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........... to the Home Page of Kentadvice.co.uk, where you will find the latest news and comment directly below this introduction. The website contains over 600 pages of information, advice, news and comment which you can access through the index on the right of this page, or the search engine above. You can receive regular news and blog items as they are published via the email notification, also on the RHS of the page, or by RSS. To find a list of all news items, go to "MORE NEWS", at the very bottom of the page, where you will also find a list of archived items and articles by me published in the media.  

The website will also introduce you to my professional services, providing support and advice on matters covered in the website, especially related to school admissions and appeals, as described here

If you need more general information please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. For specific advice issues please go to the Contact page.    

For the year 2015, this website had 186,209 certified visits, from 114,122 different users, who carried out 402,521 page views.
This was in addition to the thousand plus subscribers, including parents, schools, education officers, politicians and the media who each received the 87 News and Comment articles published during the year. 
Most Popular Page: Kent Grammar School Applications - total views since publication 198,651  

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Latest News & Comments

Just click on a news item below to read it in full. Feel free to subscribe to the news via the email link to the right or the RSS Feed at the bottom of the page. Please note that the 800 or so regular subscribers who receive each news item directly are not included in the number of readers recorded below the item. If you have a view on any item posted, please leave a comment. Also feel free to suggest items of news, or areas where comment is needed to: peter@kentadvice.co.uk. \nNews items appear as and when I have time in a very busy schedule supporting clients.

  • Kent Test Enquiries

    For some reason I am being inundated this year with enquiries about the forthcoming Kent Test, apparently based on the assumption that I may know more detail than is in the published information.

    Kent County Council rightly likes to keep a level of uncertainty in its testing procedure in the hope of reducing the effect of a coaching culture which can try and cover all bases, and so does not release details on the number of questions in each section, which can vary from year to year, etc.

    My own view is well-articulated on these pages and elsewhere. I dislike coaching and its effects intensely as it militates against selection by ability but, given its prevalence in a competitive field where just 21% of Kent children are selected, I recommend parents to arrange some form of organised preparation or coaching so their children are not disadvantaged....

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    Written on Thursday, 04 August 2016 10:51 Be the first to comment! Read 382 times
  • Lilac Sky Issues Widen
     TWITTER VERDICT BY WARWICK MANSELL: THE GUARDIAN
    Staggering blog by Kent consultant Peter Read on Lilac Sky academies. Real issues here re DfE oversight, it seems. 1:16 pm - 5 Aug 2016
     
    Various updates, most recently 18 August.
     
     
    The delayed publication of the 2015 accounts of the Lilac Sky Academy Trust (LSSAT) at last reveals some of the reasons why they are being closed down.
    LSSAT Logo

    in summary: In the two years to 1st April 2015, over a million pounds was paid by LSSAT to companies run by Trevor Averre-Beeson, founder of LSSAT, for services provided. As a consequence, LSSAT ended the year £665,972 in debt and with a pension deficit of £1,320,000. i.e. It was non-viable.  Mr Averre-Beeson was awarded advances of £500,018 for 2013/14 in his capacity as majority shareholder in Lilac Sky Outstanding Services one of the beneficiary companies, although there appears no parallel entry in the record for the 2014/15. There is no suggestion by me of any breach of law.

    Probably the biggest of so many questions raised by this debacle is who pays off the apparent near £2 million shortfall in LSSAT? Attempted answer below! 

    In order to try and reduce the deficit, LSSAT increased the individual academy contributions to central funding for 2015-16 to 7% of  their total income, from 5% (many Multi-Academy Trusts only deduct 3%) and made new charges for services to individual academies, both clearly having a direct effect of reducing the quality of education in the schools. In addition it proposed increasing employer contributions to pension provision, presumably because this had been underfunded. It is unlikely that the effect of these actions would be likely to produce a swift removal of the deficit. 

    Mr Averre-Beeson 'left' the Board of LSSAT in April 2015, and also his role as CEO, to be replaced by Chris Bowler who had previously been Managing Director,  However Mr Bowler only lasted a year,  and now appears to have been removed from this post by the Regional Schools Commissioner (RSC).

    As  first reported in my previous article, Lilac Schools Company  is still being considered for the running of a new Jewish Free School in North London, so amazingly has not yet lost all credibility with Government. ....

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    Written on Thursday, 04 August 2016 11:11 2 comments Read 3087 times
  • How School Bosses Spend Your Millions

    A programme from the Channel Four Dispatches series with the above title, broadcast on Monday evening, focused on leaders of some Academy chains who are taking large sums of money out of the schools under their control, and away from the children's education.  

    Issues in the programme focused on: huge salaries; what are called ‘related party transactions’ where business deals and services are connected back to the Trust; large expense accounts; and the exclusions of ‘inconvenient pupils’ often with Special Education Needs.  

    I do not propose to go into detail about the general misuses of public funds uncovered, for you can read them in the accompanying article, but I have previously reported examples of scandals in Kent and Medway in various articles in this website, some referenced again below.

    An analysis of some of the more prominent academy chains shows that size and performance bear limited connection with reward, the Head of one single school Academy Trust earning £176,000 last year. This was some £25,000 more than the CEO of Kent’s largest Multi-Academy Trust (MAT) which is responsible for 13 schools, and ten thousand pounds more than KCC’s Corporate Director, whose responsibilities include direct control of some 400 schools together with a wide range of essential services for all children and schools in Kent,  who was paid £166,353 in 2015, with just £1,010 in expenses, all on travel.

    I have now looked at the accounts of a number of  MATs of  different sizes, and also Single School Trusts on the Companies House website. The overwhelming majority have their lead officer on a salary of less than £100,000, so the examples  below represent a small minority of the total in Kent. 

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    Written on Tuesday, 26 July 2016 20:40 Be the first to comment! Read 768 times
  • Simon Langton Girls' Grammar School

    Events at Simon Langton Girls’ Grammar School continue apace since my previous article at the beginning of last month. See also article on resignation of Chief Executive of Thinking Schools Academy Trust.

    Simon Langton Girls

    Main details are that the school has now withdrawn its application to become an Academy, a number of governors and the clerk to governors resigned, and the Chairman of Governors has resigned.

    Now KCC has appointed five new governors to the GB and a new Chairman has been elected, “bringing with them considerable educational and leadership experience and nationally recognised expertise in school governance”. The new Chairman is Dr Christine Carpenter, who a few years ago was Headteacher of the Sacred Heart High School, a girls’ Catholic School in Hammersmith. Most of the other new governors are recognisable as also being involved with education in Kent. However, there are still massive and ongoing troubles which affect the school.

    A letter to parents, “Sent on behalf of Simon Langton Girls’ Grammar School Governing Body and Kent County Council”, so unclear whether the existing Governing Body has actually produced or approved it, sets out the main changes and pledges that “Moving forward the school governors and Kent County Council are determined to ensure that relationships can be restored under a new climate of openness and transparency”.

    You will find a superb commentary on the debacle by the local Newspaper, here

    However, matters to be resolved include ....

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    Written on Monday, 11 July 2016 14:22 3 comments Read 853 times
  • Wayfield Primary School: Surely the worst ever performer in a crowded field in Medway

    Several times on the pages of this website, I have written about “the worst ever” OFSTED Report I had read at the time with regard to Kent or Medway schools or academies failing because of incompetent management and leadership. However, the recent Report placing Wayfield Primary School in Chatham in Special Measures leaves the competition standing. In 2013, just before the school was taken over by Griffin, OFSTED had found it a GOOD school.

    Wayfield                         Griffin

    Whilst the school may indeed have been "Proud to Achieve" in 2013 some excerpts from the current Report describe the shocking fall from grace brought about by the Griffin Trust :

    Pupils’ safety and well-being are at risk; Staff manage pupils’ behaviour poorly; Normal discipline has broken down; On occasion, staff lose control of pupils, who are then at risk of being harmed; Too often, pupils become distracted, fool about or are noisy in lessons; Over the past two years, the school’s provision has notably worsened; Pupils’ attainment and progress have fallen catastrophically; Pupils underachieve in all key stages; Pupils are inadequately taught; The leadership and management of the school are weak at all levels; The headteacher is the only senior leader; The Griffin Schools Trust oversees the school unsuccessfully; The governance arrangements, organised by the academy trust, are ineffective”.

    Media commentary by Radio Kent and the Medway Messenger on this appalling betrayal of children’s life chances missed my previous story, first reported in the Guardian, that: “in just two years the Trust paid over £700,000 to a company jointly owned by its two chief executives.Three other companies in which trustees of the charity have majority interests received smaller payments that amounted to around £100,000 for “educational consultancy services’”, the trust’s accounts show”. This is a common device by some academy chains to ensure an adequate financial reward for their leaders’ noble endeavours.....

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    Written on Monday, 04 July 2016 20:32 Be the first to comment! Read 759 times
  • Medway Primary Schools: Oversubscription and vacancies for 2016.

    I now have detailed figures for Medway’s Primary Reception and Junior School allocations for September 2016, and they confirm the data quoted in my initial article on primary school allocations, published in April.

    The overall outcome in terms of preferences and vacancies is similar to 2015, although another 60 late places were put into two Gillingham schools, St Thomas of Canterbury Catholic and Woodlands Academy to head off problems. 40 extra unplanned places were put into Elaine Primary Academy, but in the end, these were not used.

    St Margarets Infant            Brompton Westbrook 

    Rainham is the most pressured area again, with not a single Reception place left unfilled. Most popular school is St Margaret’s Infants’ also in Rainham, turning away 39 first choices, soaring from nine last year. This is followed by: Brompton-Westbrook (Academy), (31), third most popular in 2015; Swingate 27, another school that has increased sharply in popularity; Pilgrim and Bligh Infants (Academy applications in progress), (25); and All Faiths Children’s Academy and Cliffe Woods Primary Academy (23).

    Five primary schools have over a third of their places empty, headed by All Hallows Primary Academy on the Hoo Peninsula with a 60% vacancy rate for its 30 places, although Twydall has the largest number, with 34 of its 75 places going empty.

    I look more closely at each Medway area below, together with the situation for Junior Schools…….

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    Written on Tuesday, 14 June 2016 11:23 Be the first to comment! Read 534 times