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Thursday, 13 June 2013 00:00

Chatham Grammar Schools and the Kent Test

The introduction of the Kent Test by the two Chatham grammar schools as an alternative assessment to the Medway Test has caused considerable confusion to Medway Council. Success in the Kent Test is now a recognised qualification for entry to the two schools, so children who have taken the Kent test but not passed have the right to put in a late application to the appropriate Chatham grammar school. They would then be turned down on grounds of non-qualification and can then appeal directly to the school. As there are still spaces at both schools, if parents can provide appropriate evidence that their children are of grammar school standard, they stand a good chance of winning an appeal and therefore a place.

However, Medway Council officials have failed to understand the rules......

 

and have been telling parents their children are required to sit the Medway Test as a condition of being considered for a place at the schools. I have had several enquiries about this misinformation being given out. Quite simply it is not true and there is no requirement to sit the Medway Test for such late entrants, and no need to put them through a late test without preparation at such short notice.  One family was told their child should take the test the following Monday! I wrote to the Council as soon as I learned what was happening, to try and find out if the misinformation being provided was just a mistake or whether it was deliberate policy, but have had no response.  However, I understand that since my letter some parents have been told, but only if they queried the requirement, that it was merely a policy to help the children by providing them with an additional opportunity to qualify for admission.

Unfortunately, Kent County Council were not aware of the new situation and were giving similar advice, but have since changed this after I alerted them to the problem.

If parents are confused by the misleading information emanating from Medway Council, they should contact either Chatham Grammar School for Boys or Chatham Grammar School for Girls who will confirm the above and advise them of the next steps. I repeat, this route to an appeal only applies if the child has taken the Kent Test but not passed it and has not previously applied to a Chatham Grammar School.  If they had put in an application, then they have right of appeal anyway.

Sadly, this is not the first time that Medway Council have been seen to be blocking late applications to its own Chatham grammar schools. In 2009, I exposed another similar but more extensive scandal which was picked up by the national media and Medway was forced to change its policy. The Council claimed at the time there was no such blocking operation in place but I was able to demonstrate that it was spelled out in Medway Council’s own documentation. My original article on the predecessor to this website has been lost, but you can still read a newspaper article I wrote at the time.

Of course, the Chatham grammar schools attempted to introduce their own alternative tests for entry in September 2013, but were overruled by the Schools Adjudicator.  I am reliably informed that they followed Medway Council advice in attempting to introduce the new system but this proved faulty, a major factor in the new process failing.

These problems in grammar schools have arisen because of the dramatic fall in number of children in Medway, which is only just being reversed at infant level. As well as the vacancies in the two Chatham grammar schools, Rochester Grammar School, which recruits high scorers, has now made offers to all girls with the basic pass of 509 in the Medway Tests. Sir Joseph Williamson’s Mathematical School has seen a dramatic fall in popularity with no oversubscription at the time of the appeals, the school confirming they had room for another 18 children even though there were just 15 appeals. Fort Pitt Grammar School was not full for the first time in several years on allocation on 1st March, although it has reduced its intake from 180 to 120 in recent years. The only Medway grammar school to maintain its popularity is the mixed Rainham Mark, that actually managed to expand from 175 students to 205 this year.

Last modified on Sunday, 16 March 2014 17:21

1 comment

  • Comment Link Saturday, 15 June 2013 12:41 posted by Marlene

    Thank you, Peter for the valuable advice you always provide. Keep up the good work
    Thanks

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