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. .....
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......
The main secondary school appeals are now ended, although places are still being freed up, mainly in non-selective schools through movement in waiting lists. This article is an overview of the latest situation across Kent and Medway, although I am happy to be corrected on details or to add in additional items. In particular, information on non-selective school situations would be helpful.
For grammar schools, the main pressure area has been West & North West Kent for boys, with Tunbridge Wells Grammar school for Boys having 89 appeals, and Wilmington Grammar School for Boys having around 70. As a result Kent County Council came under considerable pressure from families whose sons had passed the 11+, but had no grammar school place. In the event, nearly all of these boys have been offered places off waiting lists or at appeals, with TWGSB taking 32 at appeal, Wilmington over 30, Gravesend Grammar taking in nearly all who had passed without the need to go to appeal.
Oakwood Park in Maidstone has also taken up a number of these and, after appeals, now has 164 places allocated, leaving its additional form of entry only part filled. As a result, this OFSTED ‘Outstanding school’ is surprisingly still welcoming applications from anyone who has passed and should be able to offer the vacant places without appeal. I believe that otherwise all these schools are now full, along with Skinners, Judd, Dartford Grammar Boys and Maidstone Grammar. Interestingly, admission authorities can accept a second appeal .......“because of a significant and material change in the circumstances of the parent or child”. For example, if your child comes up with two Level 5s in the recent SATs it may be worthwhile asking a grammar school with vacancies if it will consider a second appeal (it has an absolute right to say no). .........
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|
last updated August 2016
Each Year I receive a number of enquiries about oversubscription appeals following the normal application process for primary and secondary schools.These are where the school (it may be non-selective or grammar) is full. I advise some parents to put in a holding appeal (simply writing "I am appealing for a place for my child (name) at (name) school. A more detailed letter will follow" on the form, which means you do not need to submit full details by deadline day). You can then leave submitting a detailed letter until after the first round of reallocations takes place. I am happy to delay taking on clients until that time, when you will know whether an appeal will be necessary. Also the pressure on myself is less at these peak times, and so I am able to respond more quickly. Please feel free to contact me if you wish clarification on this.
You will find data on 2016 appeals here.
To make an appeal for a Kent school you should download an appeal form here.
- You will find the most recent appeal statistics for both Kent and Medway via the appropriate link.
- There is a new Code of Practice for School Appeals, issued by government, which took effect in 2012. Some key issues are set out at Code.
- If your child is not allocated their first preference school in March, you may be able to secure a place at a school higher in your list through appeal or via the waiting list and you can follow both processes at the same time.
- First piece of advice is – don’t panic. You will not get an earlier appeal or a better hearing by sending in your case early. If you are not ready, make sure you record your appeal by the closing date, using such words as “I am appealing for….... I will send in my detailed case when it is ready”. This enables you to take advice or plan your appeal without additional pressure (it is already stressful enough!). If yours is one of the few academies that organises early appeals, you can still send in your case when you are notified of the date, without penalty. Appeal dates for each school are published on the school website by February 28th (secondary).
- Appeals are always possible for non selective schools when the number of pupils applying for a school is larger than the approved number of admissions.
- Kent admission rules allow parents to apply to any school not on their original list after the first Allocation of vacant spaces in April using the In Year Admission process. Use this to the full, as at the least you are placed on a waiting list and then have rights of appeal. Some children who did not originally apply for a school and who now apply after first Allocation will be offered places ahead of others on the waiting list. The situation in Medway is more confused and confusing.
- You will be asked to submit a case and appear personally at the Panel hearing. The best grounds for appeal are where families can show that the admission of another pupil will not damage the education of those already admitted, where another child has been wrongly selected ahead of their own, or that the admission policy has been interpreted wrongly. Some Foundation & VA schools are keen to admit additional pupils, and in such cases the appeal is much easier, if you have a reasonable case, or your child appears to ‘fit’ the school ethos. you will find information on this in my Individual School pages for Kent and Medway.
- Each oversubscribed school has its own character and approach to appeals for additional pupils.
- Grammar school oversubscription appeals can be very complex, as appellants may have children who have passed the eleven plus, others will not have, and the appeal panel has to balance competing claims.
- I can advise on the expected appeal pattern for each school, and the best strategy to achieve success.
- Remember, at the end of the day, if the school is genuinely full there may be no way to secure admission.
Kent County Council operates what a called Group Appeals for many of its Appeal hearings, where schools are oversubscribed. Schools where this process is being used include Maidstone Grammar School for Girls, Tunbridge Wells Grammar School for Boys and Simon Langton Grammar School for Girls. The Admission Code for School Appeals recommends that where a school is oversubscribed, appeals should be divided into two stages. Where this happens, the first part is called the group stage, where all parents appealing are invited to a meeting at the start of proceedings. At this meeting, all the issues relating to oversubscription are debated between parents and the Admission Authority Presenting Officer in front of the Appeal Panel. No matters relating to individuals are considered. This enables the Appeal Panel to determine before hearing individual appeals how many children, if any, can be admitted before prejudice applies (see section on appeals). The second stage is the individual appeal where each parent puts the case for their individual child. In the second stage there is no discussion of oversubscription issues. The Panel then has to decide which children should be offered places, possibly accepting that for some, there will be prejudice, but their individual circumstances outweigh this. I have some experience of the system, as Medway Council has used it for many years with, in my view, mixed success. Many parents are inhibited at the Group meeting and find it difficult to put forward their points. At some meetings the meeting rapidly degenerated into an unpleasant verbal battle (I don't see this happening at the Kent appeals); at others very few parents turned up,few views were expressed and the meeting fizzled out (more likely). My advice is go to the meeting, at the very least you will see the Appeal Panel members in advance. Don't be afraid to speak out if you believe the school is capable of admitting extra children although this can be come quite a technical argument and school cases for not admitting additional children can be quite intimidating. You won't affect your individual chances by making the case that more children in general can be admitted. In Medway where Appeal Panel members were used to the process, they engaged in quite vigorous and challenging questioning of the Admission Authority. One would expect that KCC panellists will have been trained to carry out similar rigorous questioning. However, where there is no Group Appeal, questioning on prejudice is required to take place in every appeal and can be quite perfunctory and formulaic, so there does need to be a change of approach. One of the strongest arguments year on year comes from looking at the numbers in older year groups. If the school can manage these, then why shouldn't it manage the same number again.
Last updated September 2016
I have retired from my full personal appeals advisory service, but currently run a Telephone Advice Service, which in the autumn term enables me to advise parents about their choices on the secondary admission form, including those whose children have not passed the Kent or Medway tests, and submitting appeals in March. I also support In-Year appeals and admission with advice throughout the year.
As well as this section, I recommend that you read my general information page on school appeals . You will be able to download a Kent Appeal form here, although this is also provided with your decision letter in March.
Kent and Medway grammar school testing takes place in September. Many Kent children who have not initially passed the Kent Test are given a second chance through the Kent Headteacher assessment (HTA) process in October (although this is by headteacher recommendation and parents are not made aware of whether their children are included). It is not always advantageous to have gone down this route for, if unsuccessful, the Report of the HTA is presented to any appeal panel, and can prove counterproductive. Medway parents are offered a Review of any non selective decision in November, but are advised to read the Review section of this website before doing so. You will find a fuller explanation of the two processes through the links. These stages take place before the selective decision is confirmed.
In any case, parents need to be aware that if their child is unsuccessful in the test, or in HTA or Medway Review, there is no right to appeal until after school allocation, 1st March (for 2016 entry). You cannot appeal against a non selective decision in general and your right to appeal is to a particular school which has not offered your child a place. Whilst appeals usually begin in April/May, some may not be heard until late June.
Many grammar schools admit all applicants who have achieved the selective standard, or those living nearest where there is oversubscription; but others select the highest scorers in the assessment tests (locally known as ‘super-selectives’).
There are three main situations with regard to grammar school appeals:
1) The child has not passed the eleven plus and there are spaces available
2) The child has passed the eleven plus and the school is full;
3) The child has not passed the eleven plus and the school is full.
First piece of advice is – don’t panic. You will not get an earlier appeal or a better hearing by sending in your case early. If you are not ready, make sure you record your appeal by the closing date, using such words as “I am appealing for….... I will send in my detailed case when it is ready”. This enables you to take advice or plan your appeal without additional pressure (it is already stressful enough!), but make sure from the school website you know when the appeals are being heard and ensure your further information is submitted in good time. If yours is one of the few academies that organises early appeals, such as Highsted and Borden grammar schools, it is essential to get the appeal lodged early, for although there is no statutory time limit for appealing, lodging a late appeal may find the school full after others have been heard.
There is a basic division between grammar schools run by the county (community schools and voluntary controlled) and the academies, foundation and voluntary aided schools that form the majority. County run grammar schools use KCC's own Appeals service run independently of the education department. The other schools and academies each have their own approach to appeals: some using a county independent appeal panel; others engaging an independent panel administrator to run appeals for them; the remainder (a small minority) choosing their own appeal clerk and panel members. Some wish to admit additional pupils, others resist strongly. These produce a wide range of success rates, both from county to county and for individual schools within counties. I advise you, in the case of academies, foundation or VA schools who use an administrator or provide their own Independent Appeal Panel, to contact the school which may be willing to offer the school perspective. Some grammar schools are regularly oversubscribed with successful candidates, particularly in West Kent. If you are deprived of a place on this basis, you still have the right to appeal.
Parents can only appeal to a school they have named on the application form, so choice of schools remains critical. However, in Kent if you choose not to apply for a particular grammar school, you still have the right to apply using the In Year Admission Process after the closing date for acceptance of offers (usually late March) and if turned down because your child has not taken the test (in which case they will be asked to sit it), or has not passed the test, or the school is full, you can appeal. However, this route carries additional risk if the school is likely to be full after the normal round of appeals.
I am often asked what scores are likely to be successful in a grammar school appeal. This is an impossible question to answer for Appeal Panels will wish to take other factors into account. These may include: what special circumstances do you have that will convince a panel there has been a miscarriage (there is no point in producing peripheral issues); what alternative evidence do you have to demonstrate that your child is of grammar school ability; is the school oversubscribed or does it need additional pupils; was there a HTA; is the school 'superselective'; is it in East Kent or West Kent; what support is forthcoming from the primary school; does your child have Special Education Needs? Or even, what is the make up of the Panel members (not known until a week or so before the appeal)? You are most unlikely to achieve success at any Kent appeal if no score is above the 106 of 2015 entry. You are most unlikely to achieve success in West Kent without scores close to the cut off point.
Possible relevant factors that parents may put forward include: (1) the selection panel was missing information which can lead to a different decision – e.g. medical condition or family circumstances not reported which affected the child's performance, but can be demonstrated; (2) independent proof that your child is of grammar school ability (3) information provided was incorrect – you have the right to see all relevant documentation. I am happy to advise clients of other possibilities when I have discussed individual cases. You may also succeed if none of these apply but marks are near the cut off and you find a sympathetic appeal panel. If none of the above applies, your chances are low; so plan an alternative route for your child’s secondary education – although each year I am delighted by successful appeals which originally looked unpromising.
Kent Grammar Schools
At all Kent grammar school appeals against a non-selective decision, the Kent test scores and any HTA report will be distributed to the Panel and parents. This also has the effect of eliminating false parental claims about the results. Some parents have not seen the HTA document before, so make sure you ask to see it before writing your appeal, as this is likely to have an influence on your case.
The Panel will also be told the school to which you were allocated on 1st March. This presents a problem for some parents of children who have passed the Kent Test making multiple applications to grammar schools. Where the school is non-super selective, if you are awarded a grammar school lower on your list, the Panel may decide that because the school is oversubscribed your needs have already been met by the lower school, and give preference to those without a grammar school. In at least one area, where the panel tends to be drawn from a small group of panellists, they see appeals from parents who have put down only one grammar school to benefit form this policy. However, the panel has become wise and will not look on these as a priority, sometimes leaving the child without a grammar school. Life can become difficult!
Probably the most important lesson I have learned in my thirteen years of extensive work across Kent and Medway is that not only admission patterns vary across both Authorities, but that appeal practice, best strategies and likely outcomes are equally variable. My tracking of appeals over the years means I have a wide experience of different scenarios and panellists, although even I am sometimes surprised by decision making, hence my extensive experience of successful complaints through the Local Government Ombudsman and latterly the Education Funding Agency for academies.
I have now retired from my full personal appeals service, which as you might expect in Kent and Medway, has seen the majority of my work in supporting parents with appeals for grammar schools, using my unrivalled knowledge of the local situation and my expertise and lengthy experience in Appeal work. I have achieved multiple success for places at every grammar school in the County, although the level of difficulty varies, and I am happy to advise clients of this. Make no mistake, a school appeal is time consuming and stressful, but am designing my Telephone Consultation service to minimise this. Further details in the New Year. .
I will still offer local knowledge and experience that is unique in Kent and Medway. If looking at personal service consultants, beware those that use a template - appeal panelists know a third party is behind the appeal, will be prejudiced against these, and in any event, cases are individual and cannot be packaged! There are also too many horror stories about consultants without local knowledge getting it spectacularly wrong.
As with all pages on this website, this page is packed with free information to support parents. However, getting on for 1000 clients will testify that my professional service does make the difference!
If you wish to contact me regarding a Kent grammar school appeal, please first speak to your child's primary school to obtain their scores in the Kent test. Feel free to email me with a brief outline of your situation (including test marks) and a contact phone number, and I will get back to you as soon as possible. In the Autumn term, you may wish to use my very popular Telephone Consultation Service I any case, I will confirm whether or not I feel it is worthwhile going ahead with an appeal, and my fees if you wish to engage my services.
If you decide to go ahead, then I can advise on the expected appeal pattern for each school, and the best strategy to achieve success, together with exploring all suitable alternatives in the state system. I will ensure I have all relevant information and advise you appropriately. Then a few days before the appeal, when you are in receipt of all relevant information from the school or Local Authority, I will go through with you all relevant factors on the telephone or Facetime, taking as much time as is necessary to ensure you are as well prepared as possible.
I do not normally attend appeal hearings, as Panels are more interested in talking directly with parents.
There are number of websites and books offering advice on how to succeed at appeal. Most of these offer general advice, not tailored to specific schools or local authorities, and so are of limited value. There is no substitute for local knowledge, which is why I confine my operation to Kent & Medway.
A good website for general information on admissions and appeals is: eleven plus exams. However, you need to treat the contributions with caution. It is Buckinghamshire based but whilst the school appeal advice varies considerably from the many varieties in Kent, it can be very helpful. There is also a lot of forum discussion about West Kent issues, often very different from those in the rest of the county. You will find occasional contributions from me under the name of Peter, but I have removed some contributions as I don't wish to be associated with those unedited comments on the forum which are mischievous. References to this website are removed by the volunteer monitors who work for a very commercial operation, on the basis that www.kentadvice.co.uk is itself commercial. Just count how few of the 610 pages of information, news and comment are selling my limited services, or refer to them!
Reminder; I only take on clients resident in Kent and Medway Local Authority areas for state schools in those local authorities, as my work is heavily centred on local knowledge of how our schools and appeal systems work. My furthest enquiry this year is from a family living in Malta, wishing to appeal to a grammar school in Birmingham!
I am continuing to offer my Telephone (or FaceTime) Consultation Service to families living in the Local Authority areas of Kent and Medway, relating to Kent and Medway schools as explained below. I also extend this service to the many expatriate families moving back to Kent, and others moving into the area, although not to speculative out of county families seeking Kent grammar schools. I am afraid I have retired from offering the full appeals service which has operated for the past twelve years.
You may wish to first visit the Education website or telephone the Department for factual advice, as below.
Kent County Council: Education Website, here. School Admissions (and other education departments), telephone: 03000 41 21 21.
Medway Council: Education Website here. Telephone: 01634 306 000.
Enquirers find the Kent County Council Schools website and Admissions Department especially helpful. Many parents find that Medway Council is not helpful, nor correct in its advice, which can vary from family to family.
Both departments should be able to provide you with any factual information you need to assist you to make a decision, but are not allowed to offer you opinion, nor compare different options.
If your child is currently at school, you should also talk to their headteacher, who is likely to have a good knowledge of local schools and more importantly, should know your child.
Can I help you.
I can only help you if:
- You live in Kent or Medway Local Authority Areas and your enquiry is about school matters in these areas. The exception is for families seeking to move into Kent or Medway, who want to find out about local schools in the area they are considering, often moving from abroad.
- You provide me with as much relevant information as possible to enable me to see if I can help.
What I offer
I have retired from my full personal appeals advice service, but am able to offer a range of advice on many aspects of education. This is based on a life-time in education, and twelve years of working with parents offering advice, based on my extensive knowledge of local matters, backed up by a unique and wide database of information, much of which is reproduced in this website in the information pages, indexed on the right hand side of this page. .
Areas of expertise include: advice on primary and secondary school admissions and appeals; looking for schools for those wishing to move here from elsewhere in the UK, and expatriates. Some aspects of Special Education. For other educational matters covered in these pages, let me know what you seeking and I can advise if I am able to assist.
Secondary and Primary School Appeals
I am afraid I am now only able to offer support for appeals through a Telephone Advisory Consultation before you begin the appeal process.