Supporting Families
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Welcome...

I began this website in 2006 both as a service to parents and to promote my business . I consider the educational system is often stacked against parents who have problems with individual schools or the education service and began my consultancy in 2003 to try and alleviate this somewhat in Kent and Medway.

Very soon I established that the need was far greater than I thought and my role (I do have a life outside education) became too full, to the extent that I am now only able to offer telephone consultations, primarily relating to School Admissions and Appeals across the two Local Authorities, but am also able  to advice on other school issues of concern to parents, as explained here. Before I stepped back, I worked with around 1000 families on preparing school appeals, and each year I carry out many telephone consultations all contributing to my wide experience of matters educational in Kent and Medway.

Back to the website. This began life with a few short pages that I was able to edit and update simply, but as time has gone on, the range of issues and the amount of material covered have spiralled almost out of control. Clearly, my main priority has to be to my professional clients and so the updating and adding of new items inevitably takes second place. The site was relaunched in a professional format in January 2011, but content revision is still ongoing. Please let me know where further revision is needed, together with any errors or omissions (especially faulty links!) and I will give that high priority in my work. I continue to maintain the pages outside my other education activities but am aware there remains much to revise. 

I have now completed an initial survey of all Kent secondary schools, the same for Medway and have some information on  Kent and Medway primary schools, collected by District, mainly OFSTED outcomes, and Special Schools. It is my intention to add to these sections as new information (not opinion on quality) arrives and I have time. Please feel free to provide me with this or prompt me to add it.

Sadly, I have also had to withdraw my full professional consultancy from areas such as Special Educational Needs, as the extensive time both to keep up to date in a fast moving field, and that would be taken up in any one case, is out of all proportion to the time I have available.  This does not take away from the fact that I consider this is by far the most important area where parents need help, and on the special needs and links pages of this website I provide links to some areas of support. As with all aspects of the website, I am happy to include such links to non commercial websites that support parents.

Peter J Read

B.Sc., M.Phil., M.A., Dip.Gen.

peter@kentadvice.co.uk

                                                 

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.

  • Complaints about Academy and Free School Apppeals

    I am regularly asked regarding possible complaints about Admission Appeals to academies and Free Schools, and respond that it is rare such complaints succeed.

    I now have the data for academies and Free Schools for the past two years, and this underlines how difficult it is. Across Kent and Medway there were 53 complaints to the Education Funding Agency (EFA) in the two years, and not one was successful, although two found maladministration without injustice, i.e. the panel made mistakes but these made no difference to the outcome.

    Nationally there were 461 complaints, possible injustice was found in 20 of these, and 36 were found to have maladministration with no injustice.

    Further details and comment below.

    Read more...
    Written on Monday, 11 September 2017 02:21 1 comment Read 254 times
  • UPDATE 7/9: Expulsion of Year 12 A Level Pupils Illegal

    Update 7th September: The Department of Education has today sent a letter to all schools clarifying the situation regarding exclusion at the end of Year 12 for academic reasons. This makes it crystal clear that it is unlawful to remove students for any but disciplinary reasons. No school should be in any doubt about this regulation. If needed, you will find a copy of the letter here

    This confirms my view on the law after highlighting the case of 22 pupils most of whom were illegally forced out of Invicta Grammar School Sixth Form last summer, because they did not achieve high enough grades at the end of Year 12. Since the publication of A Level results this summer, I have been approached by families across the country who have also been thrown out of grammar and non-selective Sixth forms for not achieving similar illegal requirements, in particular several from St Olave’s Grammar in Orpington, a Voluntary Aided School sponsored by the Anglican Diocese of Rochester.  

    The DfE statement throws open a gaping hole in current practice, with thousands of children across the country being sacrificed in the drive to improve school league table positions. Every one of these should now know or be told their expulsion is illegal and they are entitled to resume their places in Year Thirteen.

    Read more...
    Written on Monday, 04 September 2017 18:45 3 comments Read 547 times
  • Shame on Holcombe Grammar School and Medway Council

    Update - Read below first: Numbers taking up Victory option have fallen on fist day of term, as have those taking up places at Holcombe. Surely, the mature solution is to admit this has been an almighty blunder and place the residue of the seven currently at Victory, back in Holcombe. All sorted. 

    Holcombe Grammar School, previously Chatham Boys' Grammar, aided and abetted by Medway Council, have carried out one of the most shameful actions I can recall being imposed by a school. Seven boys who have passed the Medway Test, and have been placed on the roll of Holcombe Grammar, are to spend their first secondary school year at low flying non-selective Victory Academy, both schools being part of the Thinking Schools Academy Trust. The boys have been told they are to form part of a newly created Grammar stream, the remainder being made up of boys and girls from the academy none of whom will have been assessed as of Grammar ability by the Medway process. 

    This device has the effect of denying the children an appeal against the decision, which they would surely win given the circumstances as explained below. Instead on Monday morning the seven boys, on the roll of Holcombe Grammar, will be walking up the same road as other pupils in the school, but in Victory Academy uniform to join a class taught by teachers some of whom, according to Medway Council, have no experience in teaching Grammar ability children but who will be trained on the job. As explained below faulty procedures administered by Medway Council and the school have contributed to allowing this travesty to occur. 

    On a wider scale, if this process were judged to be legal, it would have wide reaching consequences. It would allow any Multi Academy Trust in the country the astonishing freedom to transfer children offered places at one school, to be placed in another school in the Trust to be educated. Congratulations again Medway Council on setting an appalling precedent (if indeed it is legal)

    Read more...
    Written on Thursday, 31 August 2017 21:23 4 comments Read 654 times
  • Swale Academies Trust & The Sunday Times: Together with the Magic Money Tree

    Update 7th September: I have updated the initial data in this story which was based on reports from informed parties. I accept some of this may have been inaccurate in detail, as I explained in the story, but was broadly consistent overall with the results of a KCC FOI, submitted before the Sunday Times story broke, which I have now incorporated. I apologise for any error.  

    The Sunday Times led this week on a story about Academy'fat cats', one focus being the CEO of charitable company Swale Academies Trust (SWAT) with his £170,000 annual salary and the four BMWs provided for him and three other top Trust Executives to carry out their duties. A Public Relations Consultant, employed by the Trust, described the CEO as 'hands on, who needed to drive between the trust’s 17 schools in Kent. Having a company BMW made his “frequent long journeys safe and comfortable”, allowing him to “focus on improving the schools in his care”'. It is astonishing that a PR company could allow such an arrogant, misleading and factually false representation of the Trust's situation.

    Coincidentally, I had been looking at  the Trust's finances with regard to two Kent Local Authority schools they have managed recently through a contract with KCC, preparing to taking them over as sponsored Academies. The Community College, Whitstable, had a budget deficit of £185,626 at the end of March 2016, Shortly afterwards SWAT took over and within a year the deficit had shot up to £683,642, with a further bill to KCC for staff re-structuring of £219,452.  Shortly before The North School, Ashford, was taken over three years ago it had a budget surplus of £244,000 which fell to £121,277 within four months, and became a deficit of £65,344 by March 2017. KCC is paying the Trust £180,000 p.a. for each school to manage them until conversion into Sponsored  Academies. At that time the two schools' deficits will be settled by KCC, the norm for new sponsored academies. The losses will then be met from KCC maintained school budgets at a cost to all remaining Local Authority schools, so clearly there is  no incentive for SWAT to economise, and apparently no accountability for their actions.

    Read more...
    Written on Sunday, 27 August 2017 18:17 2 comments Read 1009 times
  • Complaints to the Local Government Ombudsman

    Update: You will find a parallel article on complaints about academies, here

    News headlines have reported that there were more complaints to the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) against Kent education and social services last year than any other Authority, a total of 89, perhaps unsurprising as KCC is the largest Local Authority in the country. 

    I have been looking at complaints about school admissions, exclusions, transport and Special Needs in Kent and Medway. For KCC and Foundation schools, but excluding academies and Free Schools which are considered elsewhere, there was a total of 35 complaints, most against Independent Appeal Panels and their decisions over school admissions. Injustice was found in just 6 complaints, most for delays in making Special Needs provision, several of which were resolved by a small financial settlement. I am anticipating one further outstanding complaint to be upheld shortly.

    In Medway, one out of three complaints was upheld, again for a Special Needs issue, although no injustice was found.

    Read more...
    Written on Saturday, 12 August 2017 10:22 Be the first to comment! Read 402 times
  • Tough Love Academies: Ebbsfleet; Hartsdown; Oasis Isle of Sheppey

    Update: Hartsdown Academy GCSE results at 5 A-C (or new equivalent) are reported to have fallen to 15% for 2017, from 28% last year. 

    I have been looking at Kent schools that have abnormally large numbers of pupils dropping out before completing their statutory education, and trying to work out some of the reasons. Three schools leap to the fore because of their exceptional disciplinary requirements, which are clearly unpopular with families, but I also look at several other schools of note below.

    Each of these three Kent schools have featured in the media in the last year because of controversial and tough disciplinary policies, often on minor uniform issues, designed to raise standards of behaviour and which they claim will make them popular with families.  They also all have large parts of their hinterland which are areas of social deprivation.

    However, they share two other common characteristics which raise serious questions about this approach. Families try to avoid all three when choosing secondary schools; and all three have a large number of children being removed from the school to take up Elective Home Education. I look at the relevant data below, along with a look at the approach of each school individually.

    Read more...
    Written on Wednesday, 19 July 2017 10:26 11 comments Read 1223 times