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Thursday, 22 October 2015 20:09

Talk at Conference on Admission to Grammar School and the Kent Test

 Kent Test Presentation

21 October 2015

NOTE: This presentation was made the day before KCC announced, on the initiative of the Leader, Paul Carter, that a commission was to be set up to explore wider access to grammar schools. My presentation closes with a section below that addresses precisely this issue.

I have amplified the presentation in places to pick up several discussion points.

You will find my article about the Conference here

Kent Test Conference

Photo of Matthew Bartlett at Kent Test Conference
Courtesy of Kent on Sunday

This presentation explores two main themes: admission to Kent grammar schools and the Kent Test. Some may think these are the same, but the reality is that the Kent Test provides only part of the opportunity for children to gain entry to grammar school, with alternative routes being such that there are no two grammar schools out of the 32 in Kent (nor indeed of the six in Medway), that have the same expectation of potential applicants.

Of course the hot news of the moment is the new annex in Sevenoaks and how it will affect school admissions, and I will also say a few words about that......

On a personal note, some of you will know that I am stepping back on my work on admissions and appeals, and have chosen to take a complete break this month apart from this evening. KCC used to offer a free independent advisory service at this time, but sadly government cuts have seen this removed to the specific disadvantage of those who least understand processes. Please make no mistake. Whilst in many parts of Kent and for most people, decisions on which schools to apply for are fairly straightforward, but in some situations, those least able to understand the process make serious mistakes, and of particular relevance this evening, are put off applying for grammar schools being bewildered by the appeals process, when children have the potential to succeed at grammar school.

32 Grammar Schools, 32 Admission profiles
Of Kent’s 32 grammar schools, three are what is called super selective, expecting entrants to achieve high scores in the Kent Test, although all three use different cut-offs and different rules for residence. Another six are partially super-selective, the Dartfords, Wilmingtons, Maidstone Grammar, and Simon Langton Boys, which each give priority to a differing proportion of high scoring pupils again operating on individual rules. Then there are the five that operate their own tests as an additional route to admission alongside the Kent Test, the Dover Grammars, the Folkestone Grammars and Mayfield in Gravesend. Several of these admit more than half their pupils via the local test, including Dover Girls Grammar which demonstrates the validity of the process by producing some of the best GCSE and A Level results in the county. Between them, these add in nearly 2% more of Kent children to the total passes.

That leaves 18 that admit on the straight pass score. The Kent Test, pass mark is set to admit 21% of the children of the county, but only passed 20% in 2014 the latest date for which I have this information at present, showing more success for girls, an issue to which I shall return later. 

2014  Kent Test Boys Girls Total % Boys % Girls % Total
Number of Kent Pupils 7986 7608 15594      
Took Kent Test 4883 5004 9887 61% 66% 63%
Automatic Pass 1555 1557 3112 19.5% 20.5% 20.0%

An interesting phenomenon is that the percentage of girls taking the test is significantly higher than that of boys, with a similar pattern in Medway. Why? 

However, this is only part of the story and the other two routes break the myth that the Kent Test is a one off pass or fail to enter grammar.

Headteacher Assessment
A second tranche of children are found of grammar school ability, by what is known as the “Headteacher Assessment”.  This rightly comes at the question of ability from a different direction, looking at children’s work, past test grades and headteachers recommendation that can cover any issues thought relevant and Emma will go into more detail on this.  

Headteacher Assessment is supposed to find another 4% of children selective across the county, but the reality can be higher, and in recent years has been as high as 6%, although falling over the past two years, to around 4.6 % for the most recent assessment. To complicate it further, the assessment of work traditionally favours girls so this splits, giving passes to 7.5% of girls and 5.5% of boys for the 2014 test (the 2015 figures being my best estimate from the data currently available).

Kent Test Headteacher Assessment Outcomes 2014 & 2015
  HTA Boys Girls Total % Boys % Girls % Total
2014 Entered 990 1082 2072 13% 14% 14%
Passed 443 567 1010 5.5% 7.5% 6.5%
2015
(estimated)
        5.2% 7.4% 6.3%

 An even greater issue is that with pressure of places in the west of the county, children are nearly twice as likely to get through in the east, with mid-Kent somewhere between.

The target overall pass rate is 25%, but for 2015, it is 25.6%, for the second time again favouring girls, by 26.6%, with the boys 24.7%. Under the old Kent Test, with no literacy component, boys led on the test itself, with girls coming out top on HTA, producing an even split on the final outcome. Now, we have seen in both years of the new Test, a considerable gap opening, favouring the girls, with consequent changes in the pressure on grammar school places for the two genders.

Overall pass Rates for Kent Children 2014 & 2015
  Boys Girls Total % Boys % Girls % Total
2014 2104 2176 4280 24.7% 26.6% 25.6%
2015 1998 2124 4122 25.0% 27.9% 26.4%
 
Grammar School Appeals
This of course is before grammar school appeals, which come from yet another direction, allowing parents to produce whatever evidence they wish to show their child is of grammar school ability.  Nearly 700 of these were successful this summer, over a hundred more than in 2014, but some can be discounted for this purpose for various reasons, such as children already passed seeking places in oversubscribed grammar schools and discounting out of county children, allowing at least 500 more Kent children to be found suitable for grammar school. The variation, school by school, in success rates at appeal is staggering, ranging from the astonishing figure of 146 from Chatham and Clarendon Grammar, in Ramsgate, with 33 successful, to 70 at Dartford Boys, with just 6 successful, five of who had already been found of grammar school ability by the Kent Test. That excludes Cranbrook School, the only grammar in the county with entry at age 13 plus, which had just one appeal which was unsuccessful.

Another specific example from me: Weald of Kent Grammar in 2014, had 48 successful appeals out of 69 as it sought to expand numbers, possibly in preparation for the Sevenoaks Annex. Last summer, when the annex looked in doubt, the school “discovered” it had no more room and the success rate fell sharply to 6 out of 70. For 2016 admission the school has amazingly found this no longer to be the case and is admitting an additional 60 girls, so I guess that successful appeals will once again rise in number, building towards the annex opening in 2017, unless the annex falls to a challenge when the expansion could suddenly vanish. Such variations although not usually as extreme as this are not uncommon as schools situations change.  For, increasingly, appeal panel decisions tend to reflect the meaning of “selective ability” according to demand for places at the school and the schools wishes.

Overall the appeal numbers amount to a further 3% of Kent children being offered places meaning that in total over 30% of Kent children will have been awarded grammar school places in the County for 2015 admissions and, for the above reasons, with a profile that can vary widely from school to school. As you can see, there is no way one can estimate the chance of success at appeal any more without understanding something about the school concerned and its priorities, although too many ill-informed prophets try. I cross checked my figure with the 2014 school census for comparison when 29% of Kent children were in Year Seven in Kent grammar schools, the discrepancy probably explained by the rise in successful grammar school appeals this year, and by children dropping out of the system to go to private schools.

The New Kent Test
So let us turn to the Test itself and the reason for the rise in appeals.

Part of the answer for the rise in appeals lies in the nature of the new Kent Test itself, now in its second year of operation, and introduced for two main reasons: to reduce the effect of coaching and also to introduce an element of literacy into the test.

Let us first look at the makeup of the test, for those unfamiliar with it. 

Structure of the Kent Test
There are two separate tests, each lasting about an hour, including practice sessions
The two papers are both multiple choice
Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning (two sections)
English and Mathematics
There is a third paper, a writing exercise, only used if there is a HTA
Marking the Kent Test
The two tests are both Multiple Choice, marked by Optical Mark Readers.
For 2015, results were divided into three equally weighted sections:
1) Reasoning Paper
2) English Section
3) Mathematics Section

 

Kent Test Marks
The Kent Test pass score is selected annually so that 21% of the Kent cohort of children will be found selective.
The marking for the Kent Test is nationally standardised, so that 21% of a sample of the national population achieves a score of 113 or better on each test.
National standardisation ensures that children born in each calendar month are measured against children of the same age. Research I have carried shows no significant advantage to being born in any month (as distinct from Medway)!
 

I must admit that after seeing the outcomes of last year’s test, requiring candidates to achieve a standardised score of just 106 in each of three multiple choice assessments in English, maths and reasoning, together with an aggregate score of 320, I forecast that the pass standard would rise this year, but I have been proved wrong. This should be a matter of concern.

A nationally standardised score of 106 places the child in the 34th percentile, far below the 21st percentile of the grammar school standard. This would be 113 in each test. I analysed individual scores last year (2015 figures still to come) in an attempt to find out the reason for this low mark and came to the following conclusions. Coaching still has a significant effect, with boys and girls achieving above national averages in each section but less than in the old Kent Test. However, it is impossible to be precise as at KS2 Kent children were performing above national averages at both Level 4 and also Level 5, the target for grammar school performance which may account for much or all of the three points average raise above the national average. There is however, an effect clearly seen in the reasoning tests, which averaged 5 standardised points higher than both English and maths. The main reason that the cut-off of 106 is so low, is that children (mainly boys) scored higher in mathematics or (mainly girls) English but too many were not up to standard in both.

Scores in Individual sections of the Kent Test 2014
2014
Maximum
Mark
Pass Mark
21% Score
Boys
21% Score
Girls
Reasoning
141
106
 121
 121
English
140
106
 114
 116
Mathematics
141
106
 118
 116

What I do believe this also shows is that the reasoning test is more susceptible to coaching in any case, and as it is different from normal classwork, that is where the emphasis has again been placed too highly by those preparing children for the test.

Literacy and numeracy should be central to any programme of preparation for the eleven plus and good coaching here can only be of benefit to children’s achievement.

There is now a further worry about the new Test, and that is that there will be children who are passing automatically with scores that can be as low as 106,106, 108. These could be children who are not up to standard and I have already heard reports from several grammar schools of such children who are already struggling. Of course, some may just be the product of poor teaching and will flourish in their new environment. Many of those they have displaced will have evidence of grammar school ability, and so hopefully will win through on headteacher assessment or appeal.

So where now? I am confident the new Test is a more effective model than the “Old Kent Test” in that it both reduces the effect of coaching and also places more reliance on curriculum assessments. However, the low pass standard is certainly letting too many children into grammar school who may not be up to standard, and I once again expect it to rise for next year, when the message gets home that English and maths are the key to success. It does beg the question that, if with most children who fail, the deciding factor is the English or maths, what then is the purpose of the reasoning, the most coachable element of the test?

Wider social Access to Grammar Schools
Then there is the recent Report of the Sutton Trust, committed to promoting equality of opportunity, into the performance of grammar schools.

It is highly critical of too many grammar schools for shutting the doors of opportunity and rewarding the effects of coaching. In typical Trust fashion it does come up with some possible ways forward, several of which are already developing in Kent.

Sutton Trust Recommendations
1) Ensure the testing system does not disadvantage pupils from low and middle income backgrounds.
2) Provide a minimum ten hours test preparation for all pupils to provide a more level playing field.
3) Improve outreach work significantly, actively encouraging high achieving students from low and middle income backgrounds to apply.
4) Schools should consider the merits of powers available in the admissions code to attract high achieving students who are entitled to the Pupil Premium.
5) Primary schools could do more to encourage their high achieving children to apply to grammar schools in selective areas, and develop partnerships with grammar schools.
6) Build new partnerships with non-selective schools to support their high achieving students
 
Comments:
1) Any Test will place such children at a disadvantage. The task is to minimise this, as can be seen in several of the new local alternative tests, such as the ones in Dover and Folkestone.
2) An excellent proposal, especially as the only research (now quite old) suggests this is the optimum amount of time for preparing for reasoning tests with a specific pass mark (the grammar school standard).
3) This is already happening with at least two grammar schools, those in Sittingbourne, who run “Aim High” classes for primary school children.
4)Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School in Faversham offers this as a priority in its oversubscription criteria.
5) I agree, but there is much good practice around.
6) There are already examples of this in existence, such as the one between Canterbury Academy and Simon Langton Boys’ Grammar School.
 
Conclusion
As the Sutton Trust and others remind us, admission to grammar school can be fiercely competitive. Outside the state schools, many private schools exist primarily to secure places at grammar school. The large and rapidly expanding tutoring industry can be very effective in the same aim, where it is good, but it is as yet unregulated – so beware. This is an understandable outcome of parental aspirations to get their children into grammar school or perhaps the right grammar school, some going so far as to use both private and coaching routes to get there, in extreme cases, from the age of five.

Kent has a selective system, comprising both grammar and non-selective schools, which overall performs above its expectation at both GCSE and A Level. There is no appetite to change this, so the task is to make the selection process as fair as possible and I believe the new test and the admission flexibilities are a step in the right direction; implementation of the recommendations of the Sutton Trust on a wider scale would take it further. 

Last modified on Wednesday, 30 December 2015 20:12

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  • Provisional GCSE Results for Medway 2017

    Last year the long established 5 A*-C GCSE league table including English and maths was scrapped, being replaced by two new assessments, Progress 8 and Attainment 8. Both these are measured by an arcane formula combining results in eight curriculum subjects to produce numbers whose meaning and spread is very difficult to comprehend, but enable schools to be placed in an order. Government has made amendments to further reflect policy, which has the unintended effect in Kent and Medway of further rewarding the top performing grammar schools and diminishing those with a higher proportion with lower abilities.  

    These Provisional results are issued at this time to enable families to be better informed when making secondary school choices. Last year a number of schools saw a small improvement in results in the final version to be published  in January.Unfortunately, once again, there has been such little publicity given to them that most families are not even aware of their existence. 

    The key measure is Progress 8 (full table here) which looks at progress from the end of primary school to the end of Year 11, comparing pupils to others nationally, who begin from the same starting point, with Medway above average at 0.04, against a National average of -0.03. Victory Academy is the only non-selective school to split the six grammars at the top, with Greenacre next.   

    Attainment 8 (full table here) simply measures what it says, with Medway just below the National average of  46 at 45.5, although there is a variety of other statistics to choose from to suit your case. 

    Further information below, including the performance of individual schools, and a look at another measure, the English Baccalaureate ......


    Progress 8
    The key measure is Progress 8 (full table here) which looks at progress from the end of primary school to the end of Year 11, comparing pupils to others nationally, who begin from the same starting point, with Medway above average at 0.05, against a National average of -0.03. There is a single floor standard which schools are expected to achieve, of -0.5, and all secondary schools have exceeded this. Both measures have had their methodology changed to suit government priorities and the new grading system for English and maths. As a result, numbers are not directly comparable, but grammar schools appear to have been further advantaged.  
     
    Schools are divided into a number of groups: well above average; above average; average; below average; and well below average and below floor level. Schools placed in the last category can expect government intervention.
     
    Grammar Schools
    I am not sure that in Medway, with the grammar schools dominating the top of the table, this proves they necessarily offer better teaching; rather, there is a strong element of – ‘brighter pupils can be stretched further’.

    The table is led by Rochester Grammar, the only Medway school to score 'Well above Average' for progress from Key Stage 2 to GCSE.  Chatham Grammar Girls is only making average progress.

    Grammar School Progress 8
    Scores for 2017
    School Score
    Well Above Average 
     Rochester Grammar 0.89 
    Sir Joseph Williamson's 0.85
    Above Average
     Holcombe Grammar 0.49
    Fort Pitt Grammar

    0.42

    Rainham Mark Grammar 0.24
    Average
    Chatham Grammar Girls 0.02
     
    Non-Selective Schools
    Government classifies  schools into groups, with just Victory Academy achieving 'above average' level, with all schools but Medway UTC achieving the floor standard. It is difficult to asses the UTCs poor performance as this is its first GCSE Year, and recruiting in Year 11, the Progress 8 could be regarded as down in part to the student's previous schools. All are volunteers, with no requirement for technology aptitude or interest. However, it appears that the UTC has not re-vitalised their education. 
     
    Non-Selective Progress 8
    Scores for 2017
     School  Score School  Score 
    Above Average   Robert Napier
    -0.09
     Victory Academy  0.32  Howard School  -0.12
     Average 
    Brompton Academy -0.13 
    Greenacre 0 Below Average  
    Thomas Aveling

    0

    Strood Academy -0.27
     Rainham Girls -0.02 Walderslade Girls  -0.34
    Hundred of Hoo -0.04 Well Below Average 
    and below Floor Level of -0.5
    St John Fisher Catholic  -0.06 Medway UTC -0.9
     
    Attainment  8
    Here, scores come out looking somewhat like a GCSE league table, but flattened at the top, far fewer schools with lower ability children have reached the score of 40 than last year, when I made a working comparison with the floor level of the previous Floor Level of 40% of a school's pupils achieving 5 GCSE A-Cs.
     
    Grammar Schools 
    Not surprisingly, here the grammar schools sweep the table completely. 
     
    Grammar School Attainment 8 Scores for 2016
    School Score
     Rochester Grammar 70.8 
    Sir Joseph Williamson's  69.7
     Rainham Mark Grammar 63.9
    Holcombe Grammar 62.2
    Fort Pitt Grammar 60.5
    Chatham Grammar Girls 57.1
     
    Non-Selective Schools 
    The popularity or otherwise of Non-Selective schools is heavily polarised, with Brompton Academy one of the most oversubscribed in the whole of Kent and Medway. It is followed at some length by Thomas Aveling, Strood Academy and the Howard School. At the other end are three schools with a large number of vacancies, Robert Napier, Victory Academy and St John Fisher. The last two named, as well as having below average progress grades, are below the 40 points mark. However, this data suggests that Robert Napier is at long last on the turn for the good.  Walderslade Girls appears to be struggling, with the headteacher having moved on.  
      
    Non-Selective Attainment 8
    Scores for 2016
     School  Score School  Score 
    Rainham Girls  42.5  St John Fisher 37.9
    Hundred of Hoo 41.3 Brompton Academy 37.4
    Thomas Aveling 40.8 Strood Academy
    37.3
    Greenacre 40.2 Walderslade Girls 35.6
    Howard School 39.6 Robert Napier 35.2
    Victory Academy 38.2 Medway UTC 29.5
     
    English Baccalaureate
    This is a third measure towards which the government was trying to nudge schools, by measuring the percentage of pupils achieving a Grade C or better in five specific subject areas: English, maths, a science, a language, and history or geography. It is designed to encourage schools towards more academic subjects and away from those thought intellectually easier, which government considers is an easy way to score, although Progress 8 and Attainment 8 already go some way towards that.
     
    Rochester Grammar School is unsurprisingly at the top of the lists, with 90% of its pupils passing the required subjects. It is followed by Sir Joseph Williamson with 82% and then Rainham Mark with 53%. All three schools have seen a fall in percentages, although I am not sure what this means, except that perhaps schools are seeing it as less important than when it was introduced. Top non-selective school is Rainham School for Girls with 20%, followed by Hundred of Hoo with 14%. At the bottom are the Robert Napier and Victory Academy with no students meeting this standard. 
    Written on Monday, 16 October 2017 16:29 Be the first to comment! Read 28 times
  • Provisional GCSE Results for Kent 2017

    Update on Simon Langton  Boys below

    Medway Outcomes here

    This is the second year of the new GCSE assessments for measuring schools performance, Progress 8 and Attainment 8, which replace the long established 5 A*-C GCSE league table including English and maths. Both these are measured by an arcane formula combining results in eight curriculum subjects to produce numbers whose meaning and spread is very difficult to comprehend, but enable schools to be placed in an order. 

    The key measure is Progress 8 (full table here) which looks at progress from the end of primary school to the end of Year 11, comparing pupils to others nationally, who begin from the same starting point, and is rightly given priority in measuring performance.  Under this measure, Kent is slightly below the National Average of -0.03, at -0.11.

    Meopham 2

    Attainment 8 (full table here) simply measures what it says, with Kent exactly equalling the National score of 46 ranked 60th out of all Local Authorities, although there is a variety of other statistics provided to choose from to suit your case. Both measures have had their methodology changed to suit government priorities and the new grading system for English and maths. As a result, numbers are not directly comparable.  

    Headlines: the Grammar School progress table is no longer the sole preserve of West Kent and super-selectives with four girls' schools  invading the top eight. Highworth, Invicta, Folkestone Girls' and Maidstone Girls have joined Tonbridge, TWGGS, and Dartford Girls', leaving Dartford as the only boys school. Both Oakwood Park and Chatham and Clarendon come below the national average, along with one provisional result for a school which failed for technical reasons, as explained below.   

    Top non-selective school is Bennett Memorial, one of six church schools in the top ten, the top three ever present also including St Simon Stock and St Gregory's. All these three are wholly selective on religious grounds, and at the top also in attainment. For the second consecutive year there are remarkable performances by Meopham School and Orchards Academy, neither of which have the built in advantages of other top performers. As last year eight schools were below the government floor level with well-below average progress  facing government intervention, five the same as last year. 

    Five of the top six grammar schools on attainment are unsurprisingly super-selective in West and North West Kent - along with Tunbridge Wells Girls'. These are the same schools as in 2016, balanced by five boys and one mixed grammar at the foot.  The Non-selective table is led by three church schools, Bennett Memorial leading the way above two grammar schools. Five non-selective schools are at the foot of both Progress and Attainment Tables.

    Orchards 1

    Further information below. including the performance of individual schools......

    Read more...
    Written on Saturday, 14 October 2017 18:11 2 comments Read 263 times
  • Kent Test Results 2017: Initial outcomes

    I now have initial information regarding the Medway Test, happily provided promptly, posted here.

    Kent Test results have now been published with the pass mark the same as last year. An automatic pass has again been awarded to candidates scoring 106 on each of the three sections - English; maths and reasoning – along with an aggregate score across the three sections of 320. This total will again be around 21% of the total age cohort across the county, with further details to follow as I receive them.

    An additional number of children will have been found to be of grammar school standard through what is called the Headteacher Assessment, usually around 6% of the total. You will find full details of the whole Kent Test process here. Overall, these two processes last year yielded passes for 26% of Kent children in the age cohort.  

    One important and welcome change is that KCC are now making individual test scores available to parents who registered online from 5 p.m., so there will no longer be the anxious wait or chasing up of primary schools for results of previous years.

    As last year, I  shall be publishing a second article later when I receive more data from KCC. 

    You will find initial figures released by KCC below, together with further information and ways I can support you. I find that the information articles on the website (RHS of this and every page) with links below, answer the majority of questions I receive. 

    As usual there are hysterical and grossly misleading headlines in some online newspapers about the shortage of grammar school places, which have whipped up a torrent of unnecessary fears on some of the more neurotic online forums (often driven by out of county families). Although KCC cannot guarantee every Kent child who has passed, a place in a Kent grammar school (not necessarily of their choice), there have been no reported cases in recent years of Kent children not getting in who are looking for a place, although a few have had to go to appeal. Further thoughts below. 

    Read more...
    Written on Wednesday, 11 October 2017 17:23 4 comments Read 1514 times
  • Medway Test Results 2017

     I am rarely caught out completely by admission matters, but events at the two Chatham grammar schools for entry in September 2017 have completely amazed me. These are compounded by the Medway Test results this year, when the built in bias towards girls’ success has completely vanished, as explained below.

    The Medway Test outcomes, in summary, have seen 23% of the Medway cohort this year found suitable for grammar school before Reviews take place, which is exactly on target as in 2016. However, the annual gender differential stretching back for years, which saw 25% of girls passing the test as against 21% of boys in 2016, has disappeared, with 23% of both boys and girls passing for admission in 2018.

    Both Chatham grammar schools have been suffering from a shortage of pupils in recent years: in 2015, Chatham Girls admitted just 93 pupils with a planned admission number of 142; and Holcombe Grammar (previously Chatham Boys) 106, PAN 120. This September Chatham Girls has admitted over 180 pupils, Holcombe over 150.

    The main reason for this dramatic surge in numbers is the influx of London children who, uniquely in Medway are grammar qualified for the two Chatham’s by virtue of success in the Kent Test. For September 2018 entry, there were 659 out of county passes, including 263 from London Boroughs (the largest number as always were the 381 from Kent).

    So, what do these remarkable outcomes offer for 2018 entry? Some thoughts below, together with further analysis of Medway Test results. You will find further information on the Review process and its implications for appeals, here, which will answer most queries.

    Read more...
    Written on Wednesday, 11 October 2017 19:36 1 comment Read 399 times
  • Unlawful Grammar School Admissions: Holcombe (Medway); Maidstone Girls; and Invicta

    The DfE has now ruled, as I forecast in my article entitled ‘Shame on Holcombe Grammar School and Medway Council’, that actions such as those of the Thinking Schools Academy Trust (TSAT) in placing pupils registered with Holcombe Grammar School at another school for their education are unlawful.  This illegality has been supported by Medway Council in yet another failure by them.

    As a result, the pupils are now being placed back at Holcombe, but not until Term Two, although they have known of the decision for over a week already and could surely have been moved much earlier if the pupils’ interests were any sort of priority.

    Chatham Boys 3

     

    This is the third such case relating to school admissions locally in less than a year, where the DFE, and in one case the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO), has ruled the schools’ practices unlawful; but sadly the arrogance of these institutions has seen no semblance of apology from any. It is clear that the extent of accountability only covers ensuring that wrongdoing no longer happens to other children, and damages confidence in the large majority of reputable schools.

    This article focuses primarily on events at Holcombe/Invicta Academy, but also looks at Maidstone Grammar School for Girls’ response to the LGO finding of their unlawful actions, and consequences of the Invicta/St Olave’s scandal. 

    Read more...
    Written on Saturday, 14 October 2017 12:38 Be the first to comment! Read 212 times
  • Medway Council Fails the Medway Test Yet Again

    Update: From around 10 p.m. Monday, emails from Simon Harrington (Student Services Manager, Medway Council), informing parents whether child (no name) has passed the Medway Test or not, but no scores. Closing date for Review is next Monday, 19th October, so day lost in short time scale. At least he is trying!

    Following the 2016 Medway Test debacle, when wrong scores were sent out to some families whose children had taken the Medway Test, there is tremendous frustration this year, as the online system is failing to work at the time of writing (9 p.m., 9th October), results supposed to be available from 4 p.m.

    The Medway Council Twitter account offered a typically useless response, at 4.14 p.m, after which everyone appears to have gone home:

    “We're experiencing technical difficulties with our telephone lines. Apologies for any inconvenience caused”

     

    Naturally no mention of the online service not working. Who do they think they will fool!

    Update, 8 p.m from Medway Council:  

    We know that sometimes there is a delay through service providers but please be assured they have all been sent.

     

    How unfortunate that all the service providers in the system had a delay of at least two hours!

    At present the Council appears to have provided no further information, although I understand that the pass mark this year is 495, and that results have been sent in the post, hopefully to arrive tomorrow, Tuesday. You may find that your child’s headteacher is willing to divulge the score earlier tomorrow.

    As with last year’s failure, I would have thought it worthwhile deploying an officer after 5 p.m. to solve the problem, but ‘Serving You’ clearly does not extend to this.

    Medway Council Logo 

    Those not caught up in this situation may be unable to comprehend the angst caused to families who have been waiting anxiously for outcomes that may decide their children’s future education path, but I can assure them it is very real, and unfortunately typical of Medway Council’s incompetence.

    Read more...
    Written on Monday, 09 October 2017 21:09 1 comment Read 432 times