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Thursday, 26 November 2020 11:31

Kent Test 2020: Initial Results and Comment

Update 28th January: Kent Test and Headteacher Assessment for Entry in September 2021: Further Analysis now published

Update: 8th December: For those interested in estimating the cut-off scores for super-selective schools, go to here. The actual results will not be known until allocation in March. 

I was interviewed on Radio Kent on Friday morning, followed by the KCC Education Cabinet Member, Richard Long who provided some additional data reproduced below.  You can find the interview here, 1 hour 37 minutes in.  

The Kent Test results have produced a pass mark with an aggregate score of 332, slightly higher than last year, with an additional requirement to score 108 on each of the three sections - English, mathematics, and reasoning. This is slightly lower than 2019’s requirement for 110 on each paper. The level of pass marks is no indication of difficulty in the Test, rather a complex standardisation of raw scores against a national sample of children, comparing like ages with each other. The intention is to select 21% of the Kent cohort by this method for automatic selection along with another four per cent by Headteacher Assessment, as explained here, making up a target of 25%. In the event this year, 25.4% of the cohort, comprising all of Kent’s Year six cohort in primary schools, added to all Kent private school pupils who took the Test, were found selective, down from last year’s 26.6%.

Although there was a fall of 522 in the number of children taking the Test overall this year, 194 additional children were found selective over the 2019 figure. This is purely due to an increase in the number of out of county passes, with 74 fewer Kent children found selective, details in the table below.  In addition, there was a worrying fall of 12% in the number of children being found selective by the HTA, with the great majority of HTA children coming from Kent.  

The Test, taken a month later than planned because of the Coronavirus pandemic, will certainly have seen a slightly different profile of children passing, as explained in previous articles here, most recently here. However, until I get more detailed data on outcomes later this year it will not be clear how different. The KCC Press Release describing the Test carefully focuses on the view of Richard Long, Cabinet Member for Education that: ‘Kent has done everything in its power to ensure that families were given a fair and safe way to apply for Kent Secondary schools this year’ referring to this fact twice, but without mentioning what KCC had done if anything to make the Kent Test as fair as possible, the subject matter of the article. In his interview, Mr Long gave data showing that, unsurprisingly, the number of children passing the test from private schools rose by 12% to 862. Also, the proportion of children on Free School Meals who took part in the Kent Test assessed as suitable for Grammar School this year rose slightly to 23%  compared to 22.8% last year. However,  without knowing the numbers of children in both years, this doesn't yet add anything to the picture.

Please note that this article was initially produced to meet the Thursday 4 p.m. deadline for the release of results and is currently being revised. I explore further all the matters in the introduction below, along with sections on Sources of Information and Advice on admissions and appeals, Out of County Children, and Pressure Points

There is considerable information and advice on admissions and appeals to Kent schools, including grammar schools specifically, on the right-hand side of this page together with links to important articles. In response to multiple enquiries each year you cannot: appeal the Kent Test Results; challenge the Head Teacher Assessment; or arrange a late HTA.  What you can do is apply for one or more grammar schools and then appeal against the decision of the schools to turn you down if your child did not pass the Kent Test. You will find the parallel article for the Medway test here

Please do not try and post comments about individual situations. This is not a forum.  I am afraid I have retired from offering individual advice.

KCC made individual test scores available to parents who registered online from shortly after 1 p.m. on Thursday 26th November. Like last year, I  shall be publishing a second article later when I receive more data from KCC. You will find initial figures released by KCC below, mainly taken from the official press release, together with further information from the Cabinet Member for Education. I find that the information articles on this website (right-hand side of this article and every page of the website), with links below, answer the majority of questions I receive. 

The proportion of Kent boys being found suitable for grammar school by the selection process has been slightly higher than that for girls in recent years; for the 2019 Test, it was 27.1% for boys and 26.2% for girls, but I don't have this year's data yet. 

Although KCC cannot guarantee every Kent child who has passed a place in a Kent grammar school (and not necessarily of their choice), there were few reported cases in recent years of grammar qualified Kent children  who were looking for a place not being offered one, the exceptions last year being the Greenhithe/Ebbsfleet area of NW Kent, and in rural Thanet, with some boys around Herne Bay and Sittingbourne also having to go to appeal. Further thoughts below. 

To my surprise, in his interview with Radio Kent,  Richard Long considered that the proportions of children bein found selective from different areas of the county, different types of school, and background such as Pupil Premium were similar to 2020, which will become clearer when I see more detailed data next month (FOI). 

Kent Test Results 2020 For Admission in 2021
  Kent Schools Out of County & Other  
  Boys Girls Total Boys Girls Total
Sat Kent Test 2020  5212  5506  10718 2515   2405  4920 15,634
HTA 2020  930  1180  2110  102  113  215 2312
HTA Upheld 2020  472  623  1100  50  72  122 1206
Assessed Suitable
For Grammar
Admission 2021
 2385  2495 4880  1588  1476 3062 7929
Sat Kent Test 2019 5991 5770 11361 2483 2312 4795 16156
HTA 2019 1041 1158 2199 124 145 269 2468
HTA Upheld 2019 550 664 1214 64 90 154 1368
Assessed Suitable
For Grammar
Admission 2020
 2588  2383 4941  1474  1494 2794 7735
Sat Kent Test 2018 5837 5465  11302  2657  2615  5712 16656
Assessed Suitable
For Grammar
Admission 2019
Some 350 additional children are eligible for a single grammar school through success in the Dover, Shepway, Mayfield (Gravesend Girls) or Highsted (Sittingbourne Girls) Tests.
Notes: (1) All missing data now added in
        (2)  'Other' includes children who are home educated. 
        (3) Some totals will be changed, as late adjustments are made.
Update on Kent Test Scores: For those interested in such matters, you can find a 2020 Results table showing the number of children attaining each score in the Kent Test here. The link also provides the same data for previous years. This enables some people to make guesses as to what the cut off aggregate score will be for the super-selective schools. I am afraid I do not take part in this exercise, so please do not ask me.  
Sources of Information and Advice
You should always speak to your primary headteacher who should have an objective view and knowledge of your local situation.

For further information, you will find Oversubscription and vacancies in Kent Grammar schools for September 2020 provides considerable information on pressure of places, as does the page on Kent Grammar School Applications for Entry in 2021. There is a series of pages on Individual Kent Secondary Schools, which also contain additional information on each school, including take-up of places, OFSTED Ratings, Examination Performance, and Appeal Statistics together with other important news, comment and information. I am afraid I am behind in updating some of these pages (look at update date in top left-hand corner), so if you would like more up recent information on a particular school, please let me know. Also try entering the name of the school you are interested in in the Website Search engine: this may provide other news, comment and information articles about that school over recent years.

I have now published an article on school appeals statistics for secondary and primary schools for entry in September 2020, with appeals data for individual schools in the Individual Schools section.  In the meantime you may wish to consult the relevant information pages for Kent Grammar School Appeals or Oversubscription Appeals, the latter for both non-selective and grammar schools,

Out Of County Children
I believe the sharp rise in the number of OOC children passing the Kent Test is a direct consequence of the coronavirus pandemic, with such families often prepared to invest heavily in tutoring, being paralleled by a sharp increase in Medway Test outcomes (where once again there are more OOC passes than those by Medway children!). However, the decisions in recent years by a number of Kent grammar schools to give priority for the large majority of their places to local children, namely, Judd, Skinners, and Wilmington Girls & Boys means there are considerably fewer opportunities for OOC children to secure places in Kent grammars. Indeed for 2020 entry the number of OOCs being allocated to Kent grammar school places remained very low at 408, similar to the 399 in 2019 but much lower than the 565 in 2018. Of these 150 OOC children were offered places at just two Kent schools, Dartford Grammar and Dartford Grammar Girls.

I suspect the overwhelming majority of those 2386 OOCs who passed the Kent Test but were not offered places in Kent grammars will have had other preferences met, including the M25 tourists, whose poor children take grammar school tests all around the ring.

Pressure Points
Kent County Council gives the number of grammar school places to be provided for September 2021 as 5550, up from 5305 last year. However this figure is misleading as there are different ways of assessing it, temporary places having been stripped out to produce the figures, although most will remain in practice. In addition, some grammar schools increase their intake further in response to demand. Basically, no one will know authoritatively until schools make final decisions in the months leading up to next March. You will find all the relevant individual secondary school statistics for 2020 entry here.  However, an indeterminate proportion of grammar qualified Kent children will not take up places in Kent grammar schools this summer, many especially in West Kent, opting for private schools and others choosing grammar schools in other Authorities. This year 154 Kent children (223 the previous year) were allocated places in grammar schools outside the county, of whom 120 were to places in Medway schools.

The main pressure areas are usually West and North West Kent and Whitstable/Herne Bay. In West Kent all Kent girls should get a grammar school place in the District, not always the one of their choice, because of the opening of the Weald of Kent annexe. The boys’ situation has eased considerably with additional places being put into all three schools and the two super-selectives, Judd and Skinners, now both giving priority for most of their places to local boys. There is always a shakedown in West Kent and some grammar qualified boys may need to go to appeal as in previous years, but all have been successful at one of the schools in previous years, to the best of my knowledge.

North West Kent continues to have the greatest pressure, caused by enormous numbers applying from London Boroughs, Dartford Grammar turning away 409 grammar qualified first choices last year (and rising year on year, up from 336 in 2019) and, along with the girls rejecting local applicants whose pass scores were not high enough (disgracefully and contrary to promises made to the Schools Adjudicator when he approved their new arrangements). However, the two Wilmington Grammars now give priority mainly to Kent children and although they have increased greatly in popularity should pick up all local children who have qualified and choose them, as the number of out of county siblings continues to fall. Last year there was a specific problem for boys and girls in the Greenhithe/Ebbsfleet area, but in the end, I believe that all who wished secured places at one of the Gravesend grammars or at Wilmington. 

Whitstable/Herne Bay has been difficult for boys, with no local grammar school and extensive building development in the area, and from 2019 Simon Langton Boys has increased its number of places by 30 to 150 which appeared to eliminate the problem for 2019 entry, but it returned in 2020. There is not a problem in capacity for girls in the city as Simon Langton Girls always has vacancies, although this may change with the new premises being built. 

There was a particular and unexpected problem in Thanet for 2020 entry, as explained here, and also for boys in Sittingbourne. It is not clear if appeals outcomes resolved the problems.

 In other areas the situation can be fluid, and the 5550 places will certainly expand further, with temporary increases in some schools as schools measure demand and capacity.

There will always be horror stories about pressure on grammar school places -they make good media copy, especially with proposals to expand grammar school places (but expansion has been happening for years without legislation and will no doubt continue). The reality is that six of the 32 Kent grammar schools had vacancies last March on allocation for the second year running, spread across the county apart from the West and NW, although most of these will have been filled after appeal, along with additional places found in other grammar schools.

Whatever your situation, I wish you all the best in securing a place at the school of your choice. I am conscious that having to make decisions before Test outcomes are known will have been especially stressful, but the increase to six choices should have resolved most problems. As regards my concerns over fairness for  'children of ordinary families' and Pupil Premium children, these will remain unresolved until the full data is made available.  

Last modified on Monday, 10 January 2022 19:27


  • Comment Link Monday, 07 December 2020 14:42 posted by Mrs S

    What do you think the cut off scores for Judd will be this year (IC), do you think they will change by much compared with last year? I have a son with a 391 result. PETER: I am afraid I don't speculate on such matters. as there is no such thing as inside knowledge. Others may choose to do so for fun!

  • Comment Link Monday, 07 December 2020 05:37 posted by PETER: Website Author

    From PETER: My apologies but I accidentally pressed the delete button and cancelled all comments between 27th November and 7th December. If they do not refer to out of county enquiries for NW Kent grammar schools, please feel free to comment again.

  • Comment Link Sunday, 06 December 2020 21:37 posted by George

    Dear Sir,
    What was the last year cut off score for wilmington Grmmar school for Girls for Year7 admissions ? PETER: Presumably you are out of county, otherwise the answer would be obvious.

  • Comment Link Sunday, 06 December 2020 15:10 posted by Raj

    Dear sir
    What is the last year occ score for Wilmington boys school please PETER: Sorry I don't comment on out of county matters.

  • Comment Link Thursday, 26 November 2020 16:12 posted by AIC

    Excellent commentary as always. Thank you.

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