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Tuesday, 28 January 2020 22:45

Kent Schools A Level Performance Summer 2019

This article looks at A Level outcomes for Kent schools in the summer of 2019, following the release of performance data last week, Medway to follow. Kent schools outperform national outcomes in Attainment; summary data for Progress from GCSE to A Level not yet available. For individual schools I consider that the Progress score is the most important measure, as schools start from such different positions depending on their entry requirements for entry to the Sixth Form.
The school with the standout performance is Valley Park in Maidstone, top of the non-selective (n/s) Progress table for the second year running. It is the best school overall at progressing it A Level students; ahead of every grammar school; and second highest n/s on its A Level point score. 
Valley Park 2
It is followed by Herne Bay High in terms of Progress, both classified as Well Above Average, as in 2018. Both come ahead of Skinners School, the leading grammar. Altogether there are just six grammar schools with Above Average Progress, compared with nine Below Average, and Mayfield Grammar Well Below Average. There are another five n/s schools classified as Above Average on Progress: St Simon Stock; Homewood; St Anselm's; Knole and Hillview. 
As usual, The Judd School heads the list of high attainment measured in A Level point scores, ahead of Skinners, Cranbrook, Weald of Kent and Tunbridge Wells Girls, all from West Kent, and Highworth in Ashford. Altogether there are nine n/s schools above the lowest grammar school point scorers, Chatham and Clarendon and Mayfield.  They are as usual headed by Bennett Memorial Diocesan School, together with: Valley Park; Hillview; St Simon Stock; and Knole. 
Kent has a large number of excellent n/s schools offering large Sixth Forms that compete academically with grammar schools. Students should in any case look around at the different offerings before choosing to remain in their home school, or else to change to a good alternative.  I provide extensive tables of performance and commentary below.
Please note that I have only considered n/s schools with more than 40 students taking A Levels, as in general those with fewer pupils are only able to offer a very limited programme and so are not comparable. It is difficult to make comparative judgements at this level as schools vary so much in the pattern of their intake into Year 12 that the Achievement tables are of limited value. However, Progress from GCSE to A Level can be more revealing, with good n/s schools tending to better than many grammar schools for their students. These may be a useful contribution to decisions on where to follow one's studies.
Three grammar schools do not appear in the tables: Dartford; Tonbridge and Dane Court; as all three enter all their pupils for the International Baccalaureate instead of A Level and the two are not comparable. You will find a current data set for each Kent school at the time of writing here (commentary needs updating!  
Oakwood Park has a very low proportion for a of grammar school of A Level candidates taking three A Levels: 93 out of the 155 who took at least one.  You will find the equivalent proportion for every school with A Level candidates in the Individual Schools section. 
You will find the equivalent article for the 2018 A Level outcomes here
Valley Park School
The Valley Park performance is exceptional, outscoring every grammar school in its Progress Score and also an astonishing eleven grammar schools in the table of straight academic performance over the best three A Level scores. Progress was based on the 108 students who took at least one A Level. The A Level Points Score measures the 38 students who took three, the majority of others will have had a mixed programme of A Level and Vocational courses.  Whilst this is by some way its best performance yet, the school has shown a consistently  high performance in Progress and A Level Points over over recent years. Unsurprisingly, Valley Park is the most oversubscribed non-selective school in Kent at age eleven. For entry to the A Level Sixth Form, Valley Park's entrance requirements are quite modest:
A minimum of 5 grade 9-4 at GCSE, including English and Mathematics together with the specific subject entry requirements.
Specific subjects usually require Level 6, and occasionally Level 7. 
 Kent Non-Selective A Level Progress
There is not a great correlation between performance at GCSE and A Level for non-selective schools, suggesting that choice of school  where it exists,  needs to be considered carefully when using such criteria at the two distinct entrance ages.
I do not generally consider schools with small Sixth Forms, or those who are low performing as individual circumstances would need to be taken into account.  For example, Hayesbrook School in Tonbridge had 38 Year 13 pupils up to last summer. Thirty of these took at least one A Level, with just 10 taking three, with many of the students taking up one or more vocational subjects, results of which are not published. A Level progress was a strong average at 0.14, with two of those students achieving excellent average grades of at least AAB according to the data, so the course was clearly of benefit for most. However, the school, like many others, has to consider whether such numbers are financially viable and whether they are able to offer a worthwhile range of courses to suit students' needs, whilst knowing that a Sixth Form can add prestige to a school. 
Students at many of the schools topping the list have made better progress from GCSE than their local grammar schools, Herne Bay High out rating all East Kent grammar schools. Hillview School for Girls, the popular non-selective school in Tonbridge, has a better Progress Level than the Judd and Weald of Kent Grammar in the same town. Girls at Northfleet School for Girls make much better Progress than those at nearby Mayfield Grammar and, remarkably, the same level of A Level Points (below).
Seven of last year’s top ten performers (omitting two schools with low numbers) are also in the list below: Valley Park; Saint George’s CofE (Gravesend); Longfield; Bennett Memorial Diocesan School; Herne Bay; Homewood and Northfleet School for Girls.  All but three of the highest progress scoring schools are also in the list below of those with highest attainment, confirming their academic quality.
         Kent Non-Selective A Level Progress
 See below for
Term Definition
Well Above Average Average
Valley Park 108 0.70 C+ Saint George's 76 0.15 C
Herne Bay High 92 0.46 C Wrotham  52 0.12 C-
Above Average Mascalls 98 0.07 C
St Simon Stock 124 0.24 C Bennett 155 0.06 B-
Homewood 131 0.24 C- Northfleet Girls 42 0.05 D+
St Anselm's 78 0.19 C- St John's 86 -0.03 C-
Knole 72 0.18 C Longfield 64 -0.09 C-
Hillview  108 0.13 C+ Cornwallis 98 -0.13 D+
 'Num': the number of students in the school who took at least one A Level.
'Prog': short for Progress. These figures tell you how much progress students who studied A levels at the school made between the end of key stage 4 and the end of their A level studies, compared to similar students across England. A score above zero means students made more progress, on average, than students across England who got similar results at the end of key stage 4.
'Av Grade': This tells you the average A Level grade and average points that students achieved per A level entry. 
3 A Level Points: The average score of the best 3 A levels for each student who qualifies for this measure. This can also be expressed as an average A Level grade for the school as in this table.
There are two schools with Below Average Progress and more than 20 students taking three A Levels. These are Ursuline College, with 60 of its 71 Year 13 pupils taking at least one A Level, 26 of whom took three, but attracting a Progress rating of -0.96 and an Attainment Score of 10.8, equivalent to an E Grade. Both of these assessments are by some way the lowest in the county. Archbishop's School, much fallen from its place as an oversubscribed academically successful school of a few years back, had 49 Year 13 pupils, all but one of whom took an A Level and 21 taking three, with a Progress Level of -0.66, and Attainment Grade D. The latter is fourth lowest in Kent, but above Leigh Academy (100 taking A Levels, and Astor College (54), both with an average A Level Grade of D-.   
Kent Grammar A Level Progress
The leading grammar schools are no surprise, with all but one of last year’s high performers in the list again. Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar was the leading school last year and has a track record of seeing its students proceed well. At the other end of the scale, Mayfield Grammar in Gravesend had a disastrous year. This is demonstrated in both tables below, the school not surprisingly losing one of the highest proportion of its Year 11 pupils, with 26% not proceeding to the Sixth Form, Gravesend Grammar clearly benefitting according to the data. A similar pattern occurs in Ashford with Norton Knatchbull losing 29% of its Year 11s, and Highworth benefitting. Dover Boys, Folkestone Girls and the two Sittingbourne grammar schools also lose large numbers at the end of Year 11. These six schools are amongst the eight Kent grammars who all see the highest fall out rate at this stage. 
Kent Grammar A Level Progress: High/Low
Above Average Well Below Average
Skinners 136 0.25 B+ Mayfield 143 -0.56 C-
Cranbrook  140 0.24 C  Below Average
Queen Elizabeth's  97 0.17 B- Wilmington G 124 -0.43 C
Weald of Kent  108 0.12 B Chatham & C 241 -0.40 C-
Maidstone 155 0.12 B- Borden 103 -0.37 C
TWGGS 163 0.11 B+ Highsted 96 -0.34 C+
Average Dover Girls 100 -0.23 C+
Harvey 79 0.10 B- Folkestone Girls 104 -0.20 B-
Oakwood 155 0.08 C+ Dover Boys 78 -0.18 C
Judd 178 0.07 A- Simon Langton B 221 -0.16 B-
Highworth 230 0.07 B Invicta 153 -0.14 B-

 One school of particular interest is Invicta Grammar, at the centre of a national scandal concerning off-rolling students at the end of Year 12 in 2016 to improve standards at A Level. There were 26 students that year (15% of the total) who left or were encouraged/forced to leave at or before the end of Year 12, with the school going to town about its excellent A Level results as it regularly came at the top of league tables. For the current Year 13, this problem has completely vanished with just one student leaving over the period. Unfortunately, a consequence is that when compared with schools that followed the rules, its position in the tables has fallen sharply with Progress – Below Average for the second consecutive year.

Highest proportion of losses  for 2019 was at Barton Court , with 10% of its students leaving  in Year 12, l also highest with 13% in 2017, third highest with 9% in 2018.

I look at The Judd School outcomes below. 

Kent Non-Selective A Level Attainment Points
There are four different measures of Attainment in the table: Average Grade across each entry in a school; Average Score for each entry, scoring system explained here; proportion of students achieving AAB or higher grades in at least 2 facilitating subjects; and Grade and points for a student's best 3 A levels. each of these measures highlights a different aspect of performance, and I choose the final one as it appears to me to offer the best guide. 
I believe it is quite a remarkable fact that the top six n/s schools have achieved a higher academic standard in terms of performance than six grammar schools. It is not surprising that Bennett Memorial, highly selective through its religious criteria and regularly heavily oversubscribed. tops the list as usual, but Valley Park has surely done exceptionally well coming second with none of the same advantages. Indeed its performance score of 35.1 in A Level points is only slightly shy of Invicta Grammar with 37.9 points, Maidstone Grammar and Maidstone Grammar for Girls both with 37.6 points all in the same town, and just ahead of the fourth grammar, Oakwood Park with 33.1, the same score as Maidstone's St Simon Stock Catholic Comprehensive.

In Gravesham, students at Saint George’s CofE Comprehensive exceeded and Northfleet School for Girls achieved the same academic standard as Mayfield Grammar. Both schools achieved these results in spite of having begun their A Level course from the much lower standard of pupils who had not passed, or not taken the eleven plus, as seen by the considerably higher Progress Level. 

I consider there is little value  in looking at the lower end of the n/s table. Each school will have its own policy on what it can offer, the academic levels at which it admits students to the Sixth Form and the size and nature of vocational courses it offers alongside A Levels. Several schools have recently made the decision that they are unable to offer an effective Sixth Form on grounds of numbers, choice able to be offered, or the financial cost of running small courses, and so have closed them down.  However, Ursuline College deserves a special mention with an average A Level Grade of E+ for the 60 students who took at least one A Level and the 26 who took three, the only school in the county with an E Grade for either of the two measures let alone both, apart from Ebbsfleet Academy that only had two students taking three A Levels. 

Kent Non-Selective A Level Attainment Points
A Level
A Level
Bennett Memorial  35.6 Saint George's 29.8
Valley Park 35.1 St Gregory's 29.6
Hillview 33.8 Northfleet Girls 28.4
St Simon Stock  33.1 Homewood 27.8
Knole 33.0 Dartford Sci & Tech 26.7
Mascalls 30.8 St Anselm's 26.5
Longfield 30.3 St John's  26.3


Kent Grammar A Level Attainment

 Of those seven  schools that 'super' select most or all of their pupils at age age eleven through high Kent Test scores, just Judd (see below) and Sklnners are on the list of high performers at A Level, with Dartford and Tonbridge not counted as they take the International Baccalaureate instead of A Level. 


Kent Grammar A Level Attainment Points
A Level
A Level
Judd 47.5 Chatham & C 26.9
Skinners 44.7 Mayfield 28.4
TWGGS 43.0 Wilmington G 28.6
Cranbrook 39.7 Wilmington B 30.0
Weald 39.7 Dover Boys 30.1
Highworth 39.6 Norton Knatchbull 30.6

 TWGGS (Tunbridge Wells Girls' Grammar School), Weald of Kent and Highworth all take girls who were found selective at eleven, without regard to pass scores.

The performance of Highworth Grammar in Ashford, a girls school with mixed sixth form appearing in both grammar school lists, is particularly noteworthy, as it has none of the advantages of the five West Kent grammar schools.

The Judd School, Tonbridge
The Judd School, run by the same Foundation as Skinners, regularly appears at the top of this list, but has the highest academic requirement of entrance to its Sixth Form of any grammar school in the county (but see Dartford Grammar, see below). 
The Judd School: Sixth Form Entry Requirements
Students must have achieved a minimum average performance points* score of 6.5 (close to an A Grade) in their best 10 qualifications, or of all qualifications if fewer than 10 subjects completed. Students must additionally have completed a minimum of six GCSEs, including a 5 or better in each of Mathematics and English Language. Students additionally need to satisfy the requirements of their chosen subjects. In the event of oversubscription, the school will admit a maximum of 75 external applicants, all internal applicants being offered a place if they meet this standard. In addition, applicants will be ranked by  academic ability, measured by ranked average performance points* score in their best 10 qualifications, or of all qualifications if fewer than 10 subjects completed, the highest score being given the highest rank. Individual course requirements are for at least Grade 7 in all subjects. 

 As a result, Judd has seen the third highest increase in numbers, from Year 11 to Year 12 in the county, of 48% high performing boys and girls. This is a net increase of just 54 students, suggesting that some 21 Year 11 boys either did not qualify, or did not choose to carry on into the sixth form. The very high Entrance requirement to the Sixth Form may well have dampened the progress performance, as there is less opportunity to improve towards the ceiling, although Skinners appears to have done so. 

Second highest increase is Simon Langton Boys, a moderately performing school in A Level performance, nearly doubling in size at 93% extra pupils, many transferring across from the two local girls' grammar schools. Whilst such a pattern is not uncommon, the level of it at Simon Langton is extreme. Dartford Grammar, also pursuing high performing pupils, recruits at an academic level similar to Judd, but its oversubscription cut off is by distance from the school rather than by highest performance.  For this September it more than doubled the size of its Year 11 cohort to 305 boys and girls, but far the largest grammar school Sixth Form in the county. 

The performance of Dover Boys Grammar is particularly concerning, as it lost nearly half of its Year Eleven students who did not proceed to the Sixth Form, this Autumn, possibly as a result of having the second lowest GCSE outcomes of any Kent grammar. 





Last modified on Wednesday, 19 August 2020 19:33


  • Comment Link Monday, 03 February 2020 20:32 posted by Maidstone Primary Headteacher

    Thanks as always Peter. Independent information and comment of this quality are unique in the education world. It still seems strange that KCC employees have to rely on Kentadvice to find out what is happening in Kent schools.

  • Comment Link Monday, 03 February 2020 09:48 posted by BH

    TWGSB is conspicuous by its absence - do you have data for this school please Peter? PETER: I am afraid you have misunderstood the purpose of the article which looks both at overall performance, then at the those schools at the top, and grammar schools at the foot of the tables. There are 20 grammar school identified, which means that TWGSB is one of the 12 Kent grammars in the middle. You will find a link to the full data set in line two of the article, and a second in my Individual Schools section, Paragraph seven, which contains a current data set for each school at the time of writing, although commentary needs updating. I think these are what you are looking for.

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