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Tuesday, 19 May 2020 18:55

The Kent 11 Plus and Coronavirus: Part Two

Index

Is the Kent Test Necessary?
The radical alternative would be to replace the Kent Test by another method of assessment for this year only, or provide an additional feature to give balance. As an aside, over 60 years ago when I took the Kent Test, grammar school places were awarded after the test by each primary school being allocated a number according to the performance of their children. The headteacher would then award the individual places to those children they considered most suitable. It would need further regulation, but a scheme somewhere between this and the temporary GCSE/A Level process may be workable, although open to legal challenge to such an extent it is unlikely to be introduced.  
 
What follows is my own possible solution of  the problem. Assuming the rules can be ignored, I can see something like the following possibly working for Kent schools and children. Average the number of pupils who were assessed selective over the past three years, including HTAs. Ask headteachers of primary schools to rank pupils according to internal assessments, possibly using some method recommended by KCC. Then match the two. No Headteacher Assessment. This also protects disadvantaged pupils to some extent as they will be recruited in the same proportions. It could also work for Kent private schools. The big problem this leaves is for out of county children. I don't see an immediate solution, except ask those grammar schools who made offers to ooc pupils for 2019 to recruit them by their own method in the same proportions. Whether a solution such as this or another is used it would indeed be rough justice and opened to considerable legal challenge.   
 
The bottom line is that grammar schools are here for this year and the future. Somehow for 2021 around 25% of the Kent pupil cohort needs to be identified to take advantage of the specialist teaching that grammar schools  provide. Coronavirus has introduced great unfairness across society, and in one sense this is just  another. However, it would be a great tragedy for many individual children.
 
Final Thought
I remain bemused as to why Year Six is given a priority to return to school for its final six weeks in primary school  at the expense of Year Five, or other alternative arrangements that have been suggested. Year Five pupils will have missed at least four months of school time and will have severely damaged continuity for the Year Six curriculum as well in as their run up to SATs and, for a minority, the eleven plus. I do also feel very sorry for Year Six children as I do every pupil who has lost much of their education with unpredictable consequences. However, even if they do return to school in June, it will take time for them to settle back in the short period before they leave again for secondary school, with a curriculum and culture break anyway. What they will do is to have the opportunity to say goodbye, which is important, but in the scale of loss, far less than is happening for Year Five.  
Pupil Premium: Definition 
 Pupil Premium is an annual sum of money paid to schools by government to support the attainment of their disadvantaged pupils. When a school is inspected by Ofsted, it will examine how this money is being spent by schools.
 
Schools receive £1,320 for every primary age pupil, or £955 for every secondary age pupil, who claims free school meals, or who has claimed free school meals in the last 6 years.

Schools get £2,345 for every pupil who has left local authority care through adoption, a special guardianship order or child arrangements order. Local authorities get the same amount for each child they are looking after; they must work with the school to decide how the money is used to support the child’s Personal Education Plan.

 There is also a Service Premium which is different from Pupil Premium as it has different conditions attached to it. Schools get £310 annually for every pupil with a parent who: is serving in HM Forces; or who has retired on a pension from the Ministry of Defence. This funding is to help with pastoral support.

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