Update: I have been asked by a number of Year 12 families about any advice I can offer to current students who fear for their chances in Year 13. See new heading towards foot of the article.
|You will find a feature length article in Kent on Sunday here, widening the debate. It includes a quotation by Julie Derrick, headteacher of Invicta Grammar School: "This is an 'interpretation' by a couple of students- it is not accurate". The host of testimonies at the foot of this table, and in the media, suggests she is out of touch with reality.|
Please visit comments at the foot of this page, from twenty young people or their parents, who come across as thoughtful, full of commonsense, concerned for other victims, and well educated by their school. All support the facts denied by Invicta Grammar. Please note that whilst some have chosen to write under a nom de plume, nearly all have identified themselves to me and appear to be genuine. This webpage has been unprecedented in its popularity with 9239 visitors on its first day of publication, indicating the importance of the issues raised, having subsequently soared to a total of 18676 at the time of the latest update (Saturday).
The pressure to achieve results has resulted in the two girls’ grammar schools in Maidstone both adopting apparently unlawful tactics to secure top A Level grade performance, at the expense of the future of some students. OFSTED considers both high performing schools are Outstanding, so there is no doubt about the excellent quality of education offered for those young people who stay the course.
However, at Maidstone Grammar School for Girls, the school suddenly introduced a new and unlawful provision for selecting external students for admission to the Sixth Form in September 2016, illegally picking those predicted to achieve highest GCSE Grades by a process not in the school’s admission rules.
At Invicta Grammar School, 22 students ‘voluntarily’ left the school half way through their A Level course, refused permission to carry on into Year 13, a total of 26 through the year, the highest number and the second highest proportion of any Kent grammar school. This was because their grades at AS level were insufficient to be confident of the high A Level performance of which the school is so proud, Given no alternative to stay on, this amounts to expulsion although there is no lawful provision for students to be removed mid-course by schools in this way.
Further details on the situation at both schools below, along with other grammar schools which have a high departure rate. There appears a particular problem in Medway, where four of the six grammar schools saw a loss of more than 10% of their cohort between Years 12 and 13 this year.
Each year, I am contacted by a number of young people, mainly but not exclusively in grammar schools, who are not admitted to Sixth Forms although fully qualified according to the school admission criteria, or who are forced out at the end of Year 12 because the school only wants the highest performing students for the sake of their league table position. However, these two cases are the most extreme I have come across.
Too many students, capable of fulfilling their potential by achieving A Level success, albeit sometimes at a lower level than schools wish to see, therefore see their career chances thwarted...
I have frequently covered the failings of the three Maidstone primary academies run by the Academies Enterprise Trust on the pages of this website. At last there are signs of relief for the poor families whose children are forced to attend one of Molehill Primary Academy, Oaks Primary Academy and Tree Tops Primary Academy as they are taken away from AET control and transferred to the Leigh Academy Trust, currently Kent’s most successful academy chain, on 1st March.
All three schools have been failed by OFSTED in the past few years, an article I wrote in January 2014 being entitled: “Is this the worst school in the country, run by the worst academy chain? - Tree Tops Academy”. An update on the fate of the three schools followed in September. AET, the largest Academy chain in the country, is currently banned from taking on any new academies and received a highly critical letter from OFSTED, following the focused inspection of 12 of its 71 schools (OFSTED is currently not allowed to inspect academy chains directly), in September.……
Valley Invicta Academy Trust (VIAT) is considering opening a new Free School in September 2017 on the site of its two secondary schools, Valley Park school and Invicta Grammar School. It would be called the Maidstone School of Science and Technology, specialising in science, technology, engineering and mathematics and is proposed initially to take in four classes of entry, or 120 students.
As Reported below, the Academies Enterprise Trust (AET), which effectively ran The Marlowe Academy in the last school year, made limited progress in its attempts to improve standards at the academy, overseeing a failed OFSTED. It then made limited progress in two subsequent monitoring Inspections and paved the way for the most recent barely adequate one.
It also took over three Maidstone primary schools in April 2012, including the previous Bell Wood Primary School which became Tree Tops Academy. OFSTED has now carried out its first monitoring Inspection eight months after AET took over the school which was previously in Special Measures. The summary conclusion of "Having considered all the evidence I am of the opinion that at this time the academy is not making enough progress in raising standards for all pupils. This visit has raised serious concerns and the timing of the academy’s next inspection may be affected" is surely an indictment of the academy chain's input to this school.
Some excerpts from the Report:.....
LATEST (13/7): Kent County Council had its debate on the e-petition submitted by Bearsted parents on Thursday. The debate can be found in full at: http://www.kent.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/82135, 3 hours and five minutes into the meeting. There was unanimous praise for the leaders of the campaign (unique in my experience), although there was much discussion on county wide issues. KCC takes some pride in its place forecasting, although I would challenge that confidence, as we continue to see too many predictable crises in provision. Three important outcomes. The decision by the governors of St John's to expand to two forms of entry in September 2013, and to provide an additional Year One class for those children currently disappointed, will need to go out for consultation, and Department for Education approval, although there is a presumption in the School Admissions Code of Practice that such expansion will be approved. There will not be additional provision at St John's during the course of the academic year 2012-2013, so those children who have lost out this time round, will have to wait until September 2013, to amply to transfer into Year One. The problem for 2012 entry has been exacerbated by the large number of siblings, and this ought to be a factor tracked in the future.
Ther have been similar problems in the Kings Hill area of West Malling, and it appears this campagin has inspired parents there to set off on a similar trail. You will find a facebook page at: http://workingpartykingshill.blogspot.co.uk/.
Kent County Council has issued the following press release: "Primary school expansion in Grove Green brings welcome news to local parents......
Pressure continues to build over the shortage of reception class places in Bearsted, centred on Madginford Park Infants School, Thurnham CofE Infants School and St John's Primary School. At the recent meeting of Bearsted Parish Council, Paul Carter, Leader of Kent County Council, listened to the concerns of many local parents whose children have no local school to go to, and has promised to do what he can to resolve the problem. One new issue is that at present, 43 of the 80 plus children without a school of their choice have been allocated places at St Paul's Infant School over two miles away. KCC is responsible for providing transport for those unable to make other arrangements, likely to be a minibus, driver as the only adult present, no seat belts, cost estimated at .......
I now have detailed information on Kent and Medway primary school admission offers for September 2012. On the surface, all looks well with a healthy 95% of children in Kent being offered one of their three choices, similar to last year. However, with rising rolls the number of children being allocated a school they hadn’t chosen has risen from 564 to 818 in two years, a worrying rise of 45%.
You will find more general information in a separate article below. I have started to provide more detailed information on difficult areas, via the links below.
Analysis of the figures shows a sharp contrast between most of West Kent and most of East Kent and between urban and rural areas. Maidstone town is the most difficult area, with over 100 children allocated to schools they did not apply for (you will find an earlier article on part of the problem here) and NO places free in any school in the town. Other problem areas include:........
To be updated. My previous article gives general figures on primary school admissions.
I am fielding many enquiries about infant class appeals and, sadly, having to explain that because of Infant Class Legislation, there is little or no prospect of success for most appeals, apart from the following five reasons:.......
Holy Family Roman Catholic Primary School joins the growing list of Maidstone primary schools failed by OFSTED, when it was given 'Notice to Improve' in October. Particular criticism is made of the "slow progress many pupils make, especially in Key Stage 2 mathematics; their attendance; and the school’s governance". The full list of failing schools in the town is: .........