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Friday, 19 November 2021 16:42

Sixth Form Courses in Kent and Medway Schools 2021


This is an update of an article I previously published last December, following a survey of admission to the Sixth Forms and the largest non-selective school Sixth Forms, which has already been visited nearly six thousand times. I am republishing it as a support for students and their families looking for a Sixth Form course in school in 2022. This edition includes more information and details of further schools who ran larger Sixth Forms in 2020 (I don't have the 2021 information  yet). 

There appears limited advice and information to many Year 11 students on what their Sixth Form options are outside their own school, so a year ago I carried out an extensive analysis, looking at all 38 grammar schools across Kent and Medway and those 37 non-selective (N/S) schools running 6th Forms with an intake of over eighty students in 2019. This article is an update, including looking at nine more N/S schools that met my cut off according to the October 2020 school census. Somewhat to my surprise, I discovered that over a quarter of 6th form students in both grammar and N/S schools were in different schools for Year 11, with a healthy 15% of the total 6th Form numbers in grammars having transferred from N/S schools.  There is no co-ordinated admission system for 6th Form admission, so students can apply for as many schools as they wish. Whilst the number of external students to be admitted is theoretically capped, individual schools interpret this limitation in different ways, with many never reaching the limit. 

I believe this study is unique but is intended to encourage more young people to reflect and make a decision about what is best for them, rather than just carry on in the same school without making a positive decision, although this will still be right for most. 

The school with by some way the largest 6th Form intake from outside is the non-selective (N/S) Canterbury Academy admitting 294 students from other schools, including 46 from grammar and private schools and 63 from abroad. It is followed in percentage terms by Simon Langton Boys Grammar, also in Canterbury with 160 external students including 86 from other grammar schools.

I look at some of the issues below, including a look across the county by District, what I have long maintained are unlawful conditional offers for entry to school 6th Forms, and the sadly most newsworthy school of all, the debacle at The Rochester Grammar School. I am afraid I am not able look at the wide range of alternative options, the free KM magazine The Next Step covering many of the possibilities. 

I have not repeated the exercise of writing to schools again this year, as I appreciated their support last time at an incredibly pressured time for them, with all the Covid factors affecting their operations and I don't wish to abuse this. 

Since my previous round up, I have published GCSE in Kent and Medway; 2021 and the Sixth Form in August, and updated my information article on Sixth Form Admissions and Appeals which also contains considerable advice. Four years ago I carried out my first  survey of the movement of students between some schools to take up 6th Form courses. I have also written an extensive article for The Next Step, entitled 'Doing the Right Thing', updated on Page 17 of the 2021 edition

Overall, there were 6301 students taking up places in Kent and Medway grammar schools in September 2020, over a quarter from other schools including 971 from N/S and private schools.  My selection of the N/S schools with the largest 6th Forms has 4407 Year 12 students between them, again over a quarter from elsewhere, including 315 from grammar and private schools. Whereas grammar schools will in general offer A-Level courses (apart from four which run the International Baccalaureate (IB) instead), N/S schools may offer a mixture of A-Level, and vocational courses, the latter across one or two years. This study primarily looks at A-Level courses. Overall, 62% of Year 11 Kent students have transferred into the school Sixth Forms in both the previous two years, along with 57% of Medway students. There are eight additional schools that crossed the 80 students threshold this year, which I have built into the narrative: John Wallis CofE, Knole, Mascalls, Northfleet Technology, Oasis Isle of Sheppey, St John Fisher (Medway),Skinners Kent, Towers, and Wrotham.   

In addition, there is a large Further Education (FE) sector mainly delivering vocational courses delivered through four colleges in Kent and Medway, although the Hadlow/West Kent group has had a major management failure and is now being broken up and redistributed across the other colleges. It is currently the only college that offers A-Level, but of course, this may now go. I am afraid I have neither the expertise nor the time to explore this important group of institutions.

Choice of Subject
For many students it may be helpful to consider A Level as a link between compulsory education and the next stage, probably university, vocational training at college or employment. Choice of subjects should probably be strongly influenced by your career plans if these are known, as well as your relative strength in different subjects. It is not for me to offer individual advice, but ask the careers teacher at your school and explore individual routes, such as the online Uni Guide, based on material provided by the independent Which? organisation. This also contains a two way tool to enable you both to see which A Levels are generally suitable for particular degree courses and which courses follow on from your potential choice of subjects. 


The outcomes for a school after two years in the Sixth Form, should be an important factor in choice of Sixth Form. Unfortunately, one of the many Covid consequences is that A Level (and GCSE) results were not published in 2020 and won't be again in 2021. You will find the 2019 outcomes for Kent and Medway A Level performance via the links. I have set the version of these to read what I regard as probably the most important measure, Progress from GCSE, headed by, in order: Valley Park and Herne Bay (Well Above Average). Then: Skinners, Homewood, St Simon Stock, Cranbrook, St Anselm's, Knole, Queen Elizabeth's, Hillview, Weald of Kent, Maidstone, Tunbridge Wells Girls (all Above Average). There are no Medway schools on this list. I would then look at the final column which shows the number of pupils taking three or more A Levels with for example, a schools such as Knole with just 20 three A Level students surely unable to offer a full range of subjects. I don't take these into account when looking at individual schools below, so I advise potential students to check these out. You will also find a comparison of performance at non-selective schools here, which focuses on the number of students taking A Level in each school.
You will find an extensive article in my Information Section entitled 6th Form Admissions and Appeals – Kent Independent Education Advice which is exactly what it says, and is well worth reading. I have also updated this with a news article in August 2020: Coronavirus: 2020 GCSE Fiasco outcomes and Kent and Medway 6th Form Courses which contains much additional advice, and am not repeating the content here as this article has a different focus.
District Analysis
This section looks more closely at each of the schools that meet the criteria  of 80 Year 12 students, by area.
East Kent                Mid Kent
The next page looks at Movement between and into Grammar Schools in the Sixth Form
It is followed by pages on Movement between and from Non-Selective Schools in the Sixth Form and then the individual area surveys via the links immediately above. 

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Last modified on Wednesday, 29 December 2021 02:45

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