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Sunday, 14 June 2020 06:58

Grammar Schools and Pupil Premium Children

The Campaigning website Comprehensive Future has criticised a single phrase in the last section below in a dedicated article here. Whilst hardly groundbreaking, I do not accept the criticism which is based on an inept and complete misreading of their own dodgy data and have responded here.  
There are considerable concerns over the opportunities for disadvantaged pupils in this year’s grammar school selection process, whatever form this takes. Nationally and in Kent and Medway there is remarkable consistency over the statistics for the last four years. The national percentage for Pupil Premium children in Year Seven of grammar schools is 8% of the total in each of January 2017-2019, with Kent being 9% overall(10% in 2019) and Medway 12% falling to 11% in 2019.
The four Kent grammar schools with the highest proportion of PP children currently in Year Seven, are those in Dover and Folkestone that offer local tests as an additional route of entry to grammar school. These are Dover Boys (22%); Dover Girls (20%); Folkestone Girls and Harvey both 19%. Lowest are Tonbridge (2%); Judd, Skinners, and Tunbridge Wells Girls, all with 3% PP. Highest in Medway in January 2019 were Chatham, Holcombe, and Fort Pitt, all with 15%. Lowest were Rainham Mark and Rochester (see below) with 8%.  Further details below.
There is therefore a huge responsibility on Local Authorities, whatever selection method is finally agreed on, to ensure that these percentages are at least maintained.
Gavin Williamson, Secretary of State for Education is quoted as saying:  "We’re going to be looking at working with local authorities who have grammar school systems in their area as to how best we can ensure that children from the most disadvantaged backgrounds are not disadvantaged as they look at taking the 11-plus in the future.” I look forward as do many others to seeing how this is to be secured.
I am hugely disappointed that the initiative by KCC to improve the proportion of disadvantaged pupils to be admitted to grammar school has all but vanished in terms of delivery, although changes in admission policies by many grammar schools should have seen an improvement which hopefully will accelerate in future years. My previous article on the matter, written four years ago identified three key strategies on top of this although there is no evidence for the first two of these having been turned into practice.
The third has only an indirect effect but is important for Kent children in any case. This is the encouragement by KCC to make a higher proportion of grammar places available for Kent pupils along the West side of the county. This has seen Judd, Skinners and the two Wilmington grammars make considerable changes in their admission criteria to give priority for Kent pupils.
You will find below tables for the Kent and Medway grammar schools, with highest and lowest proportions of Pupil Premium (PP) children, definition here, and a note on the national grammar school picture here.
Kent Grammar Schools
The Folkestone and Dover grammar schools are joined by Highsted in Swale, which also runs its own Local Test and the two grammar schools in Thanet. Whilst Thanet is the socially most deprived District in Kent, Dover, Folkestone and Swale come next. The other school in this group is Simon Langton Girls (SLGSG) with 27 PP girls in Year Seven. I am not clear why, but this is a great leap from previous years. In Year 11 there are eight PP girls; Year 10, twelve; Year 9, seventeen and in Year 8, sixteen. SLGSG has for many years been at the top of both the Headteacher Assessment table and the successful Appeals table, and it may well be that the headteachers in the first and the Appeal panellists in the second have taken note of the encouragement to pass PP children. It is noticeable that the HTA Panel for East Kent covers all these schools, as well as Simon Langton Boys, which is not far behind at 11% PP boys in Year Seven, a total of 18, but an even greater leap from 9,6,10 and 6 in the four previous years.
There are no surprises at the foot of the table with all of the seven schools being in West Kent, by some way the most prosperous District in or North West Kent where the three schools between them admit nearly half of all out of county children in the county’s grammar schools, and so less likely to be socially disadvantaged. Five of them are super selective, with the two Dartford grammars actively chasing the brightest pupils form SE London and also from Dartford, as a result perhaps unlikely to attract socially disadvantaged pupils; hence the fall in proportions this year, by some way the largest in Kent (but see note below table following).  
Kent Pupil Premium Children Oct 2019 Grammar Schools Census, Highest and Lowest Percentages*
  Year  7 Year 7% Yr 7-11% (1) Diff % (2)
Dover Girls  31 22% 19% 3
Dover Boys  27 20%  22% -2
Folkestone Girls 36 19% 15% 4
Harvey  29  19%  17% 2
Dane Court 33 18% 17%  1
Highsted 27  17%  14% (3) 3
Chatham & Clar 31 16%  17% -1
Simon Langton G 27 15% 9% 6
++++++++++++++++++++ +++++++++ ++++++++++ ++++++++++++ ++++++
Dartford Girls* 11 6% 13% -7
Wilmington Girls 7 5% 8% -3
Dartford  8 4% 9% -5
Judd 5 3% 1% (3) 2
Skinners 3%  4% (3) -1
TWGGS 4 3% 4% -1
Tonbridge 3 2% 2% 0
* Dartford Girls has disputed this figure insisting that the correct figures are 34 girls and 18% which to be fair is consistent with previous years. If so, the KCC census figure is wrong, which is worrying and I believe DGSG is following this up with them.
Notes: (1) Derived as a percentage by adding the number of PP children in Years 7-11, dividing by five and expressing the result as a percentage  of the Planned Admission Number
(2) The difference between the previous two percentage figures is an indication of the change over the past five years
(3) These figures should be slightly higher as for the earlier years, the intake was smaller.
 Medway Grammar Schools
Half of the Medway grammar schools have 15% of their year Seven pupils attracting Pupil Premium, then there is a large gap to the other three. The ‘difference’ statistic shows there is little awareness of the imperative to maximise numbers of PP children with four schools attracting fewer than in the previous two years. There are no concessions through the Medway selection process, with the Review process for the same year finding just four children of grammar school ability out of 202 applicants, or 0.12% against a target of 2%. Unlike the Kent HTA there is no opportunity to make allowance for social disadvantage.

 The biggest question mark is over The Rochester Grammar School, currently with the lowest percentage PP in Year Seven over the most recent three year period, super selective, with a reputation for working well with bright conformist girls. Government considered it appropriate to award it several million pounds in funding for an artificial expansion, on condition that it moved to awarding the majority of its places to the girls living locally, who had passed the Medway Test, no matter what their scores. Presumably this was on the basis that the most good could be done by such a dramatic change of intake, although whether the culture is also capable of making the break with the past remains to be seen. In the event, 83 of the school’s 235 places were awarded to out of Medway girls for the coming September, almost the same proportion as in 2019, presumably because of a high number of siblings.

Medway Pupil Premium Children Oct 2019 Schools
Census Highest and Lowest Percentages
  Year  7 Year 7%(1) Yr 7-9%(2) Diff %
Chatham Girls 18 15% 16% -1
Fort Pitt 18 15% 16% -1
Holcombe 22 15% 14% 1
Rainham Mark 19 8% 9% -1
Rochester 17 8% 8% 0
Sir Joseph Williamson's 19 9% 10% -1
Notes: (1) Derived as a percentage by adding the number of PP children in Year 7 over the past three years, dividing by three and expressing the result as a percentage  of the Planned Admission Number
(2) The difference between the previous two percentage figures is an indication of the change over the past three years
National Figures
Whilst I obtained the KCC grammar school data for October 2019 and before some time ago through FOI, the national data including that for Medway was gained for January 2019 and the two previous years by an FOI from a representative of Comprehensive Future (CF), although demonstrating the falsehood of a previous claim by them, link here. You will find the full set of data here, although I have added a further set of columns showing the percentage of PP children offered places in every grammar school.

These show a remarkably consistent percentage of 8% of PP children in Year Seven in each of the 163 grammar schools across the three years 2017-2019, below that for both Kent and Medway. There is just one zero entry across the three years, (excluding Cranbrook School which had no Year Seven in the relevant years) contrary to the wild CF claim of 22 in one year.

For the most recent year available (January 2019 data), most striking are the five King Edward grammar schools in Birmingham which have a very active policy of admitting children with Pupil premium, all five admitting over 20% in 2019. That same year 27% of all pupils were eligible for Pupil Premium (secondary schools will be a little lower). So King Edward VI Aston School admitted 29% PP children, above the national average for all schools.

With regard to comparisons with all children, the best figure would be to take that for PP children scoring highly in the national KS2 tests, who might be considered eligible for grammar school. The only figure I can find is for Kent grammar schools in 2016, where 57% of these pupils are attending grammar school, as compared with 79% of non-disadvantaged pupils. This suggest the Kent procedures are not bad for the aim of treating PP children fairly, although there is room for improvement. Wild comparisons with ALL children are completely invalid.




Last modified on Thursday, 04 March 2021 13:58

1 comment

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 16 June 2020 16:23 posted by Sorrel

    Since 2019 entry Skinners' has 12 places for Pupil Premium children who have a pass (no need to score 360), so it's interesting there are only 4. Two are for out of area children, and train fares cost a lot, but does show there must be either few PP children passing locally, or they are put off applying/ not aware of the provision? It's such a great school. PETER: A great school indeed, but can be very intimidating. Perhaps they need to promote themselves out to the target audience.. It can be done. The King Edward VI grammars in Birmingham are a fine example

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