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Displaying items by tag: Medway Grammar Schools

Saturday, 02 November 2019 09:50

Medway Review 2019 and the Medway Test.

I have now received more data relating to the Medway Test with its pass level of an aggregation of 495 marks across the three tests, following on from my initial article here.

It is clear that the Review process has once again failed Medway children with a total of 0.43% of children having Reviews upheld, against a target of 2.0% of the cohort. As a result, 45 children missed out  of being found of grammar school ability this year because of failure by the Medway process. The rules then state that such children cannot be considered at appeal unless they can show the process to be flawed! Of the 15 successful reviews for Medway children out of 147 submitted, 11 were from girls, over half of these being born in the first quarter of the year. Some might argue that the underlying reason for the very low success rate at Review is poor work produced by Medway primary schools, although it could of course be simply the annual  failure of Review Panels to follow the procedure! 

22.2% of boys and 24.1 % of girls in Year Six of Medway schools passed the Medway Test, meeting the overall target of 23.0%. Whilst this confirms the annual bias in favour of girls as demonstrated below, the gap is slightly lower since the introduction of the CEM selection Test in 2017. The Council has attempted to save money by banning late testing since 2018, which is unlawful as explained here, Year Six children moving into Medway late are therfore denied the opportunity to go to grammar school. 

There were 921 Out of County (OOC) successes in the Medway Test. Nearly half of these came from Kent. Many will be looking for places at Holcombe and Chatham Girls grammar schools as second or lower choices to schools nearer their homes. Last year just 246 OOCs were allocated Medway places out of 844 grammar qualified, many of whom would have subsequently dropped out after gaining more suitable places nearer home. 

Published in News and Comments
Wednesday, 09 October 2019 12:34

Medway Test 2019: Initial results and analysis

Note: This article contains important advice which may assist those considering requesting a Review.

The pass mark for the Medway Test for 2020 admission is an aggregate score of 490, selecting a total of 23% of Medway children, according to target. You will find an information article on Review and Appeal here. Data for individual Medway schools, including oversubscription levels and appeal outcomes are published here.

Whilst 808 Medway pupils passed the test, 35 more than in 2018, the number of out of county children (OOC) passing has continued its inexorable rise to 980. There will be far fewer girls' places available for OOCs at Rochester Grammar as explained below, but an overall surplus for local girls and probably OOCs across the area. By contrast the intense pressure on places for boys in Medway grammar schools is increasing because of the continued machinations of Holcombe Grammar, as explained below, with just one successful appeal out of 53 in 2019 as the school attempts to raise its academic entry profile by chasing higher performing London boys instead of those from Medway. The farce of the Review process will probably continue, with 2018 seeing 0.12% of the Medway cohort or just 4 out of the 202 applications for Review successful, with none from outside Medway or at private schools, against a target of 2%.  Of course this could change for 2019!   

Shockingly, Medway Council introduced a ban on late Testing last year when it was unlawful. Therefore, children moving into the area who miss the admission deadline cannot qualify for a grammar school place. 

Published in News and Comments

Index

All Medway boys and girls who are grammar qualified will have been offered a place at Chatham Girls or Holcombe if they did not get one elsewhere and applied to one of these two. An example of  what I am coming to regard as 'Medway Madness' which affects both the Local Authority and some local schools, the Council has unlawfully deprived late applicants including those moving into Medway of their right to be considered at a grammar school, as explained here. This follows the complete breakdown of the Medway Review process, with just 4 Medway pupils having a Review upheld, out of 159. 

Only one grammar school, Chatham Girls, had vacancies. 242 out of Medway candidates have been offered places out of 1042 in total. This amounts to 23%, or nearly a quarter of all the places offered, and is well up on 2018's 185 offers to children from outside Medway. 

An additional 68 new places have been created, 38 at Chatham Girls and 30 at Fort Pitt, although The Rochester Grammar School took away the 30 extra places it has offered for the past two years, probably for reasons outlined below. 

Rochester Grammar      SJWMS1

The Rochester Grammar School was by a long way the most oversubscribed grammar in Medway, turning away 121 grammar school qualified first choices, as a result of seeing its pass mark to soar to its highest ever, the year before it scraps super selection completely.  It is followed by Sir Joseph Williamson's Mathematical School (The Math) with 70 first choice boys turned away.  

I look in more detail at the outcomes, including the situation for each grammar school individually, below.

Published in News and Comments

Some children of families who are amongst the many re-locating to Medway,  and local children who are late developers, may be denied  grammar school places this year as there is no facility to sit the Medway Test late, contrary to previous practice.  This is because the Council quietly changed its selection procedures last year so that only children who are registered at the correct time can ever sit the Medway Test, which takes place in September.

Medway

Late applicants are therefore effectively barred from being considered for Medway grammar school places which require a Medway Test outcome for admission (the two Chatham grammars have a secondary route via the Kent Test). Most grammar schools have not made arrangements to put an alternative form of testing in place for admission this September, the combination being contrary to Medway's own co-ordinated scheme for secondary admissions.    

 The consequences of this decision by Medway Council are wide ranging and may well spell the end of the Medway Test as an objective standard for grammar school entry in Medway, with each grammar school defining the standard and setting its own test for entry, as explored further below.  The last time I collected data for late sitters of the Medway Test was for admission in September 2017, when there were 80, 53 from within Medway, 27 from outside, including 16 applicants from the London Boroughs, of whom 47 were successful.  

Also, the Council has also been acting unlawfully for years in putting conditions on late admissions to other Medway schools, although these appear to have been withdrawn from 2020/21.

Published in News and Comments
Monday, 08 October 2018 20:09

Medway Test 2018: Initial Information

You will find the parallel article for the Kent test here

You will find a full analysis of Medway Test and Review outcomes here

The pass mark for the Medway Test for 2019 admission is an aggregate score of 492. This is calculated by adding together the score on the Verbal Reasoning Test together with twice the score on each of the mathematics and extended writing tests.

Although this is the lowest figure for some years it is no indication of the difficulty of the test. It is simply related to the proportion of the Year Group which sat the Test. The higher the proportion the lower the pass mark, as a result of what is called Local Standardisation, as explained here. You will find another information article on Review and Appeal here. Data for individual Medway schools including oversubscription levels and appeal outcomes here.

Whilst just 17 more Medway pupils passed the test than in 2017, a total of 773 children, the big news is that the number of out of county children passing the Medway Test has leapt by nearly 50% to 914, which will have considerable consequences for pressure on places. Councillor Andrew Mackness, Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services, said: 'Well done to everyone who sat the Medway Test. It is pleasing to see that more children than ever took the Medway Test highlighting the popularity of our excellent grammar schools'.   Presumably he is not aware of the consequences, as explored below. 

You will find the answer to most questions about whether to apply for a Review in the article on Review and Appeal.....

Published in News and Comments

I have described in previous articles how twelve boys who appealed for places at Holcombe Grammar School in Medway, and were found to be of grammar school ability by the Appeal Panel,were neither awarded places nor allowed on the waiting list as would have happened in Kent. They have today learned that they can now be placed on the school waiting list, after a month of contradictory and confusing information from Medway Council. 

Unfortunately, this does not get them a place at the school even now, but I anticipate that a few spaces are still likely to arise over the summer holiday, to be awarded to those living nearest, and so likely to be from these twelve.

The information comes in a letter from the school, which throws a new light on the whole situation. This shows that responsibility for the foul up lies squarely with Medway Council which was blocking this decision, even as late as yesterday.

Published in News and Comments
Wednesday, 18 July 2018 15:16

Holcombe Grammar Appeals Still Unresolved

Update Friday: Holcombe Grammar School has written to the 12 families whose sons were denied places on the waiting list by Medway Council, and invited them to join the list. This is explained in a further article published today (Friday 20th July).    

Over a month on from the Holcombe Grammar school appeals, and two days from the end of the school year, distressed families whose sons were found of selective ability by the Holcombe Appeal Panel are still waiting to learn if they are to be placed on the waiting list. This follows eight months of worry leading up to the appeal process. I have worked with many families in the past waiting and planning for school admission appeals, and know the enormous stress this places on them, as they believe their child's future depends on their performance at appeal. This extra and unnecessary dragging out of the decision, with the mistakes, misinformation  and  confusion that surround it, can only pile the pressure on.  

The mystery of why and how Holcombe Grammar misrepresented Medway Test scores in its case to the Appeal Panel is no clearer in spite of an FOI by me asking these two questions, and an Internal Review into the process whose outcome also fails to answer the questions, itself offering a response that is clearly untrue. Along the line the school has put in writing repeated demonstrable falsehoods, as explained below, most of which it has not even acknowledged. I now have copies of the appeal notes of a number of the appeal cases that confirm the parental version of events, proving the school’s versions in its role as Admission Authority are false. 

I look at two of the central issues below, events up to this point having been explored in two previous articles, most recently here

Published in Peter's Blog
Wednesday, 11 October 2017 19:36

Medway Test Results 2017

Medway Review Results for entry in September 2018 here

I am rarely caught out completely by admission matters, but events at the two Chatham grammar schools for entry in September 2017 completely amazed me. These are compounded by the Medway Test results this year, when the built in bias towards girls’ success has completely vanished, as explained below.

The Medway Test outcomes, in summary, have seen 23% of the Medway cohort this year found suitable for grammar school before Reviews take place, which is exactly on target as in 2016. However, the annual gender differential stretching back for years, which saw 25% of girls passing the test as against 21% of boys in 2016, has disappeared, with 23% of both boys and girls passing for admission in 2018. The pass mark was an aggregate 495 across the three papers, well down on last year's 521, although the standard is the same. The discrepancy will have risen because of a larger number of lower performing children  taking the test than in 2016. 

Both Chatham grammar schools have been suffering from a shortage of pupils in recent years: in 2015, Chatham Girls admitted just 93 pupils with a planned admission number of 142; and Holcombe Grammar (previously Chatham Boys) 106, PAN 120. This September (2017)Chatham Girls has admitted over 180 pupils, Holcombe over 150.

The main reason for this dramatic surge in numbers is the influx of London children who, uniquely in Medway are grammar qualified for the two Chatham’s by virtue of success in the Kent Test. For September 2018 entry, there were 659 out of county passes, including 263 from London Boroughs (the largest number as always were the 381 from Kent).

So, what do these remarkable outcomes offer for 2018 entry? Some thoughts below, together with further analysis of Medway Test results. You will find further information on the Review process and its implications for appeals, here, which will answer most queries.

Published in News and Comments

Update Two - 3 August: In talks to parents, the Student Services Manager at Medway Council has told families that there is no need to prepare specially for the changed Verbal Reasoning Test (now CEM),as it is covered in the normal English KS2 curriculum. He has also confirmed the sole reason for the change is that it has saved money (never mind the content policy change!). Medway Council has now produced an article explaining the use of the Familiarisation Booklet, which I have commented on at the foot of this article. I also include a link to the Booklet which has not been published, 

Update: The value of the following item is underlined by the interest shown by browsers. 1500 hits in the first two days makes this the second most popular item on the website this year - in third place is the article Medway Test Scores Blunder - Medway fails families yet againconfirming once again the lack of confidence Medway families have in their Council's education operation. 

The Council sent a letter to schools last week announcing that it is changing its Test provider from GL Assessment to CEM (Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring) for the forthcoming Medway Test in September. Unfortunately, the two testing providers have different interpretations of the assessment procedure, as explained here. The CEM Verbal Reasoning Test is far more language based than the GL model (which is used by Kent), including vocabulary and normally comprehension, as can be seen by a glance at the above link together with model answers provided by commercial companies. It will account for 20% of the aggregate Test marks which, together with the 40% for the Free Writing Test, will make this a highly language based selection method. It will therefore discriminate against children from socially deprived areas who are often weaker in language skills, children with English as a second Language, boys, and those who don't hear of or appreciate the change being made. The Council’s letter to schools gives no rationale for this change of approach or warning of the effects of the change, so presumably it is not for educational reasons, but simply a cost cutting exercise. 

Neither does it do anything whatever to address the other serious problems I have previously identified in the Medway Test process, missing a golden opportunity in its recent review of the procedure, which appears to have reached no conclusions. It also comes close on after last year's debacle of the 2016 Test.   

In addition, the Council has suddenly dispensed with the services of its highly experienced Free Writing Test setter, and at the time of writing does not appear to have re-employed any of its trained markers, although there is no change in the processes. It is not yet clear who is going to provide these essential skills this year.

Published in News and Comments

See article in Kent on Sunday: 1st April 2017 

This article looks at the final outcomes of the Medway Test and its effect on individual grammar school allocations in March.

Last year I wrote an article exposing the failure by Medway Council to set the Medway Test pass mark correctly in 2015, and for some years previously, revealing the fact that some 70 Medway children were deprived of grammar school places by a miscalculation. This produced a success rate after Reviews were taken into account of just 23% for Medway children. Perhaps it was article that produced a change in practice and this year the success rate has risen to 25.1%, almost exactly the target level. However, just 25 Medway pupils were found selective after Review, as against a target of 68. There is yet again serious bias towards girls and older children.

The increase in the success rate has produced an extra 125 pupils eligible for grammar school (an increase in pupil numbers contributing to this) placing enormous pressure on the capacity of all Medway grammar schools, so that there are just 6 vacancies in just one school, in spite of an extra 70 grammar places being added.  

The headline figure for all secondary allocations, including non-selective schools, shows a seriously worsening picture, with a fall of over 5% in the proportion of Medway children being offered their first choice of school, and a near doubling of the number getting none of their choices from 77 to 145 children. According to Cabinet Member Martin Potter in a press release, “This is great news”! See my previous article for initial figures.

Most oversubscribed school is Rochester Grammar, turning away 87 grammar qualified first preferences even after expanding its intake by 25 girls. The pressure for grammar school places from children living in London Boroughs, with 64 being offered, continues as explained below. I also look more closely at individual grammar schools and the Medway Test analysis.

Published in News and Comments
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