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Thursday, 17 October 2019 05:00

Change of Pass Scores in the Kent Test for entry to Grammar School in 2020

The scores for achieving success in the Kent Test have risen substantially this year, the biggest shift since the new Test was introduced in 2014.
To be awarded an automatic pass, candidates will have had to have achieved a score of 110 on each of the three sections - English, mathematics, and reasoning – along with an aggregate score across the three sections of  the Test. The change of scores will make NO difference to the number of children passing, as the pass mark is set to achieve a target of  awarding 21% of children an automatic place and there will be no difference this year, as I will be able to confirm later when further details are available.
 
For children applying to those schools that select some or all of their pupils by high scores, the effect of the change is unpredictable (so please don’t ask) although I explore this further below.
In the 2018 Kent Test, the pass scores were 107 in each of the three sections together with an aggregate of 323. 
 
As well as the planned 21% pass rate, further children are found selective through the Headteacher Assessment (HTA), as explained here. In reality, the 2018 results were typical with 18.8% of children passing the test directly, and another 6.3% were found to be of grammar school standard by the HTA  giving a total of 25.2% very close to the target of 25.0%. There will be some small differences in who is found selective at the margins because of the new scores, but it is completely impossible to have a view on who this would affect, and not even worth speculating about it.
Super (and Semi-Super) Selective Schools
There are seven grammar schools that select a high proportion of their places on high scores in the Kent Test. There are exceptions in most cases for siblings, children on Pupil Premium, and staff children and you should look at individual prospectuses for details.
 
Three other schools offer a small number of ‘Governors Places’ to the highest scorers, so will not be affected by the change. These are: Tunbridge Wells Girls, and Wilmington Boys and Girls.  
Dartford Grammar, Dartford Grammar Girls, The Judd School and Tonbridge Grammar take the highest scorers in each of two categories – local children and those outside a set catchment area with a set proportion for each. The only difference here, is that one can expect the cut off score to rise by a few points, although the level is unpredictable, and those who annually claim to be able to forecast them have no basis on which to do so. Only on March 2nd 2020 will these be known when allocations are sent out. In other words, there is no practical change in the intake.
 
The Skinner’s School set out new oversubscription criteria last year, giving more priority to local boys, offering 140 West Kent places to those scoring an aggregate of 360 or more, then on distance grounds. 20 places are awarded to other boys on the same basis (according to the school website, virtually all from Sussex).  For West Kent boys, the furthest distance a place was offered was 10.0 miles, but this went out to 11.6 miles by the time of the appeals. For outers it settled at 12 miles. With the same number of boys passing the Kent test, the higher pass mark will see more boys qualifying at this standard in both categories, and so the cut off distance will shrink by an undetermined amount!
 
Maidstone Grammar School gives priority to qualifying children resident in one of a group of listed parishes, achieving a pass mark of 360, only using distance if these fill the school. Then come other qualified children in the listed parishes, then anyone else. The pool of children qualified and in the listed parishes, will not change, although I know that some of the 29 grammar qualified boys who placed the school in first place and were initially turned down came from listed parishes. There will again be more children scoring above 360 from these parishes, but there is no limit on numbers, so unless there are more of these than the 205 Planned Admission Number, all will get in. to balance this, the number with scores of less than 360 will decrease by the same amount, so there should be little difference. For 2019 entrance, there were just 18 appeals upheld out of 64 including four grammar qualified boys, so I would anticipate that all living within a respectable distance from the school were offered places eventually.  
 
Simon Langton Grammar School for Boys initially had an admissions policy very similar to MGS, but realised the potential weakness of a changing pass mark. As a result they changed the key criterion to read: ‘boys whose Kent Test score is twenty or more marks above the pass mark’  living within nine miles of the school. There should therefore be a negligible change in numbers. In practice, with the school expanding by 30 places to 150 for 2019, and a falling off of popularity, every qualified first choice was offered a place this year, so the criterion became irrelevant.
Last modified on Sunday, 20 October 2019 12:49

1 comment

  • Comment Link Friday, 18 October 2019 13:16 posted by Olu

    The change in the pass mark, does this have a direct correlation with the ooc cut off marks please? Does it mean all the cut off for DGS for example will go up as a result? Thanks PETER: As my article makes clear, neither I nor anyone else can predict such matters, especially with the fall off in OOCs, although I suspect this is mainly in West Kent.

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