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Tuesday, 15 November 2016 07:14

Further analysis of Kent test results for Admission September 2017

I have now had further opportunity to look at data relating to the recent Kent Test outcomes for Admission in September 2017, with a summary of the statistics below.  This article expands my initial lookat the 2016 Kent Test results, written in October, which should be read in conjunction with the article. The figures do not match exactly, as adjustments and late tests have produced changes.
Headlines are:
  • A fall in the proportion of Kent children taking the Kent Test from 64% to 60%, and a 9% fall in the number of children put forward for Headteacher Assessments (HTA).
  • Girls are still ahead on both automatic test passes since the Test was changed in 2014, and also in HTAs, but the gaps have narrowed.
  • As in previous years, the highest proportion of HTA success is in East Kent, the lowest in West Kent.
  • The fall in HTA successes has resulted in an overall fall in success from 26.1% to 25.7%, nearer the target of 25%.
  • There is an increase in the proportion of children on Pupil Premium found selective to 9.1% of the Kent state school total passes,brought about through headteachers recognising ability in the HTA, where coaching is irrelevant.

amherst       Ethelbert Road

  • Schools with the highest proportion of Kent successes are split between East and West: Amherst Junior (Sevenoaks); Ethelbert Road (Faversham); Ramsgate Holy Trinity CofE; and Claremont (Tunbridge Wells). 
  • Another leap in Out of County Passes, around 80% of whom will not take up places.  

For more details see below:

Pass Mark
The pass mark level comprises, for the third year running, a nationally standardised score of 106 in each of English, Maths and Reasoning (together with an aggregate score of at least 320). This standard is set to select approximately 21% of Kent resident children (given the large numbers it is difficult to hit this level precisely). This mark is sufficient for entrance to the majority of Kent grammar schools, apart from a few that require higher marks. The required marks for the latter will vary according to demand each year, and so will not be known until March. Additional children are found selective by the process of Headteacher Assessment (HTA) described here and below.
Further places can be awarded to individual schools by the appeal process; my recent article on Appeals reporting on 2016 outcomes.
Girls lead again
As with 2015, girls are performing better than boys in both the Test and HTAs, the test outcome being a reversal of the previous model, replaced in 2014. This reversal is primarily because of the introduction of a literacy element in the new Test which, according to the statistics, favours girls. Girls have always performed best on HTA, the more significant factor in accounting for the difference in performance by gender, the gap again reducing pressure on boys’ grammar school places, although this has shrunk once more this year.
School Performance
Overall, the best performing primary schools in terms of percentage pass rate from total pupil numbers are: Amherst (Sevenoaks) 77%; Ethelbert Road (Faversham) 73%; Ramsgate Holy Trinity CofE & Claremont (Tunbridge Wells) 70%; Sholden CofE & Penshurst CofE 64%; Weald (Sevenoaks) 62%;  Lady Boswells CofE (also Sevenoaks) 59%; Wickhambreaux CofE 58%; and Yalding St Peter & St Paul CofE 57%. Weald, Amherst and Yalding were all in the top ten last year.
There is no way of knowing what proportion of the pass marks are down to high quality teaching in the school (although Ethelbert Road had the highest proportion of Level 5 SATs in 2015 at 73%, and Lady Boswell’s third highest at 70%), or alternatively private tuition. At the other end of the scale, whilst all Kent primary schools entered candidates, 21 had no successes, although some of seven from Dover and Shepway may have had candidates entered for their Local 11 Plus Tests who qualified for grammar school this way).
Kent Grammar School Assessments 2016,
for Admission in September 2017*




Year Six Kent Population**


8316 17016 51% 49% 100%

Number who sat test


5264 10435 59% 63% 61%

Automatic Pass


1680 3415 19.9% 20.2% 20.1%

Headteacher Assessment (HTA)


908  1753 9.7%  10.9% 10.3%
HTA Passes  452  505 957  5.2%  6.1%  5.6% 

Total Kent  Passes


2185  4372 25.1%  26.2% 25.7%

Out of County Tested


 1949 3947 


 49% 100%

Out of County Automatic Pass


991 2074 54%   51%  53%

OOC Headteacher Assessment




 5%  5%  5%


45 46 91  2%  2%  2%
Total OOC Passes 1128 1037 2165 56% 53% 55%
Notes to table at foot of article
District Variation in Passes and Headteacher Assessment (HTA)
Along with the 21% target of automatic passes, a target of an additional 4% of children were found selective by what is known as Head Teacher Assessment (HTA) which looks at children’s work, previous test results, headteacher recommendation and pass mark. Further details here.
Once again approximately 11.5% of all Kent automatic passes have gone to children in the private sector, but just 4% of the upheld HTAs, resulting in overall 10% of selective assessments being for children at private schools. However, a considerable proportion of these will not take up grammar school places, preferring to remain private.
Highest automatic test pass rates for state school pupils unsurprisingly are Sevenoaks & Tunbridge Wells with 25.5% of all state educated children being successful, and Tonbridge and Malling with 23.6% although all are down on last year. These West Kent figures will be swollen by the extensive private school sector, which is impossible to pin down in geographic terms. Next come Dartford with 19%, and Canterbury with 18.1%. At the other end of the scale are Thanet at 11.4% and Swale at 11.8%, but see below. Next come Dover 12.4% and Shepway, 13.1%. 
Most automatic passes follow socio-economic patterns across the county, but the influence of HTAs is very different. There are four Panels of Headteachers which make the awards, with East Kent always the most generous, with 507 out of 828 referrals being upheld. Mid and North West Kent follow with about half of all referrals upheld, West Kent bringing up the rear, with just 63 out of 220 referrals upheld. This variation reflects the differing pressure on grammar school places in each part of the county. Whilst three of the East Kent Districts lead the way as usual, their order changes, Swale leading with 8.1%of all children being found selective by this route. Thanet comes second at 7.2% followed by Canterbury at 7.2%. Lowest proportion of all comes Shepway with 3.2% of all its children having a successful HTA, followed by Tunbridge Wells at 3.6% and Sevenoaks at 3.8%.  
Adding these two figures together give the overall selective decisions which range from Shepway at 16.3%, Dover 18.1%; Thanet 19.3% and Gravesham 19.4. At the top come Sevenoaks with 29.3%, followed predictably by Tunbridge Wells at 29.1% and Tonbridge at 28.3%.
District Performance for Kent Test 2016
Passes %
Success %
Success %
Ashford 16.9 6.1 23.0
Canterbury 18.1 7.2


Dartford 19 6.9 25.9
Dover 12.4 5.7 18.1
Gravesham 13.9 5.5 19.4
Maidstone 17.7 5.4 23.0
Sevenoaks 25.5 3.8 29,3
Shepway 13.1 3.2 16.3
Swale 11.8 8.1 19.9
Thanet 11.4 7.9 19.3
Tonbridge 23.6 4.7 28.3
Tunbridge Wells 25.5 3.6 29.1
Pupil Premium Children
Thanks to an FOI Request from Jo Bartley, there is now considerable information available on the Kent Test performance of children on Pupil Premium (PP), socially disadvantaged children the majority of whom qualify through Free School Meals. This shows that 352 out of 3880 Kent state school children who were found selective for entry to grammar school in September 2017 were on PP, a total of 9.1%. Even including the private school children who qualified, many of whom do not take up places, the figure is still 8.1%, This figures is well above the regularly quoted fallacious 3%, or more accurately 6% from government figures at Year 11, for PP children in Kent grammar schools. This reflects, I like to think, changing attitudes in the education sector towards these disadvantaged children, influenced by the findings of the KCC Select Committee on Social Mobility and Grammar Schools. As the data reveals, the argument that HTAs are biased against children carrying a Pupil Premium is also false. For 38% (135 out of the 352) of PP children found selective qualified through the HTA route, as against 22% of the total number of children found selective. That is a powerful argument to demonstrate that the system supports these children at a stage where there is no influence by private tutoring. However, there is still some way to go.   
Out of County Passes
Each year the number of out of county Kent Test passes rises due to what has been called 11 plus tourism, as too many London families apply to grammar schools around the M25 belt, or else the North West Kent grammars easily reached by rail out of SE London. This is usually accompanied by some hysterical media headlines about the consequent shortage of grammar school places for Kent children, which never actually happens, as most of these children never arrive.  
Recent changes in admission policy at the two Wilmington Grammars and the Judd School to favour Kent children is further inhibiting supply of places for out of county children, but certainly not demand. For 2016 admissions, of the 2165 (1974 in 2015) ooc Kent Test passes, just 412 (down from 455 in 2015) were offered places in March, over half at the four Dartford and Wilmington grammars, with this number likely to have fallen further before entry in September.
Of course this large proportion of speculative test sittings, in some cases merely providing free practice for grammar schools in other parts of the country as can be seen by the high number of enquiries on 11 plus forums from parents in possession of a selective assessment for their child, who don’t even know where the Kent grammar schools are!
But of course, it is not free for Kent taxpayers, as the costs of administration, materials and provision of test venues falls on them. Sadly, there appears no way of recovering the costs, which surely run into tens of thousands of pounds, from those parents who have no Kent connections. 
Local Authorities with the Largest Number of
Out of County Assessments for Kent Test 2016
of Schools
Places in 2016
Bexley 1012 55 530 127
Bromley 698 70 438 88
Greenwich 671 68 342 41
Lewisham 325 62 193 23
Medway 403 61 182 13
East Sussex 137 50 96 41


28 84 21
Croydon 78 35 65 6
Barking & Dagenham 85 31 47 6
Notes for the first table
* These statistics do not cover the 11 home educated Kent children who passed the Kent Test; and the 23 others.
** Year Six Population
The pass mark is set to produce a target of 21% of children for an automatic selective decision from the relevant cohort of children. This cohort comprises all Year Six mainstream state school children in the county, together with all children in Kent private schools taking the Kent Test, for the 2016 Test.






Last modified on Thursday, 25 July 2019 05:32


  • Comment Link Saturday, 25 February 2017 20:13 posted by Needwilmingtn

    Hi Peter, I understand that Judd and Tunbridge have added extra classes. Does this mean less pressure for the Dartford schools and Wilmington. PETER: I don't think so. The pressure on the NW Kent grammar schools comes from London. This is to ease pressure in West Kent which only has a peripheral effect on Dartford. Sorry.

  • Comment Link Thursday, 24 November 2016 14:59 posted by Jo Bartley

    You said of the number of disadvantaged pupils in grammar schools, "This figures is well above the regularly quoted fallacious 3%."

    I fear that you are confusing the two measures of disadvantage used and quoted in reports. There are around 3% of pupils in grammar schools receiving Free School Meals. This is commonly quoted and is quite accurate.

    Free School Meals (FSM) pupils are children receiving free meals due to parents in receipt of benefits. The 6% figure that is also often quoted, and is also accurate, this is for Pupil Premium pupils in grammars.

    Pupil Premium children have at some point in their schooling received FSM, but their parents are no longer on benefits so this measures past disadvantage and will always be higher.

    As KCC state in their recent report:

    Overall, 2.8% of pupils attending grammar schools in Kent are eligible for Free School Meals (FSM), compared to 13.4% in non-selective Kent secondary schools.

    Overall, 6.3% of pupils attending grammar schools in Kent are in receipt of Pupil Premium, compared to 26.9% in non-selective Kent secondary schools3

    You say that Pupil Premium passes are higher this year at 9.1%. The figure was 8.34% in 2015, so this is certainly some improvement and may well be due to efforts arising from the commission.

    However it seems around 2% of disadvantaged children who pass may decide to attend a non-selective school rather than a grammar. (My guesstimate based on 8.3% passing the test in 2015 yet only 6.3% attending grammars according to KCC's figures.) Perhaps that will be better this year if outreach work has persuaded the children of the benefits of grammar schools. Although transport costs or inconveniences may also be responsible for them choosing a nearby high school.

    As you say, good to see some progress, still more could be done! PETER: It is false to say that PP children are from families whose parents are no longer on benefits. The large majority are currently on FSMs, others mainly older children will have given them up, often because of peer group pressure. Then there are those who are or have been Looked After Children.

  • Comment Link Thursday, 24 November 2016 07:12 posted by Proud Ethelbert Road parent

    Couldn't agree more. We have certainly benefited enormously from the advice on admissions this time round and last year on appeals. Why is this not provided by those who are supposed to be in charge and supporting parents.

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 22 November 2016 23:20 posted by Richard B

    How do you do it? Another brilliant analysis of Kent Test results, uniquely available here and I assume must be as invaluable to parents as they are to we professionals. Each article is of such high quality, they must taken you many hours of research. Thank you. PETER: Thank you!

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