developing the idea and has set up an email consultation, which will form the basis of demonstrating whether parents want a University Technical College in Medway. You can respond to the survey here.  Whilst a site has not yet been chosen for the proposed College, Medway Council suggests it could be at an unused block at Brompton Barracks. You can find fuller information at the Medway Council website. Two of the pieces of information missing are the views of the current Medway secondary schools, some of which would be seriously damaged by the proposal (see below), another is Medway's best estimate of the collateral damage to other schools, and which school the Council considers would be at greatest risk of closure if the proposal goes ahead. 

Yet another Medway School, Barnsole Junior in Gillingham, has been failed by OFSTED, maintaining the proportion of Medway primary schools that have failed in the two years I have been monitoring outcomes at 21%. This appalling record is underlined by the fact that not a single Medway primary school has been found Outstanding in this time, although nationally the figure is running at 6% (just another 6% failing). 

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University Technical Colleges are planned to "offer 14-19 year olds the opportunity to take a highly regarded, full time, technically-oriented course of study. They are equipped to the highest standard, sponsored by a university and offer clear progression routes into higher education or further learning in work". To quote David Cameron:.......

Published in News Archive
Tagged under
Thursday, 21 July 2011 10:45

KCCs view on Academies

KCC appears to be changing its view on supporting secondary schools to become academies as the financial advantages start to vanish. BBC SE is planning to cover the situation this evening.
Published in News Archive
Tagged under

The Local Government Ombudsman has today (July 6th) published a highly critical report on the Independent Appeal Panel for Tunbridge Wells Grammar School for Girls for entry last September (2010). Whilst no fault was found with the school's actions (apart from engaging a Kent County Council Panel), KCC itself comes in for heavy criticism on a variety of fronts:........

Published in News Archive

Another knotty problem for Michael Gove.

Following Kent secondary school allocations on 1st March just gone, 9% of places in Year Seven were left empty or occupied by children who had not applied for the schools in question. The Audit Commission considers there should be no more than 5% empty spaces in any area or authority. So there is a problem in Kent. However, with 49 of the100 Kent secondary schools either Academies or well on the way and another 36 Foundation or Voluntary Aided schools partially independent of KCC,  the county has lost all control of its ability to plan numbers of places to fit the population, and so has no way of meeting government targets...... (read more)

Published in Newspaper Articles

The following article appeared in the first edition of the new "The Reporter" newspaper, reflecting the pressure on the newspaper industry as it replaces the old established Gravesend Reporter and the Dartford Times.

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Kent County Council has made a largely successful commitment in recent years to improve the quality of the school building stock following many ‘drought’ years when this aspect of our children’s education was neglected. Projects such as: the ‘Old Style’ academies - 10 brand new luxury schools brought into being (including Leigh in Dartford and Longfield); the six PFI project schools; and the first eleven schools completed under the now defunct Building Schools for the Future programme (including Northfleet Girls, Northfleet Technology, St Johns and Thamesview in Gravesend), have resulted in over a quarter of Kent’s secondary schools being completely replaced.  The Special School Review saw many of Kent’s Special Schools rebuilt or refurbished (including Ifield in Gravesend), and many readers will be aware of major primary school rebuilds, and new schools in the area (including Manor Community at Swanscombe) that have transformed the learning of so many of our children. Kent has also been working on a schedule to reduce major maintenance issues, which saw a reduction in the backlog from £147 million to £98 million over the past four years.

However, all this has come to a juddering halt with government cuts in education spending, some of which is retargeted at other priorities. Seven ‘Old style’ Academies (including Wilmington and Orchards in Swanley) are waiting a government review which will probably provide them with budget new  buildings and KCC has gone to court to try and recover the BSF programme for the remainder of Gravesham’s secondary schools (or more likely the millions of pounds lost in preparation works.  You will find further details of these projects at www.kentadvice.co.uk.

Meanwhile, all schools are grappling with a swingeing 80% cut in their own grants for the repair, maintenance and improvement of buildings and provision of ICT from 1 April 2011. Whilst this is a hammer blow, worst affected will be the ten schools which lost out under BSF  (including Gravesend Grammar, Gravesend Girls, Meopham and St George’s). For they will all have cut back on their maintenance and building plans expecting that BSF would solve their premises problems, but now there is no money to carry out essential repairs and improvements. A typical secondary school would have been awarded some £120,000 for this work last year, but now sees this reduced to £24,000, inevitably leading to safety concerns. This comes the week after compensation was awarded to families whose children were taking examinations in the school hall at Minster College (now The Sheppey Academy) when central heating ducts fell on them. Fortunately, there were no serious injuries or deaths, but this will certainly not be the last such incident now that schools have been deprived of sufficient funds to carry out repairs.

All this leaves KCC with a backlog of maintenance problems, currently totalling £90 million, its main hope of shrinking this being to say goodbye to schools who are choosing to become academies. Some of these will be leaving because increased budgets may give them the opportunity to resolve these issues, but when all secondaries have become academies, the pain will need to be shared equally once again.

Published in Newspaper Articles
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