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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. 

You should also read the parallel article for 2019 admissions as it contains much more information and comment, including an analysis of the continued failures of Officers and Members of Medway Council to act in the interests of local children and address these three issues.

For 2019 admission, there were just 800 Medway children allocated places at the 1093 grammar school places available which makes a nonsense of  the Medway Council bid for a new grammar school. Instead another 236 Out of County children were allocated places, to fill up the vacancies.

Medway Test Outcomes 2019*
  Medway Out of County**
  Boys Girls Total Boys  Girls Total
Number in
1714 1772 3486
Taking Test
929 983 1912 749 754 1503
Passing Test 381 427 808 480 500 980
% Pass Rate 22.2% 24.1%  23.2%    
Number of Reviews
69   78  147  16 24  40
Number of Reviews
 4  11  15  1  2  3***
% Success Rate
of total
 0.23%  0.62%  0.43%
TOTAL Success Rate 22.46% 24.71% 23.61%      
*The target 23.0% pass rate is established from the performance of children at Medway state schools. 
** Out of County is abbreviated to OOC below, i.e. living outside Medway. However, in this table it includes Medway Private Schools and Home Educated, see below
*** All from Kent
The Review Process and Bias towards Girls and older children 
 The Review process is described in detail here. The table below demonstrates clearly the failure of the Review process to identify year on year the 2% figure of children supposed to be identified in the Medway selection process, with fewer than half this figure being put through in any of the past five years. For some reason outcomes of the 2018 Review were particularly shocking, but even so, identifying less than a quarter of the 70 children supposed to be selected this year is still a disgrace. Perhaps even more so is the false promise this gives to families, the work and stress they accept to follow the process through, and the denial of chances of a successful appeal at the end, as explained here. The sole exception now is at Chatham Grammar School for Girls.  
Medway Pupils Test & Review Outcomes
  Test Success % Review Success %
  Boys Girls Total Boys Girls Total
2019 22.2 24.1 23.2 0.22 0.63 0.43
2018 21.8 24.3   23.1 0.12  0.12 0.12
2017 23.1 23.0  23.0 0.24  0.49 0.37
2016 21.0 25.2 23.1 0.61 0.86 0.74
2015 21.2 24.1 22.7 0.52 1.4  0.94
2014 21.1 25.0 23.2 1.12 1.21 1.16

The inbuilt bias towards  girls and older children arises because of the nature of the Medway Test, with two fifths of the total marks being awarded for one piece of written work, marked subjectively as against the maths and verbal reasoning tests which are multiple choice. This is explained here. To highlight this issue consider four children who passed the Test this year with minimum marks, whose scores were:

Some Medway Test Scores 2019
83 118 93  495
86 113 97  495
89 119  79 495
83 116 97 495

These are four children have achieved the pass score of 495 on the basis of a high scoring single piece of writing along with two below average marks, maths very low, hardly suggesting they will thrive in grammar school. I hope for their sake I am wrong.  What I do know after years of talking with the families of children who have not passed the Medway Test is that success in the Extended Writing paper and therefore the whole Medway Test can be according to whether the child has experience of the genre of writing examined or not. 

Out of County passes

 For the second year running, the number of Medway Test passes from outside Medway is larger than that from Medway state and private schools. The split is: Medway state schools– 808 children passed; Medway private schools – 59 pupils passed; OOC – 921 children passed (including three Home Educated children, none from Medway).

Out of County Medway Passes 2019
Local Authority Passes



2019 Allocations
Other LAs
Kent 466 438 110
Bexley 151 150 51
Greenwich 134 126 55
Bromley 61 28 15
Medway Private 59 62 unknown
Lewisham 34 29 5
Southwark 18 10 5
Barking & Dagenham 11 10 5
TOTAL 980 906 246
By far the largest number of OOC children are from Kent, many of whom take both Kent and Medway Tests, with success at either Test qualifying them for Chatham Girls and Holcombe grammars, all of whom would be offered places at Chatham and probably all at Holcombe.

In practice, fewer than a third of all OOC children who pass the Medway Test are offered places in Medway grammar schools in March, and it is likely that many others withdraw before September, having received a better offer closer to home. The provision of  testing facilities for the additional 1303 OOC children who took the test, including many who are not looking for a Medway school but simply taking the test for practice, places a considerable practical and financial burden on the Council, most of which is wasted.

As discussed in previous articles, the breakdown of OOC offers for girls will look very different this year, with The Rochester Grammar changing its admission criteria to give high priority to local girls, whatever their pass score. Some of the OOC girls displaced will take up places at Chatham to replace the girls lost there to Rochester.







Last modified on Wednesday, 25 November 2020 23:36

1 comment

  • Comment Link Wednesday, 06 November 2019 18:29 posted by Richard Johnson

    Another great well researched article Peter; when is the Kent equivalent to come. PETER: for the second year running Kent has sent me false data and I have had to request an Internal Review of the failure, due at the end of November. However, don't hold your breath, last year I had more wrong data sent after an incompetent Internal Review

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