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Displaying items by tag: grammar school - Kent Independent Education Advice

Meopham School in Gravesham, a non-selective mixed academy that has achieved excellent GCSE results this year, is proposing to change its status to become a mixed grammar school from September 2018.

Meopham

This school, with a current intake of 160 students and run by the Swale Academies Trust, has published a Consultation document about the plan.  This outlines the proposal if the recommendations of the recently published government Green Paper allowing non-selective schools to convert to grammar schools are approved. Current students at the school would be able to continue on their present courses.  

I can see there would be strong demand for such a school if it came into being, as outlined below, but there are also massive problems for non-selective children in an area where there is already enormous pressure on non-selective places.

This is just the first proposal nationally to become public, and gives rise to speculation about several other possibilities of a similar nature across the county. 

Please note: What follows are my initial reactions to breaking news today, but I will return to it, with a more measured response and updates as they arise.

Published in News and Comments
Sunday, 11 September 2016 22:57

Sevenoaks Annexe

There has been considerable press coverage, following the claim in the Sunday Times that there will be a new school on the Sevenoaks annexe site for boys.

It is of course not that simple. Quite simply, there are no regulations at present in place to allow any such development, not even a boys’ annexe.

Paul Carter, Leader of KCC, who has driven the project from its beginning and now appears to have his vision fully vindicated, appears quite clear that buildings will be constructed over and above those for the girls' annexe. There is a fall-back position in that it is reported that if no school or annexe is allowed, alternative short term use is being planned.

Sevenoaks

It has been clear for years that Mrs May, even as Home Secretary was in favour of expansion of grammar schools, possibly by creation of annexes, as I wrote in November 2014. Her current ideas are clearly proving very controversial, and I see no point in adding to the debate.

However, as I also wrote in May 2015 after the General Election, about a possible boys’ annexe in Sevenoaks to balance the one being built for the girls of Weald of Kent Grammar: “the pressure to sort this one could become irresistible!” It is starting to look that way.......

Published in News and Comments

A BBC news item last evening (Monday), reporting on the recommendations of the Grammar Schools and Social Mobility Committee of KCC (see previous article), contained the startling opinion that, in order to meet the objectives of the Committee, another 700 grammar school places would need to be created.

Although not mentioned, this would be spread across the five years of compulsory secondary education and so, capping the secondary transfer rate at the current 29%, including all three routes to selection, the Committee is looking at just 120 more places for high performing children on Free School Meals in Kent’s 32 grammar schools each year, fewer than 4 children per average grammar school with an intake of 150 students  

In fact, there is no suggestion or intimation whatever in the Committee’s recommendations that a single new place should be created, which would of course increase the current 29% of the school population attending grammar school, an idea for which there appears no political will.

The Committee main thrusts are as follows:……

Published in News and Comments

For update, go to here.

Kent County Council has published a draft Report on Grammar Schools and Social Mobility, prepared by a Select Committee of County Councillors to be approved at a final Meeting of the Committee on June 6th before going to full Council. There is widespread agreement that the proportion of able children from disadvantaged families gaining access to grammar schools in Kent is too low, although once the children are admitted there is clear evidence they perform almost as well as the whole cohort of grammar school entrants. This Report establishes some important principles and recommendations to be put to full County Council on 14th July for approval, as set out below, and it is hoped that KCC will agree to promote these for the sake of those children.

For me the key statistic is that just 57.4 % of children on Free School Meals Ever (FSE, my preferred measure) who have achieved a commonly recognised grammar school standard of two Levels Five Plus in their Key Stage 2 Reading, Writing and Maths, begin grammar school, compared with 78.7% of similar ability children not in this category. This has to be wrong, especially as many of the reasons behind this disparity lie in the education sector itself………

Published in Peter's Blog

This article looks across Kent to the key oversubscription and vacancy situations in grammar schools. Main pressure points are in West and North West Kent, led by Dartford Grammar, 226 first choice applications oversubscribed,  followed by the three West Kent super selectives and Dartford Grammar School for Girls. There is then a sharp fall to the next most popular school, Wilmington Grammar School for Boys but still at 49 first choices rejected. At the other end of the scale, ten grammar schools have vacancies on allocation. Medway schools here

dgs          togs

Kent has seen an extra 91 net places put into its grammar schools, above the numbers planned for admission this year, and 244 more than in 2015, to meet rising rolls in several areas.

I look at individual schools below, and you will find my previous article on allocations published at the beginning of March here, and for 2015 here. Non-selective schools here.

Published in News and Comments
Thursday, 09 July 2015 22:47

Sevenoaks Annex: New Problems?

The Daily Mail has published an article claiming that the proposed Sevenoaks Annex is being blocked because of legal issues.

The article asserts that the legal problems are such that, even if the Secretary of State were to approve the scheme, it would be overturned by a legal challenge in the courts. Fear of a Judicial Review was likely to put a stop to the proposal going ahead.

The current scheme is the fourth to be proposed  since the satellite grammar school was first proposed three and a half years ago, planning permission for the new annex has been granted, and builders are waiting to move in. Meanwhile on the same site, the new buildings for the Trinity Free School are already in progress.

The article gives no clue as to what the legal obstacles might be and, whilst they were evident in each of the three previous schemes, it is harder to see what is now suggested to be blocking the proposal.

Whatever, we are left wondering if this is just another of the myriad of rumours that have swirled around this project from the start, as confirmed by any internet search for "Sevenoaks Annex". In particular (updating five days after the original Daily Mail article) it is curious that no other media outlet has picked up the story, or is it just they have been burned before....

Published in Peter's Blog

KCC has filed a new letter with Sevenoaks District Council, reproduced below, relating to its Planning Application for the Sevenoaks Grammar School Annexe and Trinity Free School. This sets out a refined version of the case for the annexe, including KCC’s continued commitment to find a solution to the problems previously covered here.

Probably the most significant paragraph is the penultimate one, which refers to an invitation to submit further proposals from an interested school. I presume this refers to a local single-sex grammar school, but following previous conclusions it would probably also need to become co-educational......

Published in News and Comments

Barton Court Grammar School in Canterbury has now gone out to Consultation on its proposed move to Herne Bay, details here. In previous articles I have discussed the proposal which has now been amended and refined to read as follows: "proposal to relocate the School to the former Herne Bay Golf Club site from September 2017 and to expand to 5 forms of entry. We have been offered an opportunity to build a new school within a proposed housing and sports complex development by Newmaquinn Ltd”. 

Barton Court

The proposal is being challenged by all non-selective schools in the Canterbury district, on the grounds that there is no call for an extra grammar school class in the area, and to fill it would require the school to admit more students on appeal, who were initially non-selective, changing its character.

Unfortunately, both Barton Court's rationale for increasing its size and a letter to the press from the non-selective heads contain too many errors in the statistics they quote, the cases therefore becoming mutually contradictory. As a result, no conclusions can be drawn from the statistics in either of these two documents. The letter to the press has also gone to BCGS, KCC and the two local MPs. 

I have carried out my own analysis of the data, using information from KCC under Freedom of Information requests, and conclude that the BCGS case for expansion is sensible,  but not on the grounds they give......

Published in News Archive

Recent correspondence between Michael Fallon, MP for Sevenoaks and Michael Gove, Secretary of State, appears to suggest that any decision on the proposed satellite grammar school in Sevenoaks is far from clear cut.

Meanwhile, grammar school provision at Dartford Grammar looks set to increase, targeted at the ablest pupils from South East London.

Proposed Satellite Grammar School in Sevenoaks

The letter from Michael Fallon, dated 7th October, once more makes the case for the satellite, but finishes “I urge you to make a speedy decision”. Quite rightly, as time is passing, and the target date of opening in September 2015 relies on the building being mainly completed within the next 19 months. Planning permission may be working through, but not a brick can be laid until the decision is made, and any legal challenges resolved.

Mr Gove replied on 24th October: “Thank you for your letter of 7 October, about the provision of school places. I understand the difficulty pupils and families face in securing a suitable school place, and the distance many have to travel. Primary legislation prohibits the introduction of new selective schools and we must judge the proposals carefully to test whether they represent new schools or expansions.The Education Funding Agency (EFA) is assessing the proposals and will present its findings to ministers shortly. We will notify each school in writing as soon as a decision has been reached. In reaching our decision, we will consider all the evidence that has been presented through the process, and in correspondence with each academy trust. Thank you for writing to me on this important matter”.

Clearly, the central issue holding up proceedings is the one picked out by Mr Gove’s underlining: is the proposal for a new school or an expansion? ........

Published in News Archive

Back in July, I reported the proposal for an East Kent satellite grammar school sponsored by Barton Court Grammar school and based in Herne Bay.

The plan appears to have changed in principle and, rather than a satellite, the proposal is now for Barton Court to shift its base entirely to Herne Bay, replicating the plan put forward in the 1980s to address the shortage of grammar school places on the North Kent Coast. However, this is not just a change of site, the proposal is for Barton Court Grammar to expand to six forms of entry, with the support of the developer of the site on the old Herne Bay Golf Club land, one benefit of a grammar school being the likely enhancement of status for his housing development. The capital cost of the project would be part funded from sale of the current city centre site, part from the developer, although there would probably be a shortfall that may be the main issue. Canterbury City Council is highly supportive of the move, as it would remove a major source of the heavy traffic problems in the City, so it would fall to the school persuading KCC, Canterbury Council and or government to make up any funding gap.

Much of the background rationale for the move is explained in my previous article, although the proposal to move the whole school lock, stock and barrel is far more radical and raises fresh issues and benefits........

Published in News Archive
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