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Friday, 28 February 2020 07:17

Kent Test for Entry in September 2020: Further Analysis

You will find the parallel Medway Test article here

This article follows on from my previous: Kent Test 2019; Initial Results and Comment, published in October. The main change since last year is that that the marks required for a pass in the Test have been raised, requiring candidates to score 110 marks on each of the three sections - English, mathematics, and reasoning – along with an aggregate score across the three sections of at least 330 . Please note that the change remains as always to simply aim for 21% of the age cohort in Kent schools to be successful. In no way does it suggest the Test was more difficult so any attempt to argue this at an appeal for a grammar school place will be unsuccessful. 

Headlines are:
  • The proportion of passes for Kent school children has risen from 25.7% to 26.6%, made up of 20.1% automatic passes with a further 6.5% Head Teacher Assessment (almost a quarter of the total).
  • Boys are well ahead on automatic test passes for the first time since the Test was changed in 2014, at 21.3% passes for boys to 18.9% for girls, and also in total.
  • Girls are well ahead in Head Teacher Assessments, (HTA)s, with 7.3% of all girls being found selective by this route, as against 5.8% of boys.
  • Unsurprisingly, Tunbridge Wells and Sevenoaks have the highest proportion of passes, followed this year by Dartford and then Canterbury.   
  • As in previous years, the highest proportion of HTA success is in Canterbury, with 10% of the cohort for both boys and girls bring found selective, along with girls in Swale.  but going  on last year’s pattern, only around 15% of whom will apply and be offered places in Kent grammars.
  • For the first time in many years there is a fall in the number of out of county Children taking the Kent Test, and a parallel fall of 8.5% in the number being found selective, to 2,768.:

 For more detail on each of these items, see below. 

 This article expands my initial look at the 2019 Kent Test results, written in October, which should be read in conjunction and contains links to many relevant items, and comments on related issues, notably pressure on grammar school places across the county. . The figures do not match exactly, as adjustments and late tests have produced changes. You will find the 2018 parallel article here

Please note that I don't have data for high performing individual schools this year as KCC is hyper-sensitive about possible identification of individuals. Information on Pupil Premium children in grammar schools will be published next month as will details of allocations to individual schools.  

I will be publishing data in a few weeks relating to the local Tests which offer an alternative route to the four grammar schools in  Dover and Folkestone, together with Highsted and Mayfield grammars. It will also cover allocations to individual secondary schools. You will find further information and copious data on every Individual Kent secondary school here.   

Pass Mark and Overall Selection Rate
The main change since last year is that that the marks required for a pass in the Test have been raised, requiring candidates to score a nationally standardised  score of 110 marks on each of the three sections - English, mathematics, and reasoning – along with an aggregate score across the three sections of at least 330 . Please note that the change remains as always to simply aim for 21% of the age cohort in Kent schools to be successful, although the final outcome was 20.1%, up from last year's 19.1%. In no way does it suggest the Test was more difficult so any attempt to argue this at an appeal for a grammar school place will be unsuccessful. Additional children are found selective by the process of Headteacher Assessment (HTA) described here and below. The target here is 4%, but for 2019 the outcome was 6.5%, the two scores adding up to 26.6% of the peer group, above the 25% target. Last year it was 25.2%, so there are potentially around an additional 300 grammar qualified pupils from Kent state or private schools, looking for Kent grammar school places.   

The pass 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 vary according to demand each year, and are reported  will be reported next week in my initial secondary allocations article.  Further places are awarded at the six schools which run local tests and can also be awarded to individual schools by the appeal process. My article on Appeals reports on 2019 outcomes, alongside the Individual Schools section which gives 2019 appeal data for every secondary school that held appeals.  

Kent Grammar School Assessments 2019
for Admission in September 2020*
  2019 2018
Total %
Year Six Kent Population*
9432 9127 18559
Number who sat test
11302 62%
Automatic Pass
3445 19.1%
Headteacher Assessment (HTA)
2123 11.2%
HTA Passes 550 664 1214 5.8%  7.3%  6.5%  1157 6.4%
Total Kent  Passes
4602 25.4
Out of County Tested
2483  2312  4795 52%   48% 5272  
Out of County Automatic Pass
1410  1204 
57%   52%  55% 2926 56%
OOC Headteacher Assessment
124  145  269 5%   6%
216 4%
64  90  154 3%   4%
139 3%
Total OOC Passes 1474   1294 2768 59%   56% 58% 3025 58%
 * Number of pupils in state school Year 6  cohort, together with those in Kent private schools taking the Kent Test. Unfortunately, I don't have data for the highest performing primary schools by this measure, as in previous years as KCC continues to tighten up on its interpretation of FOI Legislation. However, you can find the parallel information for the 2018 Test here.  
One oddity is that two of the small political groups opposed to selection at eleven argue both that the process is flawed because it is based on a one off test, and also and in contradiction that it is flawed because so many children are offered places who did not pass the Test (i.e by HTA and Admission Appeal) ! 
District Variation in Passes
In 2019, 415 children were offered Kent grammar school places through success in a local Test only, mainly in Dover and Shepway, more than doubling the number of children offered grammar places through the Kent Test in those districts. Is this providing more opportunities in areas of social deprivation, or damaging local non-selective schools, or both?

The table below shows the pattern of success in the Kent Test and by HTA across Kent’s 14 Districts, for children in state schools, as well as highlighting variation in the success rate of boys and girls.  

District Performance for Kent Test 2019
  B G T B G T B G T
Sevenoaks 27 26 27 4 6 5 32 32 32
28 26 27 2 5 4 31 31 31
Dartford 24 24 24 3 6 5 28 31 29
& Malling 
22 22 22 4 5 5 27 27 27
Maidstone 21 18 19 6 7 7 27 25 26
Gravesham 19          16 18 5 8 7 24 24 24
Thanet 14 14 14 9 9 9 21 15 23
Swale 16 11 14 6 10 8 23 21 22
Ashford 17 16 17 5 6 5 22 23 22
Dover 14 10 12 8 9 8  21 19 20
& Hythe
17 11  14  4  4 21  15 18 
Total 20 18   19 6  7  6 25  25  25

 It is unsurprising to see to see Sevenoaks and Tunbridge Wells children at the top of the table, Canterbury being in fourth place by virtue of its traditional high proportion of HTA places.  Other than that, the only surprising outcome, outside socio-economic links to position in the tables, is Dartford with its strong proportion of high performing state primary schools.

At the foot of the table (leaving out Ashford for the moment) come Dover, Folkestone & Hythe, Gravesham and Swale. The alternative locals test for the Dover and Folkestone grammar schools, together with Highsted Grammar in Sittingbourne and Mayfield Grammar n Gravesham (both girls) will have considerably inflated the figures of children in these Districts found suitable for grammar school.

The Thanet figure of 23% is a considerable rise from 2018's 19%, made up of the second lowest Test pass % combined with the second highest HTA rate.  

This year 10.8% of all Kent automatic passes have gone to children in the private sector, down again from the previous three years, but just 4.7% of the upheld HTAs, resulting in overall 9.2% of selective assessments for Kent children being for those at private schools. The data calculations can only consider those children who took the Test, so the total numbers in each school year group for private schools are not known. However, a considerable proportion of these successes will not take up grammar school places, preferring to remain private.

Local Tests

Apart from The Harvey Grammar School and Folkestone School for Girls, which offer the same test, each sets its own test, along with the  pass standard. Both the Folkestone and Dover Tests take place on the same day, inhibiting dual applications.  

Kent Grammar School Offers by Local Test 2019
Kent Selection
Process Offers
Local Test
% of Offers
by Local Test
Successful  Admission
Dover Boys 138 101 73% 4
Dover Girls 140 84 60% 5
Folkestone 180 104 58% 9
Harvey 150 62 41% 5
Highsted 138 29 45% 19
Mayfield 180 35 19% 16

Three of the schools offered over half of their places in 2019 to children who did not qualified by the Kent selection process. For the Dover and Folkestone schools, and Folkestone Girls, the Local Test mops up  the large majority of successful entrants, with appeal rates low, but the high proportion of Highsted admission appeals upheld takes the proportion of girls offered places at the school, who have not qualified by the Kent process to over 50%  

Head Teacher Assessments (HTA)
You will find full details of the process hereThe HTA takes into account headteacher's recommendation, child's performance in class and in standardised tests, together with any special circumstances, success depending on satisfying a Panel of Headteachers that the child is of grammar school ability. Schools choose how many and which children to put forward for the HTA in a process which is supposed to remain confidential (and is broadly in state schools) with a variety of different approaches to identifying who should be put forward. Some, including some Catholic schools, choose not to take part in the process.  
Head Teacher Assessments 2019










HTAs Considered
East  Kent  513 553 1066 48% 52%  
Mid Kent 338 338 676 50% 50%
NW Kent  190 261 451 42% 58%
West Kent  123 148 271 45% 55%
Total 1164 1300 2464 47% 53%
 HTAs Upheld
East  Kent  311 338 649 61% 61%  61%
Mid Kent 153 172 325 45% 51%  48%
NW Kent  107 169 276 56% 65%  61%
West Kent 43 75 118  35%  51%  44%
Total 614 754 1368 53%  58%  56%
The Canterbury secret of a high pass rate in the selection process lies in the proportion of children who have been found selective on the HTA, at 10%, or nearly 40% of the total passes (and down from last year), much higher than any other district. 
Most automatic passes follow socio-economic patterns across the county, but the influence of HTAs is quite different, perhaps reflecting local pressures. The table below shows outcomes of the four Headteacher Assessment Panels, that operate geographically across the county. It is likely that the NW Kent Panel will have a high proportion of out of county HTAs referred to it, which may be a factor in the high figure.Note: HTAs for out of county pupils will be considered by the most appropriate Panel, usually West or North West   

Out of County Passes
 The number of Out of County children tested and the number of passes have both fallen this year, with four grammar schools having re-prioritised to give preference to Kent children. Some of the out of county applications occur due to what has been called 11 plus tourism, as too many London families apply to grammar schools around the M25 belt (Dartford and Enfield?), and also the North West Kent grammars being 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 and Skinner’s super selective grammars to favour Kent children is further inhibiting supply of places for out of county children, but certainly not demand. For 2019 admissions, of the 3065 (2735 in 2017) ooc Kent Test passes in October 2018, just 399 children (down from 454 in 2017) were offered grammar places in March last year, 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 more than 100
Out of County Assessments for Kent Test 2019
Grammar Places
in 2019*
Bexley 1074 603 77
Greenwich 760 377 41
Bromley 752 511 53
Medway 628 320 15
Lewisham  328 183 25
Thurrock 171 91 10
East Sussex 144 90 53
Barking & Dagenham 143 82 18
Southwark 111 58 5 or less
Newham  107 58 6
 * Note: I only have data for individual schools or Local Authorities where numbers are greater than five. Where precise numbers are quoted in this table, totals exclude grammar schools where there are fewer than six pupils allocated. 
For the 2018 Test just 70 Children in Southwark schools were tested, of whom 40 were were found selective, the only LA in the table showing an increase on 2018, with both Redbridge (45 Tested), and Havering (61 tested) falling out of it. 




Last modified on Monday, 06 December 2021 09:50

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