Monday, June 16, 2008

KCC education the country's 11 plus failure

Kent councils dismal education department, excels at failure, which is no surprise to thousands of parents, who have over the years seen their children's future blighted by a Tory administration whose prime purpose seems, to be to serve petty middle class aspirations.

Over the years thousands of parents, have seen their children's lives blighted, by Kent Tories dogged determination to continue, what is a segregation of children based ostensibly on ability but which for some reason flavours middle class parents and their offspring.

If assuming that you might be pro grammar education, ask yourself why parents spend money on additional tuition for their children and or sending to the petty private schools, whose sole purpose often, is to coach young children to pass the Kent test.

Just to gauge how out of touch some Tory councilors are I recall a Tory councilor, attempting to suggest how grammar schools broadly representative society by revealing that parents of some children at grammar schools, obtained family credit, had this person been more knowledgeable, he would have been aware that probably 80% of parents are actually eligible for such benefit.

We frequently read how Kent Council, is judged to be an absolutely bloody marvelous council, but surely one of the key services they provide is education, which would clearly indicate that they are in actual fact, second rate and worse than that eleven plus failures.

One of personal note, I have an IQ of 126, so how did I end up at a third rate secondary modern school. I think the real distinction between the grammar schools and Kent's other third rate schools, is the school's attitude to education, it sent a chill down my spine when returning to my former school years later, when the deputy head suggested with apparent pride, that most children ended up in semi skilled trades or business but none ever succeeded in the professions (which I don't think was actually true).

Education should be a continuously competitive process, however Kent's continued support of a bankrupt 19th century educational system, results in a skewed system which attempts to predict a child's abilities several years before all important public exams. There really is no honest argument for Kent's education apartheid.

Statistically Kent's education system and consequently schools are are the worst in the country, and no amount of bluster and nonsense from Tory supporters will change it.

Interesting that Paul Carter's Blog makes no reference to the appauling situation but rather quotes from another reliable source "the government" apparently this is from some inspector who thinks Kent is "excellent" and nodoubt Gordon Brown the most popular PM since the dawn of time.


  1. Seems the same in South London.My son failed to get in a good local school and ended up in a dump school with bad exam results. He is bright and has just left. As parents we feel that his school years there have been lost, and hope he will catchup in futher education. The system is unfair and is failing children's educations and appears weighted in favour of the middle class, ie houses next to the best state schools etc.

  2. I have an IQ of 133 and was sent to a secondary school where I utterly failed to do much more than learn how not to get the crap kicked out of me. Then I went to college studied not at all for the first year and did very well... Now I own my own business.

  3. I have looked at this several times, Tony, and hesitated before commenting, simply because as with many others, your entry is full of as much painful memory as current logic. So much of the debate about selection is causght up in the experiences of the fifties and early sixties experience of schooling, much of which has changed out of all recognition, but the memories blur the current reality.

    Your first commenter sums it up..even under the so called comprehensive system elsewhere there are issues about catchment areas, good and bad schools, good and bad experiences. Over the country as a whole, there are now comprehensive schools that select pupils for some of their intake, but on aptitude not ability - something I define any of you to sensibly define.

    To your post. Para 1.

    Kent education is far from a failure or failing. I have just had the enjoyable experience of taking this department through 2 of the most detailed inspections government undertakes, and emerging as the head of the at least equal first leading coumty council in the country, much of whose excellence is in education.

    Para 2

    I agree that the system as it has been operated has at times favoured middle class children in some areas (notably west kent). I am trying to balance that as and where we can. In east kent, that is certainly not the case. I see the postcodes of all the pupils. I know where they come from.

    Para 3
    Because parents will always do what they feel is best for their children, you will never stop that. The same parents will pay for coaching at GCSE as well, and for A levels, and for university exams. Thing is, their little darlings then still have to earn their living alongside the rest of us, and some of their failings show pretty quickly.

    Para 4.
    I can't speak for others, but I know exactly how to interprete which statistics about poverty. We have just introduced a new funding formula that allocated money on the postcodes of the pupils attending, rather than the school itself. Some schools, in Margate for example have done rather better than they expected. This is a KCC initiative, and goes much further than the governments measures and wishes. KCC Tory administration puts poverty at the top of the unlikely headline, but in this case a true one!

    Para 5
    KCC's selective system produces higher than average scores across the whole pupil cohort than the rest of the country's comprehensive want us to adopt a sytem that produces worse average exam results! Thanks, but no thanks, on behalf of all parents.

    Paras 6 and 7 are all about your personal story, and I acknowledge your experiences. Some of the best A level results in Chatham House in recent years have been from pupils who join the 6th form from Hereson and Ellington, and become excellent university scholars. It ain't like you describe any more. Rather, we are now re introducing vocational choices because for too long schools have only been judged on exam results.

    Para 8 this is simply untrue, and you have been conned by the dishonesty of the government and the poor quality reporting of their recent pronouncements in the National Challenge. The Gazette, to be fair was more balanced than most, and if you read it carefully you will understand what I am about to say. Kent has more schools in the list than most for 2 reasons - it is one of the biggest counties, and it retains selection - the reason this is important is not that it shows failure, but rather the chosen statistic makes no allowance for that fact. Schools who have 75% of the ability range (our high schools) are compared with schools that have 100% of the ability range (their comprehensive schools). Surprise surprise, 75% of the ability range do not produce as good averages as 100%. If however you look at how well these schools move children forward in their development (a government measure called value added) our high schools out perform their comprehensive schools: if you add in the missing 25% our selective system out performs their comprehensive one.

    What Mr Balls did this week was abandon all the carefully researched and inspected systems they have insisted exist and instead fixate on a single measure, 5 GCSE A-c including Maths and English. Thier last challenge, 5 A-C grades of any subject was achieved by Kemt a year ahead of schedule. WE started working on improving Maths and English within that score then, long before Brown and Balls dreamed this up.

    Our plans will bring about half of the named schools out of threat this summer, in meeting a target still 3 years away.

    I have recieved hundreds of protest letters and emails which condemn this ham fisted, desperate grab for publicity from a fading and failing government. I am sorry you fell for the Labour spin Tony, though I understand how it works because all of us have strong views about schools and education.

    When Balls first mentioned all this some weeks ago, I made reference to the famous Heseltine description of his speech making abilities, that it wasn't Browns it was balls... and added this is neither Brtowns nor Balls but total bollocks. I stand by that staement, and would simply add that when the government set up the panel of great and good to help schools improve, 2 of the 10 way above statistical average come from Kemt. They bluster and accuse, highlighting their own failure to understand what works, then quietly ask us to help them achieve what they cant do on their own.

    Even you Tony could not make this up, it is poure spinand bluster, damning, as you have, hard working schools and pupils with little thought and less knowledge.

    Balls, and Flaig should stand in the corner for a while and think about their logic, cos it just ain't so!

  4. Ignoring the fact that Kent is the largest county, on a percentage basis Kent still has a large number of failing schools. Yes its partly because the 'top' 25 percent are selected out. What I dont understand is if KCC are taking measures to improve the situation why has it taken them so long to get their act together? Its no good boasting that they will beat the government deadline by 3 years, it should never have been allowed to happen in the first place.
    I dont like selection simply because of all the children on the borderline. No doubt KCC has stats that confirm that their selection is 100 percent accurate!

    Tony get out of the corner.

  5. I concur with the first two respondants because for the few that gain from the current Kent system, there are dozens of losers.

    Still I thank you Chris for your imput and appreciate your comments, however I'm not influenced by any political party as far as education is concerned since I think all children should have the benefit of a level playing field.

    I don't even think that the Tory Admin in Kent is being malicious just blinkered.

    To say that a child of eleven will achieve a set goal is to undermine the whole point of an education. I respect your views chris but you are also a politicain and a good one backing the party line.

  6. The reason Kent schools have been caught out to an extent by this is the government obsession with target culture. The best example is Canterbury high School, which I went to last summer for the GCSE results day. This High School, popular and hard working produced a result of around 75% of pupils making the 5 A-C grade target, beating the national comprehensive average by an astonishing 13%, with a 75% versus 100% ability range starting point. Last week the government labelled it a failing school, because right now it has less than 30% 5 A-C grade including Maths and English, and if it stays that way in 3 years time, it will then be failing the government set target!

    My best advice to anxious parents all week has been to concentrate on motivating and encouraging your children to do their best. We will ensure the targets are met as we have done before, and will again. Probably just in time for the government to change the rules once more.....oh but by then we might have had a change of government, don't you think?