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Displaying items by tag: kent

Monday, 04 October 2010 00:00

Secondary School Appeals

Last updated: April 2020. You will find a page on the effects on school appeals of the Coronavirus here.

You will find further information, comment and advice in the page relating to specific types of appeal: Kent grammar schools; Medway grammar school review and appeal; oversubscription appeals; and primary school appeals. A look at key points of the School Admissions Appeals Code also contains further advice and information.  

You will find data for 2019 Appeals in Kent and Medway entry here and more information about individual Kent schools here

I am afraid I have completely retired from offering individual appeals advice. 

All school appeals are required to follow the mandatory School Admissions Appeals Code.

Parents have the right to appeal against any decision not to offer a school place, and that decision must be in writing and contain information on how to appeal.  Whilst there is no time limit on when an appeal can be lodged,  it is normally best to meet the official closing dates, otherwise parents may find the schools their appeal is heard late and the school has filled at the time of the main appeals.

I regularly receive a number of enquiries about oversubscription appeals at the beginning of March when decisions arrive. These arise where the school (it may be non-selective or grammar) is full after the main allocation of places. 

In all cases, it is important that you notify the Admission Authority (which is the Local Authority in the case of Community and Voluntary Controlled Schools, otherwise it is the school or academy) that you are appealing, so that you are in the lists before the closing date for appeals. I advise many 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 you are sent with your decision letter, which means you do not need to submit full details by deadline day). You can then leave submitting a detailed letter until you have a clearer picture of the situation and you can also find out by how much you missed out on a place (for example distance) from the school. 

For non-selective schools, or oversubscribed grammar schools where your child passed the Kent or Medway Test, you should also apply to go on the waiting list. Arrangements for both processes are sent with your allocation letter on National Allocation Day.

In any case, DO NOT PANIC. Do not send off something immediately. It may damage your case when the appeal is finally heard and, however angry you are with the allocation, you won't gain any advantage or have your case heard early.  It is best to wait until you are ready with all your supporting evidence and then send it in together. It is good practice to get all material there at least ten days before the appeals start for your school, to ensure that papers can be distributed to the panellists. Few appeals are heard before May but Admission Authorities must publish their appeal timetable on their website. No Appeal Panel will discriminate against you if you deliver supplementary material after the official closing date for appeals, although administrators often find it convenient and may hassle you. If you don’t register your appeal until after this date you may find your appeal is heard after the main batch, when it may be more difficult to win an appeal if there is no room.

This right includes appeals against a decision not to be offered a place at sixth form, although the student themselves can also appeal in such cases.

In Kent and Medway, appeals are heard before an Independent Appeal Panel comprising three panellists (except at Simon Langton Boys Grammar that normally uses five panellists). These are independent of the school and the Local Authority, but are appointed by the Admission Authority. All panellists are required to have been trained. An Appeal Panel has to have at least one Advisory Member and one Lay Member. An Advisory Member has experience in education, or is acquainted with educational conditions in the area, or is the parent of a registered child at a school. A Lay Member does not have personal experience in the management or provision of education in any school, but may be a school governor or have other voluntary experience. As you can see, appeal panellists do not initially have to have great knowledge of the education system, but soon acquire expertise in the role and in the different situations they may be faced with. All are volunteers and in my experience the great majority carry out an effective job. 

Chances of success at appeal vary widely; last year the number of successful appeals at individual Kent grammar schools varied from 0 to 75, and for non selective schools from 0 to 51. You will find some more detail about appeal outcomes for 2019 here.  These figures confirm that whilst Panels are trained to follow the mandatory Code of Practice, they may adapt their decision to local circumstances, such as the pressure on places. 

For non selective and primary schools, appeals are against a decision not to admit the child because the school is full. 

For grammar schools, there are three types of appeal:
1) Against a decision that the child has been found non selective, although there are still places in the school;
2) Against a decision that the child has been found non-selective and the school is full;
3) Against a decision that the child has been found selective but the school is full. 

Appeal Panels can be organised in a variety of ways. All community  and voluntary controlled schools in Kent and Medway will use Panels selected and trained by the Local Authority, but independent of the Education Department. The LA also provides clerks to administer the process and will manage all paperwork. 

Academies, Foundation and Voluntary Aided Schools in Kent may also use the services of Local Authority Panels, but those in Kent or Medway have three alternative choices:

  1. There are several Independent Appeal Panel Administrators operating in the area who offer services to a number of schools. These will recruit their own appeal Panel members and provide Independent Clerks. 
  2. A few schools use their own independent clerk to organise appeals and may recruit their own Independent panellists.
  3. There are now a couple of organisations offering to run appeals for schools, in one case even offering to provide the school representative at the appeal! Statistics for these panels suggest a much lower rate of success. 

In my experience, Panels organised by the Local Authorities or Independent Panel Administrators managing appeals at a group of schools are generally most independent.

Each Panel administrator should provide comprehensive documentation in advance setting out the appeal process, so that parents know what procedure is to be followed.

An increasing number of schools that are oversubscribed in both Kent and Medway operate a group appeal. At a group appeal, all appealing parents are invited to hear the Admission Authority case for not admitting additional pupils in the presence of the Independent Appeal Panel, and to ask questions. The Appeal Panel can then make a decision on how many additional children should be admitted (if any), so that individual appeals can focus on the parental case, without the issues of fullness being considered further at every appeal. No individual case or circumstances are considered at the group stage. 

I believe this is an effective way of managing oversubscription appeals, but can produce fireworks or a difficult meeting that requires good chairmanship. Where a group appeal is not used, each individual hearing considers evidence on both the fullness of the school and the case for the individual child.

Warning: None of the following takes into Account the unknown Consequences for School Admissions of Coronavirus

Note: This is the most visited page on the website, having been visited 354,458 times since it was first published nine years ago, twice as many as the second most popular page,  Kent Secondary School Admissions,  followed by Medway Grammar Schools and Medway Secondary Schools

Last updated April 2020 


Please note you will find considerable additional information about many Kent schools by entering their name in the search engine of this website, or by visiting Individual Schools

The commercial 11 Plus Exams website contains a great deal of valuable information about tests and how to prepare for them, and grammar school appeals, across the country. Three important points to bear in mind (1) much of the material is written from the perspective of the Buckinghamshire test; (2) The Kent Forum for the website is dominated by comments from out of county families looking for Kent grammar schools; (3) it is a commercial site whose main purpose is to sell materials for Test preparation (not necessarily a bad thing!).  

Once again parents will be able to register for the Kent Test online via by 3rd July 2019. If they register online and provide an e-mail address, they will receive their child’s assessment decision via e-mail on 17th October 2019. I do recommend this process as each year postal results for some children are delayed.  

News and Information Items relevant to Kent Test and Grammar School Admission 

Kent Test Results October 2019

Further Analysis of Kent Test Results October 2019 

Missed Registration for the Kent and Medway Test; and Illness at the Time of the Test

Kent Secondary School Admissions 2020

Oversubscription and Vacancies in Kent Grammar Schools: Allocation 2020

Kent Individual Schools Information

Application Process for 2021 entry

Key Action

Scheme Date

Registration for testing opens

Monday 1 June 2020

Closing date for registration

Wednesday 1 July 2020

Test date for pupils in Kent primary schools

Thursday 10 September 2020

Test date for out of county pupils

Saturday 12 September 2020

Assessment decision sent to parents

Thursday 15 October 2020

Then as for Kent Secondary Schools Page

 KCC publishes a Kent Test Familiarisation Booklet which gives guidance and examples of questions of the type used in the Kent Test. 

Test Specification for 2021 entry

Kent candidates will take the tests on Thursday 10 September 2020. External candidates will take them on Saturday 12 September 2020. Everyone will take the tests on one day. 

The first test will be an English and Maths paper in multiple-choice format with a separate machine readable (OMR) answer sheet. The English test is the first section. The whole test will take an hour to administer, plus any admin time before formal timing begins. Each sub-test will take 25 minutes, and will be preceded by a five minute practice exercise. Children will be required to stop at the end of the English section and wait for instructions before they start the Maths paper. The English will involve a comprehension exercise plus some additional questions drawn from a set designed to test literacy skills.

The second test will be a Reasoning paper in multiple-choice format. It will take about an hour* to administer, including the practice drills and questions. It will contain a verbal reasoning section and a non-verbal reasoning section of roughly the same length, with the verbal reasoning being the first part. The non-verbal reasoning will be split into four short sections, administered and timed individually (as in the previous tests).

There will still be a writing exercise which will not be marked but may be taken into consideration in borderline cases referred to the local Head Teacher Assessment Panel. 40 minutes will be allowed for the writing task, including 10 minutes to plan the piece.

 *Exactly how long the reasoning test takes will depend on how quickly the practice drill and questions are completed before each timed section.  


Scores will still be age standardised, using a national standardisation. The score range on each paper will be 69 or 70 to 141 as now, so the maximum aggregate standardised score would be 423.


Until Kent pupils have taken the tests it will not be possible to predict the threshold for grammar school but it is probable that it will be set in a similar way, using a minimum aggregate score and a minimum level for a single score.

Wherever the threshold is set, those schools which rank children by aggregate score for admission will continue to work down their list of applicants in score order, taking the highest scorers first, so the only effect of the changes will be that the scores involved will be different because fewer tests are involved. 


You cannot appeal against a Kent Test Result, only against a decision not to be awarded a grammar school place you have applied for. 

Disability leading to a need to make adjustments to the Kent Test
Kent County Council has published its Guidelines for Requesting Reasonable Adjustments to 11 plus Test materials or the granting of additional time in the Test here.  You will find the guidance below the form. The keys are that it is the school that makes any request, not the parents; it has to be made in good time (there is a 24th June deadline given on the past information at this link); and that appropriate evidence has to be provided of a special education need which shows the school is "providing evidence to enable the LA to consider whether a child is disabled within the terms of the Equality Act 2010, and whether adjustments to 11+ materials or conditions may be appropriate. It is essential that you provide clear, concise, up-to-date evidence. Requests for adjustments will not be considered where no evidence is provided or the evidence is out of date".  Please note that a common outcome is for the child to be given extra time in the written test, which is of limited value as this is only taken into account in the event of a Headteacher Assessment, see below
Kent Test Results
 When results are sent out on 15th October, they confirm whether the child has been found selective or not, together with the results of the Individual Tests. Those who consider appealing are in for a long wait, as you cannot appeal until you are allocated a school on 1st March 2021. The first appeals are generally heard by the beginning of May. Feel sorry for those given an assessment on 15th October 2020, whose appeal is not heard until the middle of June 2021!

The pass mark is set to select 21% of Kent children and may vary from year to year. This variation does not mean that the test varies in standard. Kent County Council set a new test structure for 2015 entry explained in the Test Specification above, and some of the articles whose links are provided at the beginning of this article.

All parents of Kent grammar school applicants will have their decision letters placed in the post on 15th October 2019 to arrive on doorsteps on the 16th.  For those parents (the large majority) who registered on line and provided a valid email address, an email will be sent after 4pm, on the 15th October. With some 16,000 results to be sent out, this sometimes takes considerable time.  For those parents who registered online but did not provide a valid email address they will be able to log onto the KCC website to view the decisions after 5pm. These contain just the pass/fail decision, for individual marks contact your primary school. Please note, I have now retired from offering individual advice.

Consult the article on In Year Admissions if you are looking for a new grammar school at other times.

Note: Under the Data Protection Act, Schedule 7, Section 9, candidates do not have the right to see their test papers once they have been handed in. The Freedom of Information Act does not override the Data Protection Act in this matter.  However,  KCC officers are happy to check scores. 

Headteacher Assessment (HTA)
Primary school headteachers are provided with the results at the beginning of October. They have the right to apply for a 'Headteacher Assessment' (often called Headteacher Appeal) for children who have not reached the pass standard. This is carried out on a confidential basis without parents being informed.  A Panel of headteachers then considers a selection of work submitted by the primary school, the English written paper taken as part of the Kent Test and a report containing evidence from the Primary headteacher.  This process produces a further 4% (in theory, around 6% in practice) aiming to bring the total of 25% across Kent. Children from outside Kent are considered on the same basis but do not count in the statistical exercise. If the child is successful in the headteacher assessment, then the decision is regarded as a pass on an equal footing with those who gained automatic selection through test results. This means that the child is found selective and this decision is recognised at all Kent grammar schools. Importantly, Government has confirmed that this process is an assessment, not a review. The difference in definition is important as government legislation places severe constraints on applicants applying for a Review in authorities such as Medway (go to Review).



A total of 26.6% out of the whole cohort of children living in Kent were found selective for 2020 entry. The proportion of children in the west of the county taking the tests is lower than in the east, whilst the proportion passing is higher. You will find comprehensive statistics here

  • Six Kent grammar schools also offer places through their own tests. These are: Dover Grammar School for Boys; Dover Grammar School for Girls; Folkestone School for Girls; The Harvey Grammar School, Folkestone; Highsted Grammar, Sittingbourne; and Mayfield Grammar School, Gravesend. Eligibility for admission depends on success at either the school's own test or the Kent Test, although if the school is oversubscribed, as happened with four of the six schools for 2020 entry (excluding Dover Boys and Highsted), places are awarded through the oversubscription criteria which do not take into account which test was passed to achieve eligibility. 
  • The following schools will offer some or all of their places to the highest scoring applicants. You need to read the oversubscription criteria  to determine the rules:  Dartford Grammar School, Dartford Grammar School for Girls, Judd School, Maidstone Grammar School, Simon Langton Grammar School for Boys, Skinners School, Tonbridge Grammar School (Girls). For some of these you will not know the pass mark before applying, although there is guidance elsewhere on this website (use the search engine or go to Individual Schools). Depending on the school, the mark  may only be determined by the scores of those applying, which you will find here fro 2020 entry  and for 2021 will become public in March  when decisions are announced.
  • You will also find links to Medway Test outcomes  for 2020 entry.

Some Grammar School Admission Scenarios:

  • If the child has passed the Kent tests, you may name just grammar schools on your SCAF. If your child does not qualify for any of these, because other children have taken up all available places, you could be offered the nearest grammar school with a vacancy, although KCC has no obligation to do so and tends to offer a place at the nearest non-selective school. In some previous years this has affected children in Canterbury, Dartford, Faversham,Gravesham & Thanet. What was described as "an unwritten policy" by KCC that a Kent child who passed the 11 plus was entitled to a grammar school place, no longer applies.
  • The Dover, Shepway, Mayfield and Highsted Tests do not qualify you for admission to any other grammar school.
  • If your child has not taken the eleven plus, you can only be considered for non selective schools, but can make a late application which will enable this to happen. 

  • If your child has taken the eleven plus and not passed, and you wish to appeal, you must name the grammar schools you wish to appeal to on the SCAF, together with any non selective schools you wish to apply to.

  • If your child has passed the eleven plus and you name grammar schools and a non selective school, for example a church comprehensive school, you will be offered the highest school on your list for which your child is eligible. If  this is the non selective school then you will be offered it in preference to a grammar school lower down your list.




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  • Turner Schools: Update


    For the last three and a half years, Turner Schools has been one of my most prolific themes for articles on this website, aided and abetted by its CEO and founder Dr Jo Saxton, whose passion for promoting the Trust (named after her grandmother) and making fantastical claims for its performance and future prospects was simply breathtaking. She departed the Trust in March, after just three years, to become a Political Adviser to Gavin Williamson, Secretary of State for Education, whose subsequent gaffe ridden career is well documented, but presumably is coincidental.
    Her successor, Seamus Murphy, has wisely not sought headlines in the same way but has still made his mark. Subsequently, school leaders in two of the four Turner schools have bitten the dust, both controversially. Teacher turnover has continued unabated at a high level, well over twice the national average for the past three years. There has also been a high turnover of Trustees and Members of Turner Schools, the two distinct bodies responsible for governance. Mr Murphy still has to manage the legacy of a massive financial deficit left by Dr Saxton.

    The EKC Group, which runs Folkestone College, has sensed an expansion opportunity and has opened the Folkestone Junior College this month. This offers a full-time alternative to the Turner Schools monopoly of non-selective education in Folkestone, in Years 10 and 11, surely a major challenge to the Trust.

    Written on Sunday, 13 September 2020 19:36 Be the first to comment! Read more...
  • The New No Win Park Crescent Academy, Thanet

    Kent County Council has now applied for Planning Permission for the controversial new secondary school in Thanet, exposing further problems with the project.

    The background to the new school briefly is that, first of all, KCC overestimated the number of secondary aged children coming through the system in Thanet to justify commissioning a new school. The Council then backtracked, with the 2020-2024 Kent Schools Commissioning Plan explaining (p137) how they could comfortably manage the small long term pupil number deficit by expanding two of the District’s six non-selective schools.

    Park Crescent Academy

    The real problem is that two of the Thanet schools are so unpopular with some families to the extent that 189 children were allocated to them in March who never applied to either. Others were offered places in Sandwich and Deal schools, some miles away. The full background to the controversy is explained here. When the new school opens, with a planned intake of 180 children, at least one of these schools is likely to become unviable. As a result, KCC’s introduction to the Planning Permission Consultation is quite simply dishonest, as explained below.

    One of the problems with the new school, now to be called Park Crescent Academy after one of the adjacent roads, is that the site on which it is to be built is very cramped as can be seen from the projection above, and explained below. The new academy will replace the residential Royal School for the Deaf which was closed down in 2015, see below. One of the consequences of the limited space, set out below, is that the school will have no sixth form.

    Written on Saturday, 05 September 2020 18:23 1 comment Read more...
  • Further Trauma at St Thomas' Catholic Primary School

    Update, 9th September: In a sign of the level of crisis at St Thomas Catholic Primary, Dr Simon Hughes, Director of Education and Schools Commissioner at the Catholic Diocese of Southwark, has been appointed a governor at the school with immediate effect. See further details below

    The Chair of the Kent Catholic Schools Partnership wrote to parents of St Thomas Catholic Primary School on 17th June to inform them that the headteacher, Mrs Aquilina, was being given ‘special leave until the end of the academic year’. This followed a safeguarding incident which created considerable concern and debate, the absence being widely and reasonably assumed to be a formal suspension from her responsibilities because of the safeguarding issue.

    On July 25th, at the end of the summer term, he wrote again ‘We have now reached the end of the academic year and can confirm that Mrs Aquilina will be returning to her role of Headteacher at St Thomas’ Primary on 1 September 2020…. A meeting with parents and carers of St Thomas’ will be held at the start of the new academic year’

    Yesterday, 1st September, Mr Powis, the Chair of KCSP, wrote again to parents, to inform them that Mrs Aquilina will now be ‘on special leave for the foreseeable future’. The letter unsurprisingly contains no further explanation of the change of direction and no mention of the meeting for parents promised in the previous letter. This may be because of legal issues. 

    Written on Tuesday, 01 September 2020 19:59 Be the first to comment! Read more...
  • Coronavirus and School Transport in Kent and Medway: Part Three

     Update: It has been suggested that the fall in take-up for the Kent Travel Pass is partly due to some families deciding not to send their children back to school at this time. It will soon become clear if this is a factor.  

    Following on from the TUI holiday flight incident and the failure of passengers to follow rules, it is relevant to note the following

     Government statement: 'We do not expect drivers to police pupil behaviour. Their role is to focus on driving the vehicle safely' whilst KCC considers that 'Children travelling on these services will be required to wear face coverings for those over 11 and without an exemption'.

    But from Stagecoach, one of the largest school contractors in Kent:  ‘Our drivers will not refuse travel or apply any enforcement measures, but we appeal to students and parents to ensure that this is taken seriously and that a face-covering is worn at all times when on the bus’.

    It is not surprising that, partly as a result of this and partly through matters relating to social distancing, parental caution has seen the number of applications for the Kent travel passes fall by over half for September. Those for age 11-16 are down from around 24,000 normally to just 12,557 for September, with 16+ passes down from around 7,000 to 2,280. Most of the missing families will now be driving their children to school by car, swelling the road traffic considerably across the county at the two peak school times.

    There is likely as a consequence to be travel chaos at peak periods particularly in areas where there are several secondary schools close together. Three towns spring to mind: Canterbury, Sittingbourne and Tunbridge Wells, but I am sure there are others. One can also add in schools served by narrow roads as explained in a previous article entitled The Coronavirus Effect on the 'School Run' in Kent, Part 2 which I wrote two weeks ago, and looks at the developing problems of getting children to school.  

    I also look below at transport matters contained in new advice published by the government on Friday around 5.30 p.m. This sets fresh expectations for schools from the start of the new term, for many just five days in advance, including a weekend and a bank holiday. It contains 18 pages of advice, some wise and helpful, some very belated, some trivial and some patronising.  Finally, a look at Brockhill Park and Ebbsfleet Green Primary Schools. 

    Written on Monday, 31 August 2020 19:26 2 comments Read more...
  • Academy and Free School News August 2020

    There are just five schools that have converted to become academies in 2020, including the four which came together to be the EKC (East Kent Trust) in March.  These are: Briary Primary, Herne Bay; Bysingwood Primary, Faversham; Holywell Primary, Upchurch; and Queenborough School, Isle of Sheppey. I have written extensively about the new Trust here.  The month before, the failed Sunny Bank Primary in Sittingbourne became a sponsored academy with The Island Learning Trust on the Isle of Sheppey. Background here

    I also look below at the new applications to become academies of: Marden Primary, near Tonbridge; Eastchurch Primary, Isle of Sheppey; Holy Trinity VA Primary, Gravesend; Worth Primary, Deal; and Fairview Primary and Oaklands School in Gillingham, two schools converting to become part of the Westbrook Trust. The re-brokering of the failed Delce Academy to the Inspire Partnership Academy Trust has also taken place. Update: 4/9/20. The conversions of Marden, Eastchurch and Oaklands have now taken place. 

    There are six new free schools opening in Kent in September including one new secondary school, Maidstone School of Science and Technology.  There are three new primary schools: Bearsted Primary Academy in Maidstone; Ebbsfleet Green Primary in Dartford; Springhead Park Primary in Gravesham; and two Special Schools, Aspire School in Sittingbourne and Snowfields Academy in Maidstone. 

    I look at other decisions of the South East and South London Headteacher Board of the Regional Schools Commissioner, relating to the Barnsole Trust, Folkestone Academy and Holmesdale School, along with an item relating to the North West Kent Alternative Provision Service.

    Written on Thursday, 27 August 2020 05:47 Be the first to comment! Read more...
  • Griffin Schools Trust: A Danger for Pupils?

    I have followed the misfortunes of the Griffin Schools Trust for many years since it took over four primary schools as academies in Medway, then having Wayfield Primary taken away from it in 2016, following a catastrophic Ofsted Report that highlighted 'Pupils’ safety and well-being are at risk; Staff manage pupils’ behaviour poorly; Normal discipline has broken down; On occasion, staff lose control of pupils, who are then at risk of being harmed'  a theme echoed in the most recent Ofsted report on a Griffin school: 'Many pupils do not feel safe attending this school. They feel intimidated by others’ conduct. Pupils are right to be concerned. Leaders have not been effective in managing pupils’ behaviour. It is increasingly rowdy and sometimes dangerous', this time about Stantonbury International, a school which had been the largest in the country when they took it over, although unsurprising it now has numbers falling sharply. Two recent articles in Education Uncovered focus on the Trust, its failures and its control by a small coterie of four individuals, three of whom have run it since its foundation in 2013. 

    One is left in bewilderment as to why the Education Funding Agency awarded Stantonbury to the Griffin  Schools Trust in the first place, with their limited experience of running just one other secondary school, which it has now brought down to Ofsted 'Requires Improvement' and why it has not now closed the Trust down. This is what eventually happened with two other notorious Academy Trusts which also operated in Kent

    Written on Saturday, 22 August 2020 06:00 Be the first to comment! Read more...