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Friday, 22 September 2017 19:42

Appeal Outcomes in Kent, Kent Panel Results

This article looks at school admission appeals in Kent and Medway heard by Appeal Panels organised by the two Local Authorities. I will publish another article later when I have outcomes of appeals set up by schools themselves, either using a commercial or professional organisation, or else organised by the school. 

The success rate for grammar appeals has risen from 32% in 2016, to 37%. This was helped by sharp rises at several schools, led by the Invicta Grammar with a success rate up from 60% to an astonishing 89% for the 65 girls appealing,  and Simon Langton Grammar Girls, rates so high they can only bring the system into disrepute.

At the other end of the scale, the four Dartford grammar schools were the only ones with a success rate of less than 10%, indeed the only schools below 25%, headed up by Dartford Girls Grammar, with NO successful appeals out of 93 heard.

For non-selective schools, the success rate fell from 32% to 23%. Trinity, Sevenoaks, saw all five appeals succeed with St Anselm’s Catholic 79% of the 11 appeals heard. Both St Simon Stock Catholic (30 heard) and George’s CofE, Gravesend (6) turned down all appeals.

For primary schools, just one success each in Kent and Medway schools where Infant Class Legislation applies.

Further details below, along with a report of the untimely death of  Frank Pinnington, one of the best Appeal Administrators in the business. 

Most Kent secondary schools are Academies, Foundation or Voluntary Aided schools, with the right to choose their Appeal Panel provider. For the past few years the secondary school split has been roughly equal between Panels provided by KCC and other providers. It takes me more time to collect the second group, including all the Medway secondaries, which will be covered in a second article later. I am currently updating the information I provide on individual secondary schools in Kent and Medway for, because of pressure on time, several pages are out of date. You will find historical appeal data on these pages and I am happy to update appeal data if requested and available. The article on all appeal outcomes in 2016 is here. There is little purpose in providing details of primary appeals for individual schools. 

Kent & Medway Panel School Appeals 2017
  Number of Schools Heard  Upheld 
Not
Upheld
%
Upheld 
  Kent
Grammar Schools  17  953  350  603  37%
Non-Selective  18  357  83  274  23%
Infant/Primary Breach  173  196  1  195  1%
Infant'Primary (other)  16  30  10  20  33%
Junior  6  8  5  3  63%
     Medway
 Infant/Primary  9  31  1  30  3%
 Junior  1  1  0  1  0
 
Grammar School Appeals
 Over half of Kent's grammar schools still use a KCC Appeal Panel, details in the Kent Individual Secondary Schools section.  
The pressure from London families for places in the four Dartford grammar schools can be seen in the levels of first choice oversubscription described here, which gives rise to the very high proportion of appeals. 
NW Kent Grammar Appeals
 School
 Heard
Upheld
Not
Upheld 
 %
Dartford 116 3  113  3%
Dartford Girls  93 93 0% 
Wilmington Boys  86 6 80 7% 
Wilmington Girls 122 10 112  8%
Total Dartford 407 19 398 5%

In 2016, there were 29 appeals upheld out of 384 at the four schools, this year's increase in numbers and decrease in successes reflecting  the building pressure year on year from children living in London Boroughs. Have some sympathy for the Appeal Panel at Dartford Girls, with the school making a very strong case for admitting none of the 93 appellants, and the Panel sitting through eight consecutive weekdays without finding a single case strong enough to overcome the defence. There should of course be considerably more sympathy for the families who will have spent many stressful hours putting together a case that they thought would convince the Panel, every one without success. 

At the other end of the scale, the easiest schools at which to win appeals were four girls’ grammars.  

Highest % Grammar Appeals (all Girls') 2017
School
Appeals Upheld
Not
Upheld 
2016
%
 Invicta 65 58 7 89% 60% 
Simon Langton
Girls
44  36  82% 66% 
 Maidstone
Girls
76  53  23  70% 73% 
Highworth 53   36 17  68% 46%

The above figures are quite astonishing, in particular for the top two grammars in this list, Invicta and Simon Langton Girls’ whose Panels both put through more than twice as many girls as the county average of 37%.

At Simon Langton Girls, I have the Kent Test scores of individual successful appellants (please note I do not have these for any other school) one with a score of 278 and no score of 100 or more (100 being the score of an average child, and a minimum of 106 expected in all three subjects); another seven with two scores of less than 100. Seven took a test set by the school, which is not in the formal procedures. I cannot think of another grammar school in Kent that would admit numbers of children with scores as low as this; such successes requiring very exceptional circumstances. 

 

Quite simply it is not credible that such high numbers and proportions of girls could genuinely have been found of grammar school ability by Independent Panels  acting objectively.
The Kent selection system of test and Headteacher Assessment had already identified 25% of girls in Maidstone and Canterbury, exactly the county target figure, as of grammar school ability so such swollen success rates can only bring the appeal system into disrepute. 

For the 2016 appeals, just one other grammar school had a higher pass percentage than Invicta and SLGGS, which, combined with the further sharp increase this year, further undermines  any confidence in Panel objectivity and credibility. I am in no doubt they will have been encouraged by the schools to offer to such large numbers for whatever reason.  

In the case of MGGS and SLGGS, one reason for encouraging such large numbers is clear – low take up of places for September through the admission process, with both schools having nearly a quarter of their places unfilled. Who knows with Invicta which, through admitting high numbers of girls on appeal, created the largest grammar school intake in the county over the previous three years, this year promising to be even higher than 2016’s record of 244 girls (helped by 39 successful appeals, and an intake of 18 girls over the Planned Admission number). Sadly, as reported elsewhere, the school also manages to see the largest drop out rate in the county by the end of Year 12, many forced to leave early in order for the school to achieve good A Level and GCSE results.

However, I have no doubt that parents of girls benefitting from this Panel generosity will be delighted and think I am being churlish! Local non-selective schools losing their brightest pupils will be less enthusiastic. At the October 2016 census, an astonishing 40% of Year Seven pupils in Maidstone District schools attended local grammar schools, compared to a county average of 29%. 

Non-Selective School Appeals

Three quarters of all the 25 non-selective schools (NS) holding appeals this year used KCC Panels.  In spite of increased numbers securing grammar school places on appeal, together with a number of popular schools expanding to meet demand the number of appeals has increased by nearly a third as families chase places in the most sought after schools. Partly as a result of this polarisation, the success rate has dropped sharply from 42% to 23%. 45 potential appellants were offered places which became vacant before appeals were heard, and 93 withdrew from their appeals for whatever reason.

Apart from the headline schools (above), Wrotham School, 60%, was the only one with more than 38% success rate.

The schools with most appeals were St George’s Foundation (64 appeals, 17% success rate) and King Ethelbert’s (40, 10%) both in Thanet, reflecting the pressure on places and the desire to avoid certain schools in the District, along with Valley Park, Maidstone (47,13%). Unsurprisingly, these are the three most oversubscribed NS schools in Kent, and success at appeal will require a very strong case, often with special circumstances, to satisfy the Panel.

The two other schools with low success rates are Brockhill Park (14 appeals, one upheld), and Wye Free School (18 appeals, 2 upheld).

Primary School Appeals
This year’s data underlines the difficulty of winning a Primary School Appeal where Infant Class Legislation applies. Across Kent, there was just one successful appeal out of 196 appeals, in Medway one out of 31. You will find an explanation of the reasons for this here. A few other schools, together with Junior Schools are not subject to this constraint and, with the low numbers involved, success is much more likely if you have a good case.
 
Frank Pinnington, RIP
I first knew Frank as a highly capable and popular Deputy Head at Pent Valley School in Folkestone, part of a brilliant Leadership team at the height of the school's success and popularity some 20 years ago, when it was outstandingly the non-selective school of choice in Shepway. After retirement, he developed a niche as Appeal Panel Administrator and Clerk at a number of East Kent secondary and primary schools. I had regular and consistent reports back from clients that he and his team were above all fair and professional, took care to ensure that all parental points were thoroughly explored, and extremely courteous, but unafraid to explore contentious issues. I knew Frank outside the appeal room, and was so impressed with his complete integrity and determination that the appeal process should be conducted fairly on both sides. I heard the regular refrain that whilst parents hoped they would win their appeal, they were content to abide by the decision as 'it had been fair'.

One recent sad development he shared with me was at Chatham and Clarendon Grammar School where he had provided an excellent service for around twelve years, and to my certain knowledge had been much valued by both school and appellants. His experienced and highly professional team of panellists lost the contract to provide an appeal service for the school, because they would not uphold enough appeals to satisfy the school’s financial requirements, insisting on judging each appeal on its academic merits. This year the number of successes at C&C has increased by over half to 66%, putting the above article into context.

A good and honourable man. May he Rest in Peace.

 

Last modified on Saturday, 18 November 2017 07:05

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