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News Archive - Kent Independent Education Advice
Sunday, 07 September 2014 00:00

Kent Test 2014: Final Thoughts before the test

I am currently receiving a number of enquiries about the Kent Test, mainly concerning the marking system and am happy to supply my latest thoughts here. However, please remember that I do not have a formal connection with KCC so these are my views alone.

The issues are certainly attracting strong media attention. There have already been a couple of radio programmes looking at the subject; I believe that Meridian is planning a news item on Tuesday, on the eve of the test, with the BBC proposing to look at it in the SE Politics show on Sunday. They won't be alone.

You will find the specification of the new test in the Information section to the right of this page, 'Secondary School Admission', 'Kent Grammar Schools'. This information article also includes links to some of the relevant news items about the test.

Apart from the issue of coachability, the main feature of the new tests is the introduction of a literacy element, and I am confident that the marking structure will require a certain standard to be reached in English. We are told that “The English will involve a comprehension exercise plus some additional questions drawn from a set designed to test literacy skills”, but remember it is still a multiple choice assessment.......


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Friday, 28 March 2014 00:00

Sevenoaks Annex: Another path blocked

In a further set-back to the proposal to set up a mixed grammar school annex in Sevenoaks,  Governors of Weald Of Kent Grammar School have decided after consulting parents  “that the case for Weald of Kent to become co-educational at the Tonbridge site has not been established and, therefore, conclude that it is difficult to go ahead with the expansion into Sevenoaks if this is a requirement”. There is a copy of the letter text at the foot of this article. You will find links to my previous articles here.....


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Weald of Kent Grammar School is consulting with parents about taking over the proposed Sevenoaks Grammar School annex and running it as an integral part of the school. I understand that Consultation papers are being sent out to parents this evening, and will expand and update this article when I have seen them.

However, my view is that this is the first feasible proposal to come forward and stands every chance of meeting the legal obstacles raised over the previous proposals by Weald and Invicta Grammar School. I have written several previous articles on the project and its history. 

The proposal is for Weald to become co-educational and then operate the Sevenoaks annex (hopefully renamed) as an integral part of a twin site grammar school, benefitting from the additional excellent facilities planned for the new buildings. It will have a single set of admissions criteria. The school is already planning to change its oversubscription criteria for 2015 admission in line with this proposal.....


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My previous article on this topic attracted over 4000 hits in five days, counting in my regular subscribers, the fastest hit rate ever. Feel free to add another comment at the bottom of either item.  

You will find that item below, here. KCC has now sent out the Consultation document for the proposed closure, which you will find in my blog, together with further comment.

Chaucer Technology

The Chaucer Technology School in Canterbury is to close at the end of the summer term, subject to a legally required consultation process, apart from the current Year 10 students who will need continuity to complete their GCSE courses. I offer advice to affected families on their next steps, in the second highlighted box below. The Council has provided the following statement, explaining the decision and the consequences:.....


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The following is an adaptation of an article appearing in Kent on Sunday this weekend. It is written following the announcement of the closure of Chaucer Technology College in Canterbury subject to Consultation (below), and  also looks at other vulnerable schools, the effect of Free Schools on Kent's maintained school system, and the impact of inward migration in Kent. 

The announcement of the closure of Chaucer Technology School in Canterbury at the end of the summer should have come as no great surprise, given the dramatically falling number of students entering the school over the past few years, and the huge financial deficit allowed to develop. You will find a fuller analysis of the issues here. However, this article looks at the wider pattern of take up of secondary school places across Kent, identifying other schools that are vulnerable. The schools with the highest proportion of vacant places have remained the same over the past few years, leading one to ask how some of these can also remain viable, given that school incomes depend on the number of pupils they attract. Chaucer is the second closure in twelve months, with Walmer Science College being absorbed into Castle Community College last September, because of the falling number of children in the Deal District. I do not anticipate these two schools will be the last.

Concerns have been expressed about the number of young people coming to Kent from other European countries, causing pressure on school places.....


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A link to this article from another website, means that some browsers are unaware I have updated it with a fresh article above, here

There are convincing rumours in Canterbury, backed up by an article in the Kentish Gazette, that Chaucer Technology School is to close at the end of the school year. An official announcement of the situation and plans for the school will be sent to parents on Tuesday (25th), and I will update this article when I see the KCC statement that day. i.e. before school allocations are made on 3rd March. You will find the following statement from Kent County Council on the school website and which was also sent to parents. It is hardly designed to comfort families although it is difficult to know what else the Council can do at short notice, given what appears to be an unplanned and unauthorised leak of information. 

Kent County Council regrets that an article speculating on the closure of Chaucer School has appeared in the press. We recognise that parents, pupils and staff may now be anxious about the school. We will inform staff and write to every parent next week to clarify the situation.

In one sense, this dreadful situation is no surprise for, as readers of this website will know,I have reported on the school's downwards spiral for some years, from its previous standing as being a very popular school. You will find my most recent article here. Even as recently as 2010, the school’s 235 places were all awarded on allocation day, with 163 families making Chaucer their first choice.  A few years previous to that I was handling appeals for admission to the school, which was bi-lateral running a popular grammar stream open only to those who had passed the Kent Test, alongside a non-selective section which was heavily oversubscribed........


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Barton Court Grammar School in Canterbury has now gone out to Consultation on its proposed move to Herne Bay, details here. In previous articles I have discussed the proposal which has now been amended and refined to read as follows: "proposal to relocate the School to the former Herne Bay Golf Club site from September 2017 and to expand to 5 forms of entry. We have been offered an opportunity to build a new school within a proposed housing and sports complex development by Newmaquinn Ltd”. 

Barton Court

The proposal is being challenged by all non-selective schools in the Canterbury district, on the grounds that there is no call for an extra grammar school class in the area, and to fill it would require the school to admit more students on appeal, who were initially non-selective, changing its character.

Unfortunately, both Barton Court's rationale for increasing its size and a letter to the press from the non-selective heads contain too many errors in the statistics they quote, the cases therefore becoming mutually contradictory. As a result, no conclusions can be drawn from the statistics in either of these two documents. The letter to the press has also gone to BCGS, KCC and the two local MPs. 

I have carried out my own analysis of the data, using information from KCC under Freedom of Information requests, and conclude that the BCGS case for expansion is sensible,  but not on the grounds they give......


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judd school

 

IMPORTANT NOTICE: Following the decision of KCC to change the Kent Test to reduce coachability and introduce an English assessment for the 2015 and onwards Kent Test, Judd has decided to stay with KCC. I have left this item on the website, as I consider these plans were a major factor in the decision to change the format of the Kent Test.

 

The Judd School is planning to leave the Kent Test structure and set up its own admission tests in mathematics and English for admission in 2016. You will find the school statement here. This comes as no surprise as the school has made clear for some time that it is disillusioned with the Kent Test and believes its own tests will enable it better to select boys of the highest ability, and those with a stronger background in English. I have looked at the background to this proposal in a previous article

Judd will therefore be the first Kent grammar school not to accept Kent Test results for over ten years, since the grammar schools of North West Kent scrapped their own separate admission procedure. Five other grammar schools: Dover Boys and Girls, Harvey Grammar and Folkestone School for Girls, and Mayfield Grammar in Gravesend now offer success at their own tests for admission, but they have kept the Kent Test as an alternative route. Loss of this prestigious school will be a great blow to Kent County Council, which has introduced its own new test arrangement for 2015 entry in an attempt to keep all schools on board.

This article looks at the reasons behind the move, including the problems with the current Kent Test notably around coaching of the two reasoning papers as confirmed by data on individual subjects. It also considers the consequences and future of the Kent Test, and dips into the influence of the Test data on appeals to other grammar schools..........


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