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!