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I have now had further opportunity to look at data relating to the recent Kent Test outcomes for Admission in September 2017, with a summary of the statistics below.  This article expands my initial lookat the 2016 Kent Test results, written in October, which should be read in conjunction with the article. The figures do not match exactly, as adjustments and late tests have produced changes.
Headlines are:
  • A fall in the proportion of Kent children taking the Kent Test from 64% to 60%, and a 9% fall in the number of children put forward for Headteacher Assessments (HTA).
  • Girls are still ahead on both automatic test passes since the Test was changed in 2014, and also in HTAs, but the gaps have narrowed.
  • As in previous years, the highest proportion of HTA success is in East Kent, the lowest in West Kent.
  • The fall in HTA successes has resulted in an overall fall in success from 26.1% to 25.7%, nearer the target of 25%.
  • There is an increase in the proportion of children on Pupil Premium found selective to 9.1% of the Kent state school total passes,brought about through headteachers recognising ability in the HTA, where coaching is irrelevant.

amherst       Ethelbert Road

  • Schools with the highest proportion of Kent successes are split between East and West: Amherst Junior (Sevenoaks); Ethelbert Road (Faversham); Ramsgate Holy Trinity CofE; and Claremont (Tunbridge Wells). 
  • Another leap in Out of County Passes, around 80% of whom will not take up places.  

For more details see below:

Published in News and Comments
Thursday, 13 October 2016 11:11

Kent Test Results 2016, Initial figures

You will find a much more detailed and later analysis 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. 

Initial figures released by KCC are below, together with further information and ways I can support you. 

Published in News and Comments
Saturday, 09 January 2016 19:39

Further analysis of Kent test results

I have now had further opportunity to look at data relating to the recent Kent Test outcomes for Admission in September 2016, with a summary of the statistics below.  
Headlines are:
Girls again out-perform boys both on automatic passes and on Headteacher Assessments (HTAs, see below)
The pass mark of 106 in each of English, Maths and Reasoning, for the second year running, means that some children, a third of the way down the ability range, are being given automatic entry to grammar school. New theory below.
The overall Kent pass percentage of 26.1% is above the target of 25%, thanks to high proportion of successful HTAs again, especially in East Kent, notably Canterbury.
Highest proportion of grammar success are both from East Kent primary schools: Challock and Tunstall.
The rise in out of county test passes from 1494 in 2014, to 1974 this year, masks situations such as the primary school in Croydon which had 27 of its 90 children taking the Kent Test. Why?
Published in News and Comments

The recent Conference on the Kent Test and Admission to Grammar Schools in Kent which took place at County Hall Maidstone on Wednesday, was a great success, with those attending including: primary and grammar school representatives and headteachers, parents, school governors, appeal presenting officers and panellists, tutors and media representatives.

The Conference was set up to focus on five themes: the New Kent Test, sat earlier this month for the second time; alternatives to the Test, with five Kent grammar schools now setting their own tests as an additional way of qualifying for grammar school; how primary schools approach the Kent Test and the controversial issue of coaching; appeals to grammar schools; and the range of expectations of standards for admission to Kent grammar schools. The four speakers, myself included, gave presentations that covered all these issues between them,  and you will find a copy of my own presentation here, with coverage by Kent on Sunday here

Kent Test Conference

Matthew Bartlett at Kent Test Conference
photo courtesy of Kent on Sunday

 

Interestingly, and topically there was considerable emphasis placed on opening grammar school admissions to a wider social profile, given the announcement by KCC the day after the Conference that they were setting up a commission for this very purpose. Matthew Bartlett, head of Dover Grammar School for Girls, underlined this theme by talking about how the alternative Dover Test had widened opportunities for local girls, a school with 10% Free School Meals, whilst still producing some of the best examination results in the county.......

Published in Peter's Blog
Tuesday, 13 October 2015 18:41

Kent Test Results 2015, Initial figures

UPDATE 18/10 WITH ADDITIONAL DATA SEPARATING PERFORMANCE OF BOYS AND GIRLS

THERE IS NOW CONSIDERABLE EXTRA DATA IN THE TRANSCRIPT OF A TALK I GAVE ON THE KENT TEST AND ADMISSION TO GRAMMAR SCHOOL AT THE RECENT CONFERENCE IN COUNTY HALL. 

Kent Test results have  now been published with to me the surprising feature that the pass mark is the same as last year, an automatic pass being 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. I say surprising, for reasons outlined in an article I wrote after last year’s test, which was the first of the new style test designed to reduce the coaching effect and introduce an element of literacy to the test. This total will again be around 21% of the total age cohort across the county, 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 hereOverall, these two processes last year yielded passes for 27% of Kent children in the age cohort.  

As with last year, the number of Kent girls being found suitable for grammar school is higher than the number of boys, although as I don't yet have the size of the cohort, it is impossible to predict with confidence last year's finding that 2.9% more of Kent girls passed than boys, although I anticipate a similar finding.

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

Initial figures released by KCC are as follows:....

Published in News and Comments

As regular browsers will know, I make considerable use of the Freedom of Information Act to secure information about education matters in Kent and Medway for parents. However, it is important to use the service responsibly and not make requests that will obviously be refused on grounds of unreasonableness. Two recent requests about the Kent Test:

I understand head teachers will now know our child's results under
this act please can I know my child's results too?

 

Please could I see a copy of the Kent Test for the
years 2014 & 2015?

 

Very reasonably and politely, Kent County Council responded:

Published in Peter's Blog

I was invited to speak at the National Tutoring Conference on 1st April 2015, to the title: "The Kent 11 Plus test was changed to make it less susceptible to coaching. What happened next?" The following is the script I planned to follow, but as those who have heard me speaking before will know. Do not assume I kept to it!

Kent is the largest Local Authority in the country, with 20% of the nation’s grammar schools, 32 in number, all admitting students through success in the Kent 11 plus. Around three years ago, the Cabinet Member for Education in Kent uttered those immortal words: “not fit for purpose” about the Kent Test. There were two main issues, firstly that tutoring was introducing an unfair skew into the outcomes, and secondly that the absence of any element of literacy in the assessments was allowing too many children who were unable to write properly through to grammar school.

I hope you will find that many of the conclusions in this talk apply to grammar schools in other parts of the country.......

Published in Newspaper Articles
Monday, 26 January 2015 16:22

Kent Test Results 2014: Girls on top

As in previous years, I have prepared a variety of statistics relating to the Kent Test, published below along with my comments. 

Headlines:

  • Overall, 28% of girls and 25% of boys across Kent were assessed as of grammar school standard, a considerable shift in favour of girls' success over previous years, when the two figures have been very similar. 
  • 20.6% of children in the "selective areas" of Kent gained an automatic pass, close to the target figure of 21%. The new Kent Test for 2014 saw considerable change in the pattern of passes, with children required to reach a standardised score of 106 in each of the three assessments of reasoning, English and maths, with an aggregate score of 320. You will find further details here. More girls than boys took the test and more girls than boys passed. The figures for 2014 entry showed a bias towards boys success in the test, but the introduction of English has tilted it the other way. 
  •  Another 6.2% of children, attending linked primary schools in these areas of Kent, secured selective assessments through Headteacher Assessment, target 4%.
  • 49% % of Head Teacher Assessments were successful. As usual, the proportion of referrals and the percentage of passes is highest in the East and lowest in the West of Kent. Also as in previous years, many more girls than boys were found of grammar school ability by this route. With the girls also coming out on top in automatic passes, there is a fall of 82 in the number of boys  passing in spite of an increase of 165 in the number of boys attending  Kent state maintained schools in Year 6, and a rise of  141 girls passing against a decrease of 114 in the number of girls in Year 6. 

Note: All these statistics come with a health warning, as the number of children in private schools is not always known (possibly 6% across the county), and such schools are often omitted from statistics.

Published in News and Comments
Thursday, 13 November 2014 00:00

The Conundrum of Kent Test scores solved

Like many others, I have puzzled over the low pass mark of 106 required in each of the three assessments of English, Maths and Reasoning to produce 21% of children taking the Kent Test assessed of grammar school standard.

The Tests are nationally standardised so one would expect an untutored child on each test to score 113 to come in the top 21%. An initial look at these figures might suggest that Kent children are less bright than average, but a closer investigation of scores for the individual subjects, shows a very different picture and provides a full explanation of the conundrum.

Quite simply, whilst the majority of children have scored considerably more highly in the reasoning test than in the mathematics or English, a large number have failed to reach the standard in one of maths or English, dragging down the pass mark to provide the numbers.

As a result 4446 Kent children reached the pass level of 106 in English, and 4884 in maths, out of a total of 9902 taking the test, but less than half this figure will have passed in both!

In summary, Kent children have outperformed the national standard in all three assessments, whether through natural ability or the effect of tutoring on maths and English being open to question. However, the tutoring effect is still seen to the full in the Reasoning assessment, although this now counts for just one third of the assessment compared with the two thirds of previous years.

In my view, this data shows the new Kent Test has been highly successful if its aim was to select children with ability in both maths and English, and reduce the effect of tutoring, although the days of the bright male mathematician whose literacy skills are poor are over, if this pattern is repeated in future years.

The Judd School, which has been influential in the design of the new test, with its call to reduce the effect of coaching and improve standards of literacy in its intake, should be well pleased with this outcome and is surely likely to back off from its plan to introduce its own test for the 2016 intake.

I have already published an article on the Kent Test outcomes, and another on my reflections of the admissions season this year, both of which now need to be read in the context of the above. As soon as I receive the necessary data from KCC, I shall also publish a full analysis of Kent (and Medway) test outcomes. .....

Published in News and Comments

This has been a particularly busy admission season for me, primarily because the change in structure and scoring pattern of the Kent Test have considerably increased uncertainty about chances of access to super selective schools and appeal success to grammar schools across the county. My news item on the Kent Test saw the fastest rate of hits ever on the website, totalling 7000 in just over a week. The article on the Medway Test, with about a sixth the number of applicants has already attracted over 3000 visitors.

The other major factor has been the urban myth and misinformation circulating amongst parents, too often driven by some primary headteachers trying to be helpful and some secondary headteachers keen to encourage numbers.

I have covered most of the comment and information below in previous news and information items on this website, but now that most  Secondary School Common Application Forms (SCAF) have been submitted, I have time to reflect. Kent parents will know that exceptionally, KCC has extended the closing date to 5th November (nationally it was 31st October) to give parents good time to consult schools after the Kent Tests results were sent out, allowing for half-term in between.

I hear many good reports about the advice freely given by KCC School Admissions, and know that, as always, the Department has been massively overworked. However, they are not allowed to comment about individual schools as I am. Medway Council also runs an advice service. 

I explore these issues and a variety of others below......

Published in News and Comments
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  • Knole Academy and the Scandal of Exorbitant Headteacher Pay in Kent and Medway

    Update: Shortly after I published this article, the BBC has led with the same issue on its website. 

    The headteacher of The Knole Academy in Sevenoaks, a moderately performing single school academy, was paid £210,000 in 2016-17 making her the highest paid academy head or Chief Executive in Kent and Medway. This is an increase of 35% over the past three years after what can only be described as an irresponsible series of decisions by Governors, bringing the whole process into disrepute, and undermining the credibility of the very real financial crisis in schools, as explained below. By contrast the Principal of Homewood School, the largest secondary school in the county, had a salary of just £110,000 last year, one of majority of secondary heads around or below £100,000.

    knole

    After Knole the next two highest paid heads are the Principals of Leigh Academy and Wilmington Academy, both part of the Leigh Academy Trust, who each received £200,000 in remuneration, including their roles as Directors of the Trust. They were followed by the CEOs of two of Kent’s largest Academy Trusts, both responsible for more than a dozen primary and secondary schools: Swale AT and Leigh AT at £190,000 and £180,000 respectively.

    Grammar School Academy Headteachers are generally paid from around £85,000 to £110,000 annually, with Dartford Grammar School, the largest and most oversubscribed grammar school in the county on the latter sum. Highest paid Grammar School Head is at Rainham Mark Grammar, Medway. with £155,000 (£90,000 for HT salary, £65,000 for Academy Trust CEO), followed by Barton Court, Canterbury, at £125,000 (also a Trust CEO).

    At primary level the previous highest earner, the Head of Meopham Community Academy, has now retired from his £150,000 salary post, his replacement being employed at less than half of that rate. The highest paid heads of schools or multi academy trusts I have found this time round are the same two single standing academies as previously: The Academy of Woodlands in Gillingham, £105,000 in 2015-16, and St Stephen’s Academy, a Junior school in Canterbury on, the same figure for 2016-17.

    I look more closely at the Knole situation, and that of other high paying academies below. 

    Read more...
    Written on Wednesday, 21 February 2018 20:29 4 comments Read 274 times
  • Medway Council fails its most vulnerable children

    Medway Council has once again failed its children, this time the most vulnerable, as confirmed by a scathing Ofsted Report on its ‘services’ to children with Special Education Needs and Disabilities, published this week. The report concludes ‘Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector (HMCI) has determined that a Written Statement of Action is required because of significant areas of weakness in the local area’s practice’. I think that is putting it politely. There are strengths identified; it just happens that all these appear to be down to the health service and not education.

    Concerns centre about chaotic management of the ‘Service’, resulting in failure to take necessary action. This can be seen from the following quotes: ’Medway’s education and service leaders do not share one vision and strategy for SEN and/or disabilitiesNo arrangements are in place to ensure effective joint oversight and clear lines of accountabilityLittle progress has been made in addressing several of the pressing priorities for improvement identified as far back as 2012Leaders’ understanding of what has and has not improved in the meantime is limited. I could have chosen many others.

    Medway

    'The collaborative work between professionals and children and their families to plan services and meet individual needs, known as co-production, is weak at both a strategic and individual level' This criticism is underpinned by the heavy criticism of the implementation of Education and Health Care Plans for children with the greatest needs, which are at the heart of Departmental work, and ‘A considerable number of parents shared concerns with inspectors that the needs of their children are not being identified and met sufficiently well’.

    There is of course reference to Medway's record exclusion rates: ‘Although improving, rates of permanent and fixed-term exclusion are still notably higher for pupils who have SEN and/or disabilities in Medway than for similar pupils nationally, as it is for all pupils. Lack of specialist provision has brought serious consequences for pupils with severe SEN or disabilities travelling out of Medway daily on long and very expensive journeys.  

    Read more...
    Written on Saturday, 10 February 2018 22:33 4 comments Read 279 times
  • Goodwin Academy – SchoolsCompany Trust on the way out?

    Updated 15th February: see also comment below.

    The new Interim Chief Executive of SchoolsCompany Trust has apologised in a letter to parents of pupils at the Goodwin Academy for ‘previous financial failings, which are unacceptable’.

    Sadly, this has come as little surprise to me, as I foresaw issues as early as 2014, when I noted in an article that SchoolsCompany had contributed to the startling decline of the predecessor school Castle Community College (CCC), in Deal from Ofsted Outstanding to Special Measures in three short years. As a reward SchoolsCompany took over as sponsor of the school as recently as July 2016. The school was awkwardly renamed SchoolsCompany Goodwin Academy, presumably to advertise the name of the Sponsors as a priority, above creating a new school image.     

    The Academy limped on for a period, after 2014, with the 'support' of SchoolsCompany,  unpopular with a third of its places unfilled, and underperforming, although there have recent strong signs of improvement under new school leadership. Unusually, eight of the eleven Company Trustees were paid a salary by the Trust, hardly an inducement for encouraging scrutiny. After the school received a Financial Notice to Improvefrom the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) in October, seven of the Trustees resigned including the Executive Principal of the Company This left the school with just four Trustees including the CEO and founder of the company, Elias Achilleos, although he now appears to have been replaced by the new Interim Chief Executive.  The Trust has demonstrably failed some of the Financial Notice's requirements for improvement. 

    Goodwin Academy

    The school will clearly have a future in its new £25 million premises opened four months ago on October 6th, just three weeks before Trustees resigned en masse, but it looks increasingly likely it will not be with Schools Company. Indeed a more than doubling of first preferences to 173 for 2018 admission, shows confidence in the school and its leadership, achieved without obvious input from the few remaining Trust members. 

    Read more...
    Written on Thursday, 08 February 2018 10:43 4 comments Read 696 times
  • School Vacancies according to the 2017 School Census for Kent and Medway

    As schools come under tighter financial pressures (never mind official news, but ask your local school how it is managing), pupil numbers become ever more critical as they generate the largest part of the income of each school. This article looks at a number of issues in Kent and Medway highlighted by the October 2017 schools census. 

    Which seven Kent secondary schools have more than 40% of their Year 7 places empty for September 2017? 

    Which four of these were more than half empty in Year 7 for 2016, with two over 40% for all of the past three years?

    Which secondary school lost over a third of its cohort Years 7-11?

    Which two secondary schools, one in Kent one in Medway, lost over a fifth of their cohort Years 9-11,
    a pattern associated with off-rolling.  

    Which six grammar schools lost over 20% of their pupils at the end of Year Eleven?

    What happened after last year’s Year 12 expulsion scandal at Invicta Grammar and elsewhere?

    Which six primary schools (two in Medway) failed to fill half their places for each of the last two years?

    Answers to these questions and more below.

    Read more...
    Written on Thursday, 01 February 2018 08:53 4 comments Read 610 times
  • Kent GCSE Results Final Outcomes

    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. 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, 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 46.3 ranked 60th out of all Local Authorities, although there is a variety of other statistics provided to choose from to suit your case. 

    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.   

    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. 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. Six schools are below the government floor level with well-below average progress, down from eight last year, and so  facing government intervention. 

    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. Four 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 Friday, 26 January 2018 12:46 Be the first to comment! Read 469 times
  • Holcombe Grammar loses its bid to go Co-Ed. An excellent decision by the DfE in the interests of Medway children!

    I make no apologies for this being the fourth consecutive news item about Medway on this site but, as my previous articles suggest, the education system in the Authority has become unstable, with self-interest by academy chains driving decisions.

    Chatham Boys 3

    The controversial proposal for Holcombe Grammar School (previously Chatham Grammar School for Boys) to become co-educational has just been turned down for the second time by the DFE. This was no doubt for sound reasons, including those I have identified previously, most recently here.  When the school first proposed the change, it made clear in its paperwork that it did not care about any damage a change would cause to Chatham Grammar School for Girls by increasing the number of girls' school places where there was already a surplus. It would also alter the balance of grammar school provision in Medway to just one heavily oversubscribed boys' grammar and three girls' schools, along with two mixed grammar schools.

    This is one of the worst of a number recent proposals for change by Medway secondary schools, the reality being that neither Chatham grammar school was attracting enough local children to be viable in the long term at that time. 

    BUT: Congratulations to the Thinking Schools Academy Trust, which runs Holcombe Grammar School and features in most of my recent Medway articles, by being identified in a government analysis as the highest performing Multi-Academy Trust nationally in KS4 (GCSE) Progress 8 Assessment Tables
    Read more...
    Written on Thursday, 25 January 2018 15:11 6 comments Read 481 times