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Wednesday, 20 October 2021 06:00

Kent Test 2021: Initial Results, Comment and Advice


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 2021 provides considerable information on pressure of places, as does the page on Kent Grammar School Applications for Entry in 2022. 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 many of these pages (look at update date in top left-hand corner), but the data is current, 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 published an article on school appeals statistics for secondary and primary schools for entry in September 2020 last year, with the 2021 article due shortly, with appeals data for individual schools for 2021 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
There was a sharp rise in the number of OOC children passing the Kent Test last year, I believe as 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!). This has been maintained for 2021. 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. So, whilst the number of OOCs being allocated to Kent grammar school places in 2021 remained low at 460, it was higher than for the two previous years but much lower than the 565 in 2018. For the second year running, 150 OOC children were offered places at just two Kent schools, Dartford Grammar and Dartford Grammar Girls.

I suspect the overwhelming majority of those 2602 OOCs who passed the Kent Test in 2020 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. Whilst not directly relevant, the cost to KCC to manage the Test procedure for these children will have been enormous, given the additional demands of Covid on managing the multiple centres needing to be provided across the county for testing. 

Pressure Points
Kent County Council gives the number of grammar school places to be provided for September 2022 as 5592, down from 5724 (given as 5550 in the press release) 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 143 Kent children (154 the previous year) were allocated places in grammar schools outside the county, of whom 107 were to places in Medway grammars.

The considerable pressure area across the West of the county was resolved three years ago for girls by the opening of the Weald of Kent annexe in Sevenoaks, which is joined next September for one for boys on the adjacent site, the two creating an additional 180 places. The likely increase in bias towards West Kent children being found selective may cause some problems, but I anticipate that all qualified children will find a place if one of these two schools is on their application form.

North West Kent continues to have the greatest pressure, caused by enormous numbers applying from London Boroughs, Dartford Grammar turning away 355 grammar qualified first choices last year (although down from the record 409 of 2020) 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, most but not all of those who wished secured places at one of the Gravesend grammars or at Wilmington. If Dartford children did not pass the initial Kent selection procedure, chances of a place at appeal for any of the four local grammars are negligible, with 10 successful appeals between them, just one of whom had not been found selective initially.  

Elsewhere, there were just four grammar schools oversubscribed: Simon Langton Boys (46 first choices turned away); Queen Elizabeth’s (18); Invicta (12) and Harvey (10, although admitting an additional 52 boys through the local test).  For the first two there have been problems for boys in the past (but in 2021 as Barton Court in Canterbury had vacancies). This year there is likely to be a solution at Borden Grammar in Sittingbourne, but as so often it comes with a warning - an appeal to QE is likely to stand less chance of success as the Appeal Panel may consider that as you have an alternative there is no need to make an additional place available! For the last two named, there are usually alternatives with vacancies not far away in Maidstone and Dover or Ashford respectively.

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 13 of the 32 Kent grammar schools had vacancies last March on allocation spread across East and Mid Kent although most of these will have been filled after appeals, with the highest proportion being Sir Roger Manwoods, that upheld 26 of its 28 appeals in an effort to plug the gap.

Whatever your situation, I wish you all the best in securing a place at the school of your choice. As regards my concerns over fairness for  'children of ordinary families' and Pupil Premium children, these were sadly justified last year, and I see no reason to change my view this time around.

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Last modified on Tuesday, 02 November 2021 06:42


  • Comment Link Wednesday, 27 October 2021 10:19 posted by azik

    Hi Peter,

    Thank you for the breakdown.

    In the official data set they put kids into just two buckets (apart from gender), these are:
    - Kent Mainstream
    - OOC/Kent Independent/Miscellaneous

    Could you please tell how did you deduct Kent Private values? PETER: My first table in the latest revision above gives data for all Kent schools (including private) from press release. I deduct one from the other. The tables will not be quite accurate yet, as there will be late data, and Home Educators to feed in..
    I am awaiting results of a more detailed FOI, which I will publish on receipt.

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 26 October 2021 14:38 posted by azik

    Data's been released.> PETER: Thank you. I am currently incorporating this into my article.

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