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Wednesday, 03 July 2013 10:45

The Mystery of Mayfield Grammar (previously Gravesend Grammar School for Girls)

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I live in Gravesend and am regularly asked why Mayfield Grammar School has vacancies this year, a situation hardly improved when there were just 17 successful appeals  out of 39, although the school had 35 spaces going.

Actually there is no mystery as the explanation is quite straightforward and arises because of a gender difference in the town greater than anywhere else in Kent this year. In the current Year 6, Gravesham has 610 boys in local state schools but only 536 girls. The discrepancy was exacerbated by the children’s performance in the Kent Test where 23% of boys passed but only 21% of girls. This gave a total of 144 selective boys but only 115 girls.....


I remain surprised that more girls are not pulled in from neighbouring areas, a surprise underlined by the recent absolutely Outstanding OFSTED Report on the school published today, one of the best I have ever seen, making the school’s reputation for excellence surely at its best for many years.

A few quotes: “Staff and school leaders share the headteacher's uncompromising vision for the school that promotes the learning and progress of every student within a caring and cohesive community. As a result, achievement in all subjects including English and mathematics is exceptionally high; teachers enjoy their teaching and work hard to ensure that what they provide in the classroom helps students to flourish - As a consequence, much teaching is outstanding; the behaviour of students is exemplary; the sixth form is outstanding”. There is much more of the same here.

I thought the problem might be exacerbated with other neighbouring girls grammar schools enticing Gravesham pupils away, but this is not so. Rochester Grammar School’s entrance requirement has now dipped to an aggregate score of 508 (actually below the pass score of 509 admitting girls who passed on Review); Fort Pitt had one vacancy in March, but now recruits children from the Hoo Peninsula in preference to Gravesham; Wilmington Girls had 5 vacancies before the appeals; and Dartford Girls admission criteria make it virtually impossible for Gravesham children to secure places.

As with several other grammar schools with vacancies, parents whose children score two Level 5s in the recent SATs might find it worthwhile approaching the school directly to see if they can be considered as late applicants. Even if there was an unsuccessful appeal, if the school is Foundation or an academy, it can at its discretion accept a second application on the grounds that there has been a significant and material change in the circumstances of the child, although this would necessitate a fresh appeal.

There is a similar situation at Borden Grammar School in Sittingbourne, where across the whole of Swale (including Sheppey and Faversham), 161 boys and 193 girls passed the 11 plus, here the whole discrepancy being accounted for by 30 fewer boys than girls passing on Headteacher Assessment (poor handwriting and scruffy work by boys?).  This problem is exacerbated by the booming popularity of Queen Elizabeth’s in Faversham, the most oversubscribed grammar school in Kent (excepting the super-selectives & Dartford grammars who recruit significantly across the county boundary).

Read 31702 times Last modified on Friday, 20 September 2013 19:38

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