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News Archive - Kent Independent Education Advice

There is growing evidence that the principle of a single 11+ assessment in both Kent and Medway is under attack as grammar schools come under differing pressures and Academy freedoms allow Governing Bodies to  consider alternatives, as some become increasingly oversubscribed and others suffer from falling rolls in their areas. The issues surrounding the "super-selectives" are well documented. At the other end of the scale, the Dover Grammar schools have for some years run the Dover Tests offering an alternative means of access to their schools, which sees them fill, whereas under the Kent Test they would both be half empty (this doesn't stop Dover Girls Grammar from being one of the highest academic  achieving schools in the county). 

Now Chatham Grammar School for Boys & Chatham Grammar School for Girls have finished a consultation that proposes to offer places to children from 2013 onwards, who have passed either the Kent or the Medway Tests, and in addition for late applicants to be considered on the basis of alternative evidence of grammar school ability. This is in the face of falling numbers entering secondary schools in Medway for some years and for another four or five years to come.  

At the other end of the scale, the 'super-selective' grammar schools in West Kent and Dartford have spawned an intense coaching culture for children that sees their pass marks creep higher and higher. This year in the Kent Test, a record number of 589 children scored the maximum score of 420 (pass mark 360), around half coming from Kent primary schools, a proportion that is constant through all the top scores. I believe the required score for most of these schools will rise even higher this year, and anticipate .......


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Parents of children coming up for 11 plus assessment will not be worried about the reasons why Medway Council has made this decision, but they are important.

Background

Up until six years ago, Medway followed the same process as Kent County Council, with the large majority of applicants sitting the Medway Test in their own primary schools. Medway changed to the large independent centre model for the stated reason that teachers' contracts did not allow 11 plus testing to take place in primary schools. This of course was a nonsense, as there was demonstrably no parallel problem in Kent which continued the practice to this day. The new process might well have been successful for there are positive reasons for such an approach (see below), but Medway has managed to foul up the management of testing at at least one centre nearly every year......


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I am now starting to see the picture relating to Kent & Medway school vacancies. Thanks to those who have provided me with some of the following information; I would be grateful for any information that helps fill out the picture. However, I shan't get the full statistics for Kent schools for another fortnight (FOI). 

It is already clear that with each school choosing its own oversubscription rules many parents are confused about why their child has not got a place at a school of their choice. Unfortunately, more and more schools are choosing rules to suit themselves and there is no longer a system attempting to cater for all. You will find more general information below

This article will be extended as I receive further information, and as I have time to update it. 

Details.......


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Thursday, 01 March 2012 16:00

Kent & Medway Secondary Transfer Day

Latest additions in bold. 

Parents in Kent and Medway will have started receiving the allocated secondary schools for their children from 4 p.m. today (Thursday) if they registered to receive them by email, otherwise everyone should have received their decision by post on Friday. 

Headlines: Much the same as for 2011; main difference is a further rise in pressure on West & North West Kent grammar schools, fuelled by an increase in out county  applicants. Super selective required scores provided below

Congratulations to my first enquirer for a consultation, from Medway 4.15 p.m.!

The main Kent table of outcomes is as follows:....


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In 2009, a senior KCC officer produced a confidential paper for the then Director of Education, forecasting there would be an 8% shortfall in primary reception class places in Tunbridge Wells in 2011. This wasn't actually difficult to foresee, as these children had been born two years previously, and so the issue should have been raised earlier. No action was taken at a time when finance may well have been available to tackle the impending crisis.  

In 2010, there were considerable problems in finding primary school placements in Tunbridge Wells.  I wrote a newspaper article publicly outlining the issues, expanding it later in the year. No action was taken, but KCC explained that there wasn't actually a problem. I am not saying that KCC should have responded to my articles, but they had prior access to the same data I had subsequently unearthed. 

In 2011, the expected forecast shortfall of 8% shortage of places in Tunbridge Wells  proved exactly correct........


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Thursday, 02 February 2012 19:58

Secondary & Primary School Appeal Outcomes 2011

I now have the data for  appeals for those primary and secondary schools in Kent, whose appeals were heard by an Independent Appeal Panel organised by KCC. In previous years I have had the data for all schools at this time, but figures for the 26 secondary schools who organise their own appeals will not be available until later in the year. I do not publish school by school data here, as it varies so much year on year, depending on the pressure on places, the decision of the admission authority (in most cases the school)  as to how hard to resist the appeal and the make up of the panels. However, I do identify below where there are particular trends. 

2011 Secondary Appeal Numbers

Appeals Heard Appeals Upheld % Upheld
Foundation & Voluntary Aided Grammar Schools 542 186 34
Community Grammar Schools 237 101 42
Totla Grammar Schools 779 287 36
Non Selective Schools 186 129 69

Details follow.........


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Thursday, 19 January 2012 17:38

School Exclusion Appeals: Radical Change

I am appalled by proposed changes to School Exclusion Panel procedures, which hand over enormous powers to schools, and especially academies, to get rid of undesirable  children.

Consultation is taking place on these proposals until February 17th. 

A Panel of School Governors will remain to uphold or overturn a headteacher's decision to permanently exclude (expel). Some governing bodies approach this task independently, but many will act to uphold the headteacher's decision as an action of support. Up until now there has been a check - an Independent Appeal Panel (IAP) which includes a serving or recently retired headteacher to ensure the other two members understand the issues. It is proposed to scrap IAPs  and replace them by a Review Panel. For an academy, this can run by the Academy Trust which is hardly independent. 

The powers of the Review Panels are limited to three courses of action: they can....


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Simon Langton Grammar School for Boys is carrying out a consultation (closing date 15th June) into whether it should join the 'super-selective' club of Kent grammar schools. The proposition is that boys who score over 385 in the Kent Test for grammar school admission and who live within 9 miles of the school are given priority. Currently places are allocated to those boys who pass the test (current pass mark 360), who live closest to the school (for 2011 entry this being 5.157 miles).......


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