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News and Comments - Kent Independent Education Advice

News and Comments

The latest news posted by Peter J Read; 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 over 800 regular subscribers who receive each news item directly are not included in the number of readers recorded below the item, who have gone beyond the headlines to look at the full article.  If you have a view on any item posted, please leave a comment.

Please feel free to suggest items of news, or areas where comment is needed to: peter@kentadvice.co.uk.

 
News items below appear below as and when I have time in a very busy schedule supporting clients.

This article looks across Kent to the key oversubscription and vacancy situations in non-selective schools District by District. Thanet with its six schools (after Marlowe Academy was closed last year) is probably the area under most pressure, containing the most oversubscribed school in the county, St George’s CofE Foundation School in Broadstairs, turning away 161 first choices, just 14 spaces in one school, and 113 children allocated to a school not on their list, nearly a quarter of the total Local Authority allocations in Kent. St George’s CofE school in Gravesham comes second being 123 first choices oversubscribed in another pressure District along with Dartford, although successful Grammar school appeals will ease the pressures over the next few months.

St Georges Foundation

St Georges 3 

At the other end of the scale, Dover District has a quarter of its spaces vacant and five schools in the county have over a third of their places vacant.

Kent has seen an extra 627 net places put into its non-selective schools, above the numbers planned for admission this year, and 460 more than the final figure in 2015, to meet rising rolls in several areas, biggest expansion being in Tunbridge Wells with an additional 121 places being pumped in.

As a result, the number of pupils offered their first choice rose by 363, and the number being offered none of their four choices fell by 213 children to just 428, the lowest figure for some years. However, this made little difference to the pressure on popular schools which has never been greater.

I look at individual schools below, mixed in with various news items, and you will find my previous article on allocations published at the beginning of March here. You will find an article describing the grammar school situation below, with Medway here. You will find 2015 non-selective data here.


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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.


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As I was preparing to publish this article, local academy news is overtaken by the ideological decision to force all schools in England to have converted or started on the route to become academies by 2020.  Whilst I normally confined myself to matters relating only to Kent and Medway on this website, the impact of this appalling decision on local schools is such that I have added a couple of paragraphs at the foot of the page.

As the conversion rate to academise has reduced to a trickle before this news, there are just two new Academies for February, Manor Community Primary School, Dartford, and Twydall Primary School in Gillingham, the latter having finally seen its future settled as it has been sponsored by Rainham Mark Grammar School after a very difficult failed take-over attempt by the Learning Schools Academy Trust.

There are several new converter applications: Simon Langton Girls Grammar; Upton Junior, Broadstairs; Temple Hill and Oakfield Primaries, Dartford.

News below about: two new build primary academies; Maidstone School of Science and Technology (or rather lack of news!); Castle Community College; Cranbrook School; Chatham Grammar School for Boys; Royal Harbour Academy (not an academy) and the Coastal Academies Trust; and a new 11-14 extension (or is it?) to Leigh University Technical College.  


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Update News: You can now find many more details at Kent Grammar School Allocations and Kent Non-Selective School Allocations. Medway school details to arrive shortly.  

The good news in Kent is that the number of first choices in Kent secondary schools, awarded to local children, has risen to 13,159, that is 81.4% of the total applications, up from 80.5% in 2015; and the number of children with none of their four choices has fallen  sharply to 428, a proportion of 2.7% of the total, from 4.0% in 2015. All of this with the number of Kent children making applications rising by 176 to 16,172. This has been achieved by KCC and schools working together to create 704 places additional to those planned for this September, 244  extra places in grammar schools and 460 in non-selective schools. There are full details of these additional places below, which give a good guide to the pressures in various areas.  

In Medway, the picture is even better, this time helped by a fall in the number of Medway children being placed in Medway schools by nearly 90 (or have more gone into Kent?). Partly as a result of this fall, the proportion of first choices offered has shot up to 84.3% from 80.7%, the proportion offered none of their six choices almost halving to 2.6%, or 77 children, from 5.0% last year, that having been the highest for many years.   
 
As well as more information, and the tables of outcomes below, you will find initial advice on what to do if you have not been offered the school of your choice, beginning as always with my Corporal Jones mantra, do NOTHING in panic! There is no quick fix. 
 
Below you can also find: further data; super selective cut offs; detail on pressures on some individual schools and change of admission criteria;detail of the 704 additional places added in Kent schools. 

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For whatever reason, the number of OFSTED Inspections in both Kent and Medway is sharply down in the first five months of the school year.

In Kent in spite of the decrease in numbers, outcomes have improved on last years gratifying performance,  with a remarkable 16 of the 22 primary schools inspected improving their Grade, including three East Kent schools up to Outstanding: Kingsdown & Ringwould; St Mildred’s Infant, Broadstairs; and St Thomas Catholic, Canterbury.

Kingsdown and Ringwould    St Mildreds Broadstairs       St Thomas Canterbury   

Another twelve improved from Requires Improvement to Good, Molehill Primary Academy at last escaping Special Measures under its new sponsor, Leigh Academy Trust. Sadly, two have been found inadequate, St Nicholas CofE, New Romney for the second consecutive time, and Brenzett CofE disappointingly both being run by KCC.   

In Medway there were just five Primary Inspections, four Good, although with two improvements - St Helen’s CofE, Cliffe and Hoo St Werburgh - up from RI, together with Oaklands Primary just securing RI, with Medway Council still trying to find a magic answer to improve its appalling standards overall.

At secondary level, there were just four full inspections, all in Kent, as the schism between grammar and non-selective OFSTED assessments widens, driven by an increased emphasis on GCSE performance, this being exacerbated by government decisions to scale down the importance of vocational education and opportunities to motivate students by discounting repeat results. Wilmington Grammar School for Girls was up one category to Outstanding, with both Canterbury Academy and Knole Academy Requiring Improvement, the latter controversially down from Good, but Swadelands secondary crashing from Good to Special Measures again.

You will find more details below including commentary on some individual schools, and a full table summarising these outcomes at the foot of this article. There are a full set of OFSTED Results dating back to 2010 for Kent primaries here, for Medway here; for Kent secondaries here; and for Medway secondaries here.


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Kent County Council has set up a Select Committee of County Councillors to explore social mobility in its Grammar Schools, adopting the principle that children from all backgrounds must have the same opportunities to flourish and succeed within the education system.

A Kent Messenger report on the first day’s proceedings, notes that: Mr Patrick Leeson, Kent’s Education Director talking about the achievement gap between poorer pupils and those without disadvantage, stated: “We have seen some movement in narrowing the gap but it is minute. Greater social mobility will only come about if the whole school system does better for children on free school meals.”

Of the 1,435 children on free school meals who sat the eleven plus in 2014, just 292 - about 8% - passed. The number of children on free school meals attending Kent grammar schools remains low at 3%, compared with 13% in non-selective schools, according to KCC data, although see further detail below.

However, good news was that those children from less well-off backgrounds who went to a grammar school did almost as well in their GCSE exams as others, with a gap of just 2% in the 5 A-C* plus maths and English success rate....


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Tuesday, 09 February 2016 20:19

Rights of Access to School Educational Records

I am regularly asked about the legal right of a parent to see their child’s full educational record, with too many schools attempting to block release of information that could prove embarrassing, lead to a complaint about the school or ease admission to another school. 

If the child attends a maintained school, parents have an independent right of access to their child’s educational record.

However, there is no equivalent legal right to access your child’s educational record for an academy or free school, or indeed a private school and it is likely to depend on the contractual relationship between the parent and the school

Personally and professionally I find this wholly morally unacceptable, but sadly government has acted to strip parents of what in any civilised society would surely be regarded as a human right, as acknowledged by the different rules for maintained schools.

There is, however, a get out in that the child themselves attending any type of school have a right of access under the Data Protection Act 1998 to their own information. This is known as the right of subject access. When a child cannot act for themselves or the child gives permission, parents will be able to access this information on their behalf. See below for more details. 

If, however, you have a concern about a school's information rights practices then raise it with the Information Commissioners Office.  

You will find the full detail here, or else read on...


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The issues arising from an analysis of the results of the recent seriously flawed Medway Test for grammar school admission are even greater than last year, with:
A mistake in calculating the pass mark by Medway Council, according to their own rules - depriving 40 Medway children of grammar school places;
The Review process selecting fewer than half the number of children it is targeted to choose, because of insufficient quality of school work presented - another 30 children denied places;
Continued powerful bias towards girls and older children with 21% more girls than boys found suitable for grammar school. The highly unsatisfactory Review process selected fourteen Medway children born in the first quarter of the school year, compared to just one in the fourth quarter.
The Council excuse is that the process works as it all comes right in the end (it doesn’t)!
With the test and Review both being so biased towards girls and older children, and the inability of the Council to apply their own formula for calculating the pass mark, it is surely time for it to be replaced by a process that is fit for purpose.
The school with the highest percentage of pupils being found selective is St William of Perth Catholic Primary with 47%, followed remarkably by Temple Mill Primary with 42%.

For further information on all these headlines, read on…


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