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Friday, 17 November 2017 22:19

Further analysis of Kent test results for Admission September 2018

I have now had further opportunity to look at data relating to the recent Kent Test outcomes for Admission in September 2018, with a summary of the statistics below. This article expands my initial look at the 2017 Kent Test results, written in October, which should be read in conjunction with this article. The figures do not match exactly, as adjustments and late tests have produced changes.

Bidborough CofE

Headlines are:
  • The proportion of passes for Kent school children has fallen slightly from 25.7% to 25.4%, made up of 19.1% automatic passes with a further 6.4% Head Teacher Assessment.
  • Girls are still ahead on both automatic test passes since the Test was changed in 2014, and also in HTAs, with the differentials widening to 26.6% girls passing to 24.3% of boys.  
  • As in previous years, the highest proportion of HTA success is in East Kent, nearly twice the lowest in West Kent.
  • There is a further increase in the proportion of children on Pupil Premium found selective to 9.8% of the Kent state school total passes. This increase is brought about through headteachers recognising ability in the HTA, where coaching is irrelevant, with 37% of all PP passes being through this route. 
  • As last year, the schools with the highest proportion of Kent successes are drawn from across the county. However, the schools are all different from last year: Bidborough CofE VC (Tunbridge Wells) – 69%; Stowting CofE – 67%; Bridge & Patrixbourne CofE (Canterbury) – 66%; Lady Boswell’s CofE VA (Sevenoaks); Ryarsh (Malling) – 62%; and Sheldwich (Faversham) – 62%.
  • There is yet another leap by 600 children in Out of County Passes, but going  on last year’s pattern, only around 15% of whom will apply and be offered places in Kent grammars .
  • StowtingFor more detail on each of these items, see below:

 My previous article on initial outcomes contains links to many relevant items, and comments on related issues, notably pressure on grammar school places across the county.  

Pass Mark
The pass mark level comprises, for the fourth year running, a nationally standardised score of 106 in each of English, Maths and Reasoning, together with an aggregate score of at least 320. This standard is intended to select approximately 21% of Kent resident children (given the large numbers it is difficult to hit this level precisely), although for the 2017 Test, it has produced just 19.1%. Additional children are found selective by the process of Headteacher Assessment (HTA) described here and below. The target here is 4%, but for 2017 the outcome was 6.4%, the two scores conveniently adding up to 25.4% of the peer group, very close to the overall target.
This mark is sufficient for entrance to the majority of Kent grammar schools, apart from seven that require higher marks for all or most of their entrants. The required marks for the latter will vary according to demand each year, and I will not collect this data until March. Further places can be awarded to individual schools by the appeal process; my recent article on Appeals reporting on 2017 outcomes.
Kent Grammar School Assessments 2017
for Admission in September 2018*




Year Six Kent Population**


51% 49% 100%

Number who sat test


5528 10713 59% 64% 62%

Automatic Pass


1665 3312 18.7% 19.4% 19.1%

Headteacher Assessment (HTA)


1038 1939 10.2%  12.1% 11.2%
HTA Passes  491 612 1103  5.6%  7.1%  6.4% 

Total Kent  Passes


2277 4415 24.3%  26.6% 25.4%

Out of County Tested



Out of County Automatic Pass

  2621    53%

OOC Headteacher Assessment





  114    2%
Total OOC Passes   2735   57%
Girls lead again
As with 2016, girls are performing better than boys in both the Test and HTAs, the test outcome being a reversal of the previous model, replaced in 2014. This change has been brought about primarily because of the introduction of a literacy element in the new Test which, according to the statistics, favours girls giving an advantage of 4% this year. Girls have always performed best on HTA, with a differential of 14% more in 2017. This gap will again reduce pressure on boys’ grammar school places, such issues being explored here.
School Performance
Overall, the best performing primary schools in terms of percentage pass rate from total pupil numbers are: Bidborough CofE VC (Tunbridge ~Wells) – 69%; Stowting CofE – 67%; Bridge & Patrixbourne CofE (Canterbury) – 66%; Lady Boswell’s CofE VA (Sevenoaks); Ryarsh (Malling) – 62%; and Sheldwich (Faversham) – 62%; Lady Joanna Thornhill (Ashford) – 58%; Amherst (Sevenoaks) – 58%; and Tunstall CofE (Sittingbourne) – 58%. With eight of these being different from the 2016 figures (Amherst and Lady Boswell’s both from Sevenoaks being the exception), mainly different again from the 2015 top performers, it is clear there is no such thing as ‘which are the best schools for grammar entrance’ a question I am regularly asked. This is because there is no way of knowing what proportion of the pass marks are down: to high quality teaching in the school; private tuition; or simply a group of bright children passing through. Just one of these schools, Tunstall featured in the ten Kent schools with the highest proportion of pupils gaining higher grade SATs in 2016, having come first equal out of all schools.  
At the other end of the scale, whilst I think all Kent primary schools entered candidates, 16 had no successes, a number of whom are no surprise, for one of a number of reasons.
Text Tuition Academy
District Variation in Passes and Headteacher Assessment (HTA)
Last year 389 children qualified for Kent grammar schools through success in a local Test only, mainly in Dover and Shepway, doubling the proportion of grammar assessed children in those districts. I would anticipate a similar figure this year.

There is a 21% target of automatic passes across the county, although the pass marks this year gave 19.9%. There is also a target of an additional 4% of children to found selective by Head Teacher Assessment (HTA) which looks at children’s work, previous test results, headteacher recommendation and pass mark. Further details here. The actual outcome for HTAs was 6.4% of the total cohort found selective, arriving at a total of 15.4%, very close to the target of 25%.

In the table of District Performance below, I have separated three of the KCC  Districts into component parts, as these each have a distinct profile of grammar school success. So: Sevenoaks Town and Sevenoaks rural; Tonbridge and Malling; and Tunbridge Wells and Cranbrook & Weald.

This highlights Sevenoaks Town as having by far the highest proportion of grammar school success, with 46% of all pupils being assessed selective. Next are Tunbridge Wells and surprisingly for many, Canterbury (see below), although this should come as no surprise for those who have followed this theme on the website before. 

District Performance for Kent Test 2017
Passes %
Success %
Success %
Pupil  Premium
Ashford 18 6 24  46
Canterbury 19 11


& Weald
21 3 24  7
Dartford 19 5 25 33
Dover 14 6 20 33
Gravesham 16          7 23 23
Maidstone 17 7 25 44
Malling & Kings Hill 22 6 28 15
43 3 46 4
 20  4 24 19
Shepway 14 4 20 33
Swale 13 8 21 39
Thanet 12 8 20  44
Tonbridge  24 5 29  27
Tunbridge Wells 27 3 30  21

At the foot of the table come Dover, Shepway and Swale all with a 20% pass rate. However, the alternative locals test for the Dover and Shepway grammar schools, and Highsted Grammar in Sittingbourne will considerably inflate these figures. Last year, these passes provided over half of the pupils offered places at the two Dover grammar schools and Folkestone School for Girls, so the pass rates would more accurately be around 40% in each District.  

Once again approximately 11.5% of all Kent automatic passes have gone to children in the private sector, but just 4% of the upheld HTAs, resulting in overall 10% of selective assessments being for children at private schools. The data calculations can only consider those children who took the Test, so the total numbers in each school year group are not known. However, a considerable proportion of these successes will not take up grammar school places, preferring to remain private.

Head Teacher Assessments

The Canterbury secret lies in the very high proportion of children who have been found selective on the HTA, at 11%, or over a third of the total and much higher than any other district. This includes 14% of girls, double the county average for girls passing the HTA, an annually recurring pattern.

Most automatic passes follow socio-economic patterns across the county, but the influence of HTAs is quite the reverse. The table below shows outcomes of the four Headteacher Assessment Panels, that operate geographically across the county. These reflect previous patterns with nearly proportionally twice as many HTAs upheld in the East of the county at 64%, to just 34% in the West, with Mid and North West Kent somewhere in between. 

Head Teacher Assessments 2017




East  Kent considered


48% 52%

East Kent upheld


311 564 45% 55%

Mid Kent Considered


364 665 45% 55%

Mid Kent Upheld


199 337 34%  12.1%
North West considered  240 217 457 53%  47% 

North West upheld


138 265 48%  52%

West Kent considered


112  234



West Kent upheld


38 80 53%  47%

Total considered




 48% 52%

Total upheld

 560 686 1246 45%  55%
Pupil Premium Children
Thanks to FOI requests from a number of sources, there is now considerable information available on the Kent Test performance of children on Pupil Premium (PP), socially disadvantaged children the majority of whom qualify through Free School Meals. This shows that 411 out of 4183 Kent state school children who were found selective for entry to grammar school in September 2018 were on PP, a total of 10.0%, (9.0% last year). Many more will be selected via the local tests in Dover and Shepway, areas with considerable social deprivation. It is impossible to convert this into a rate for entrance to grammar school, as the numbers are inflated by private school and out of county entrants, and there is no accurate measure of this total, but private school entrants tend to be around 10% of the total according to previous FOIs I have seen. However, these are still a small proportion of the total, so the proportion of PP pupils who will be entering Kent grammar schools in 2018, will be well above the regularly quoted fallacious 3%, and a further advance on the more accurate 6% from government figures at Year 11, for PP children in Kent grammar schools. This reflects, I like to think, changing attitudes in the Kent education sector towards these disadvantaged children, influenced by the findings of the KCC Select Committee on Social Mobility and Grammar Schools, and underlined by a number of grammar schools now giving levels of priority for these children . As the data reveals, the argument that HTAs are biased against children carrying a Pupil Premium is also false. For 37% (153 out of the 411) of PP children found selective qualified through the HTA route, as against 26% of the total number of children found selective. That is a powerful argument to demonstrate that the system supports these children at a stage where there is no influence by private tutoring. However, there is still some way to go. 
I plan to look at this issue in greater detail in another article, likely after Christmas .
Out of County Passes
Each year the number of out of county Kent Test passes rises mainly due to what has been called 11 plus tourism, as too many London families apply to grammar schools around the M25 belt, or else the North West Kent grammars easily reached by rail out of SE London. This is usually accompanied by some hysterical media headlines about the consequent shortage of grammar school places for Kent children, which never actually happens, as most of these children never arrive.  

Recent changes in admission policy at the two Wilmington Grammars and the Judd School to favour Kent children is further inhibiting supply of places for out of county children, but certainly not demand. For 2017 admissions, of the 2165 (2002 in 2016) ooc Kent Test passes, just 454 (up from 412 in 2016, but almost identical to 2015) were offered places in March, over half at the four Dartford and Wilmington grammars, with this number likely to have fallen further before entry in September.

Of course this large proportion of speculative test sittings, in some cases merely provides free practice for grammar schools in other parts of the country for many as can be seen by the high number of enquiries on 11 plus forums from parents in possession of a selective assessment for their child. Many of these don’t even know where the Kent grammar schools are!

But of course, it is not free for Kent taxpayers, as the costs of administration, materials and provision of test venues falls on them. Sadly, there appears no way of recovering the costs, which surely run into tens of thousands of pounds, from those parents who have no Kent connections. 

Local Authorities with the Largest Number of
Out of County Assessments for Kent Test 2017
of Schools
Grammar Places
in 2017
Bexley 1167 58 624 127
Bromley 660 61 430 88
Greenwich 756 57 365 60
Medway 505 80 242 16
Lewisham  371 63 198 23
East Sussex 157 67 94 47



86 29
Croydon 77 63 65 6
Barking & Dagenham 142 52 68 6
These are the same top ten as in 2017, and mostly fairly easily accessible to Kent, apart from Croydon and Barking & Dagenham. I suspect that few if any of their 123 successes  will once again end up at Kent grammars in September. One can only wonder at the motives of the parents of the 12 Buckinghamshire children, the 13 from Slough, or the 7 from Norfolk who all took the Test, from a variety of primary schools, so presumably not all planning to move to Kent.   
Most notable is Medway, where increasingly commonly, children in some schools  take the Kent Test as the norm, along with the Medway Test. For 2017 entry fewer than 10% of the 182 Medway children found selective were offered Kent grammar places on allocation, 11 of the 16 at the tow Maidstone girls grammars, not all will have followed through on those offers as schools local to them made late offers often through appeal.
For Thurrock, 14 of the 29 offered places in 2017, were from Gravesend Grammar, but with the school reducing its intake from 174 to 150 for 2018 entry, this figures is likely to fall sharply. 
Last modified on Saturday, 29 June 2019 06:08


  • Comment Link Thursday, 06 February 2020 10:43 posted by JOAO COSTA

    Dear Peter,

    Thank you for the excellent article. Can you point me to your data sources, specifically, where can you find the official source of kent test pass results ? PETER: All from KCC FOI requests, available from them.

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 10 April 2018 12:16 posted by Gemma

    Dear Peter
    Thank you for your very helpful and detailed website. I am trying to locate information on the 2017 Kent Test scores i.e is a Reasoning score of 125 above average?
    Many Thanks PETER: Sorry, but I am afraid it is a specialised subject I am not interested in.

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