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Sunday, 08 January 2017 19:07

Maidstone Girls and Invicta Grammar Schools: Sixth Form Admissions

Further Update on Maidstone Grammar School for Girls
A subsequent article, entitled: Ombudsman confirms Maidstone Girls' Grammar has operated unlawful Sixth Form Admission rules for years, published in September 2017, sets out the truth.
Further Update on Invicta 
You will find further advice prepared in August for anyone who finds themselves in this position here; and another in August 2017, confirming the illegality here

 Update: I have been asked by a number of Year 12 families about any advice I can offer to current students who fear for their chances in Year 13. See new heading towards foot of the article. 

You will find a feature length article in Kent on Sunday here, widening the debate. It includes a quotation by Julie Derrick, headteacher of Invicta Grammar School: "This is an 'interpretation' by a couple of students- it is not accurate". The host of testimonies at the foot of this table, and in the media, suggests she is out of touch with reality. 

Please visit comments at the foot of this page, from twenty young people or their parents, who come across as thoughtful, full of commonsense, concerned for other victims, and well educated by their school. All support the facts denied by Invicta Grammar. Please note that whilst some have chosen to write under a nom de plume, nearly all have identified themselves to me and appear to be genuine. This webpage has been unprecedented in its popularity with 9239 visitors on its first day of publication, indicating the importance of the issues raised,  having subsequently soared to a total of 29,846 (July 2018)

The pressure to achieve results has resulted in the two girls’ grammar schools in Maidstone both adopting apparently unlawful tactics to secure top A Level grade performance, at the expense of the future of some students. OFSTED considers both high performing schools are Outstanding, so there is no doubt about the excellent quality of education offered for those young people who stay the course.  

However, at Maidstone Grammar School for Girls, the school suddenly introduced a new and unlawful provision for selecting external students for admission to the Sixth Form in September 2016, illegally picking those predicted to achieve highest GCSE Grades by a process not in the school’s admission rules.

At Invicta Grammar School, 22 students ‘voluntarily’ left the school half way through their A Level course, refused permission to carry on into Year 13, a total of 26 through the year, the highest number and the second highest proportion of any Kent grammar school. This was because their grades at AS level were insufficient to be confident of the high A Level performance of which the school is so proud, Given no alternative to stay on, this amounts to expulsion although there is no lawful provision for students to be removed mid-course by schools in this way.

Further details on the situation at both schools below, along with other grammar schools which have a high departure rate. There appears a particular problem in Medway, where four of the six grammar schools saw a loss of more than 10% of their cohort between Years 12 and 13 this year. 

Each year, I am contacted by a number of young people, mainly but not exclusively in grammar schools, who are not admitted to Sixth Forms although fully qualified according to the school admission criteria, or who are forced out at the end of Year 12 because the school only wants the highest performing students for the sake of their league table position.  However, these two cases are the most extreme I have come across.

Too many students, capable of fulfilling their potential by achieving A Level success, albeit sometimes at a lower level than schools wish to see, therefore see their career chances thwarted...

It is clear that Invicta Grammar School's position of throwing out Year 12 students who don't achieve high AS Grades to try and force up the school's league table place, is not universally popular.  The headteachers of both of Kent's top performing boys' schools, who might have much to benefit from such a practice, have both spoken out publicly against it. Edward Wesson, Head of The Skinners School made a withering comment on BBC SE tonight, available for most of Saturday. He refers to the many students who make significant improvement after the end of Year 12, and believes that schools should have faith in their own students. Robert Masters, Headteacher of The Judd School, in KentLive, was also critical of such policies. His approach had changed after he took in students who had been thrown out from elsewhere! He saw that a positive approach to students was the answer, "How do you not just support them at the end of year 12 – it is vital you support them through the year". 
Other Grammar Schools
The difference between Invicta and other grammar schools with a high drop out rate is there is considerable evidence that at Invicta, students were refused permission to continue into Year 13, which would be unlawful. I do not currently have any information about the reasons at other schools although I can guess for some. In each case some students may genuinely have found the course too difficult, others found schools with unrealistically high academic expectations, come to their own conclusion after AS Level results are published that it is not worth continuing, or simply found another career path that looks more attractive, but the figures are far too high at some schools for this to be the only reason.  Data for summer 2016 from recent census results show that just five grammar schools lost more than 10% of their students between Years 12 and 13. Highest was Wilmington Grammar School for Boys losing 17% of its total, or 21 students. Invicta was second highest at 15%, or 26 students; then come Norton Knatchbull at 13%, and Harvey Grammar and Folkestone School for Girls with 12% each, at 15 and 13 students respectively. For 2015, Wilmington Grammar Girls had the highest drop out rate with 34 students, or 24% of the total not following through.  However, the highest number departing was from Gravesend Grammar School, which saw 41 students, or 23% of the total cohort leaving after Year 12. The others are: The others are Wilmington Grammar Boys - also 24%, 31 students; Oakwood Park, 18%; 18 students; Invicta 16%, 26 students; Chatham & Clarendon 13%, 35 students; Highsted, also 13%, but just 12 students; Norton Knatchbull 11%, 16 students.
In Medway, four of the six grammar schools saw a fall of over 10% in 2016 between Years 12 and 13, suggesting a significant problem, but also perhaps not irrelevant to their good A Level performance. Both the super-selectives Rainham Mark Grammar School and The Rochester Grammar Schools saw a fall of 13%, so one in every eight of those students starting the A Level course at these schools did not finish it. 
Five schools: Borden; Cranbrook; Tunbridge Wells Boys; Maidstone Grammar; and Sir Roger Manwood's all maintained numbers with no net loss in 2016, but this could disguise a turnover both in and out. Interestingly, nearly all Kent grammar schools have seen the proportion staying on between Years 12 and 13 increase over the last two years, some considerably, possibly as a result of the financial cuts affecting Sixth Forms, so schools are working that much harder to keep students on board. Invicta is one of the exceptions. 
Sadly, with three of the four Further Education Colleges now having abandoned A Level courses as being too expensive, leaving just West Kent College,  there are few alternatives to study at the same level.  
Maidstone Grammar School for Girls
The published Sixth Form Admission criteria give priority for external applicants to the Sixth Form to academically qualified girls or boys who are (a) “looked after children” (b) siblings, (c) health reasons (d) by distance after all qualified internal students are offered. It is unfortunate that there are five different versions of the definition of being qualified published in different places, but in the event conditional places were offered for September 2016 entry on an entirely different basis. This completely ignored these published requirements and replaced them by choosing those students with highest forecast GCSE grades no matter where they lived.  Such a change, contrary to the school’s own published admission rules, is unlawful and will have seen many eligible applicants denied places.

According to an FOI Request, there were 329 external applicants to the Sixth Form with 168 conditional offers made, all other applicants being placed on a waiting list. Straight conditional offers were made to the highest performing students who all had a projected Average Point Score of 47 GCSE points, based on a reference from the previous school. This is very different from and effectively higher than the published academic requirement based on variants of six GCSEs at Grade C or above, with at least four of these at Grade B or above,

After GCSE results were published in August all those with direct provisional offers who achieved the official published academic requirement were presumably awarded places.  The school states that it anticipated around 50 external places being made available to bring the total entering the Sixth Form up to 200 each year. Even if as few as half of those with conditional offers reach that standard the school will have had to admit a total of around 234 Sixth Formers if all Year 11s had stayed on. In the event, there was no increase whatever between Years 11 and 12, the cohort falling one to 174, so it remains a mystery where all these students offered places went, unless there was an enormous number leaving MGSG after Year 11. In similar fashion for 2015, there was a net increase of just two students from Year 11 to Year 12, taking the intake to 180, so again there will have had to be a very high number of internal leavers to keep the figure down. 

The school has issued a letter to parents which states that every student qualified by achieving the published GCSE grades was offered a place, which is unsurprising given  the low number of students who have followed their applications through. However, it is completely irrelevant given the illegal nature of the original conditional offers.  

Interestingly, there is still no copy of the legally required Admissions Policy on the school website. There is a version of arrangements for 11 plus and in year entry, and a page on Sixth Form Entry Requirements and Application Procedure with no mention of the illegal filter introduced for 2016 entry. You can however, refer to the proposed policy and arrangements for 2018,  which introduces a priority for 30 Governors Places for the highest performing candidates at 11 plus, irrespective of residence. This at a school that had 34 vacancies on allocation last year, so presumably is an attempt to boost its popularity. For external applicants to the Sixth Form the proposed arrangements are ambiguous. However, on a likely reading, there will also be 30 Governors Places for high scoring GCSE candidates, but no indication how these will be measured. I am afraid this new proposal is as confusing as the arrangements and documentation have been this year.   

Invicta Grammar School (see comments at foot of article)
The school’s explanation for the 22 departures, according to an FOI Request from me is that leaving the school was merely a recommendation in every case and, following discussion it was mutually agreed that none of the students would continue into Year 13. However, this is against a background that there is a stated requirement for Year 12 A Level students studying AS courses to attain a grade C/above in those subjects being examined, including General Studies, for transition into Year 13, with no path available for students not reaching this standard. I certainly am in possession of a letter that states: "Should she be unsuccessful in achieving the C Grades or above in all three A Level subjects, we will unfortunately not be able to offer a place in Year 13". She wasn't; they wouldn't. Whatever the rights and wrongs, clearly in direct contradiction to the claim in the FOI, repeated  publicly in the media by Mrs Derrick several times that all left voluntarily, none were forced out!! 

In reply to to the FOI, the term ‘entry requirements’ relating to continuation of the course into Year 13 is used over and over again, although the school claims none were refused permission to continue. According to the school, if any of those students who failed to meet the entry requirements had wished to stay into Year 13, “this would have been considered further with the parents and students until a resolution was agreed. The School does not stipulate to students that they are 'not allowed' to remain in the School for Year 13, however the School encourages the students and parents to understand that it may be in the best interests of the students if they proceed with a different pathway or move to an alternative school or college.”  It is difficult to see what resolution could have been agreed that did not involve leaving! Apparently 20 of the 22 who left were counselled and provided with advice about alternative placements (two not responding to invitations) “and many students and parents accept the position and understand that the School could be setting them up to fail if they continue with their studies into Year 13. Please note that the place for the student remains open in case a suitable alternative provision could not be found”. What about those not included in ‘the many’? This is in direct contradiction to the many testimonies at the foot of this article by ex-students who were forced out of the school. The reason the school cannot concede some if not all these cases, is because they clearly agree with my assessment of the rules and are not prepared to publicly flout the rules.  

It is also not not the experience of those families I have talked with where students were simply told they could not come back with no counselling, apart from a number who were told to approach Valley Park School (also in the Valley Invicta Trust) about applying there. In a number of cases, a fortnight after visiting the school the students were told this was not possible. Refusal to allow students to complete their sixth form studies would of course be unlawful, so the school is not in a position to admit this, although the evidence to the contrary appears overwhelming.

As a result the school has steadfastly maintained in response to media enquiries, and so is on public record, that no students have been forced to leave the school against their will. Sadly, they are clearly refusing to tell the truth, having dug themselves into a hole. What an example!

Quote from Parent of a current Year 12 Girl at Invicta
"They are ruthless. I have a daughter in Year 12 at Invicta terrified of getting her mock results next week. There is terrible pressure on the children there". 

The school asserts in the FOI that “The School sends progress letters to parents during the school year if there are concerns about grades and achieving the entry requirements for Year 13. The School invites parents to attend meetings during the school year to discuss concerns about progress and the areas for improvement”. For some of the girls not allowed to progress to Year 13, no concerns whatever were raised about progress in Year 12, so this was irrelevant.

Student: "On the day I received my results I called my parents and told them I had a meeting at the school and they said 'You didn't get the grades, try Valley'. That was it

Parent:  "We tried everywhere offering A levels and after **** started at college, Invicta called and said did she find a school? That's not offering support, if we had not found the course at college ourselves I'd have nothing to go to and they didn't care."

Legally all young people are required to participate in some form of education or training until they reach the age of 18, and KCC have had to chase up some of these young people, as required by the legislation, as the school had no idea and apparently no interest in where they had gone.

This is all in a school culture known to be hard on both students and staff in the drive to achieve top grades. In 2015, there was also a fall of 26 students between Years 12 and 13, this time 16% of the total, the fifth highest leaving rate in a Kent grammar school, so this is clearly a pattern of which potential students need to be aware. Further, although I don’t know the number of external girls joining the Sixth Form, for 2016 the overall number of students in Year 12 fell by 14 from the 181 of the previous Year 11, suggesting a high number again leaving at this stage, but without replacements. In fact a net 40 students left Invicta from this cohort at the end of Year 11 and 12 together, the highest figure for any Kent grammar school, nearly a quarter of those who set out in Invicta at the age of 11.  

The headteacher of Invicta Grammar School is  quoted in the Kent & East Sussex Courier: This is an "interpretation" by a couple of students. It is not accurate. All our students are supported to follow the correct academic path to enable their own personal success. We advise students for what isbest forthem".  The sixteen students who have commented on this website article below, along with others who have contacted me offline describe a very different culture that sees those not heading for top grades forced out; presumably this is the school knowing what is best for them and helping them on the correct academic path!! The school's own response to my FOI, whilst explicitly claiming that all 22 students who left this year after publication of AS results chose to go voluntarily, offers plenty of evidence to the contrary. Does the headteacher really not know what is going on in her own school? 

I have been told that in 2015 a disproportionate number of boys joined Invicta Sixth Form from Maidstone Grammar School. A number were included in the 22 who 'left' but have happily been re-accepted back into the more humane MGS. I am guessing that few will join Invicta this year. 

What should current Year 12 students do if they fear for progress into Year 13?
Given the present controversy it is difficult to forecast the school's stance on students who don't achieve the set grades. However, they have consistently claimed that no student was not allowed to remain in the school, and that all who left chose to do. See responses too FOI Request below.
Invicta Grammar School's Responses to Freedom of Information Request
1. How many students in Year 12 of lnvicta Grammar School in 2015-16 were not allowed to remain in the school for 2016-17 by reason of not achieving the required grades in examinations.
The School can confirm that 22 students left the School at the end of Year 12 in 2015-2016.These students did not meet the entry requirements to continue into Year 13 in line with  the School's Admission Policy, and therefore it was recommended to these students that they considered a change of pathway and/or apply to alternative schools or colleges. The School provides ongoing support and guidance in relation to securing places at alternative schools and colleges. The circumstances were discussed with both the parents and the students and it was mutually agreed that the students would not continue into Year  13 at theSchool.

If any of these students had wished to remain at the School for Year 13, this would have been consideredfurtherwiththeparentsandstudentsuntilaresolutionwasagreed.TheSchooldoes not stipulate to students that they are 'not allowed' to remain in the School for Year 13, however theSchoolencouragesthestudentsandparentstounderstandthatitmaybeinthebestinterests ofthestudentsiftheyproceedwithadifferentpathwayormovetoanalternativeschoolorcollege. The School is  open and transparent  with students and  parents throughout  the school yearin relation to the School's expectations and requirements, and many students and parents accept the position and understand that the School could be setting them up to fail if they continue with their studies into Year 13. Please note that the place for the student remains open in case a suitable alternative provision could not befound.

2. How many students in Year 12 of lnvicta Grammar School in 2015-16 were not allowed to remain in the school for 2016-17 for other reasons.
Other than as stated in the response to question 1, the School can confirm that there were no Year 12 students that were not allowed to remain in the School for the academic year of 2016-2017 for other reasons.
3. How many students in Year 12 of lnvicta Grammar School in 2015-16 chose to leave the school at the end of the school year.
As stated in the response to question 1, the School can confirm that 22 students chose to leave the School at the end of Year  12 in 2015-2016.

 Now compare this to the many testimonies below, which utterly contradict the responses. All I can advise is you take these responses into any meeting called by the school, which confirm that no one is forced to leave, although the school can advise that it MAY be in the students' best interests to leave. What remains unclear is whether the school has the legal right to expel such students. Their refusal to admit they have forced students out suggests they think it is against the regulations. I am told that not even the DfE will give an answer.  


One fascinating and unique aspect of the whole story is the large number of those posting comments who are not afraid to be identified. 

Like the one parent who has challenged me, I am surprised that no one has yet seen fit to take this or any other school to court over the deprivation of opportunity, but there appears to be general acceptance that schools can do their own thing. Hopefully this article and its widespread circulation on social media  will bring forth a challenge so that any doubt can be laid to rest. 

Last year Invicta Grammar carried out an internal investigation into alleged illegal teacher assistance towards students taking the 2016 AS media studies examination. The school found itself innocent. One of the students I have been in communication with alleges that her Media Studies grade was helped by being shown a video and advised on it, that was subsequently shown and featured in the examination. Others were required to sign a declaration that no malpractice occurred, although they appear to have known otherwise. Perhaps there was not sufficient determination within the school to expose an internal issue that helped raise grades, which sadly would be consistent with the above pattern. 

Last modified on Tuesday, 24 July 2018 17:21


  • Comment Link Saturday, 26 August 2017 05:22 posted by Fiona Nicholson

    Has anyone complained to the Schools Adjudicator about the policy or its application. PETER: You are of course quite right to query this, but it appears that as a direct result of my challenge the school appears now to have removed any requirement for completing the A
    Level course, going into Year Thirteen. This acknowledges the truth of my claim, but removes any opportunity for legal challenge, unless students are still being forced out illegally. Of course this only strengthens the evidence to support my case.

  • Comment Link Wednesday, 01 February 2017 19:35 posted by Frustrated Parent, daughter leaving Invicta at end of Year 11

    So, there is loads of evidence of misconduct here with the headteacher's claims in all three examples, contradicted powerfully. In the case of the Year 12 girls forced out to improve A Level grades, there are just too many convincing testimonies. What happens next? Someone suggests contacting MPs. Good. What about the school governors; surely they have a responsibility to investigate. I am sure that many of these witnesses will testify if asked.

    This story is widely circulating in Maidstone and damaging the school. Does no one care enough to find out the truth.

  • Comment Link Monday, 30 January 2017 16:55 posted by Parent

    The statement: 'the school says the decision was entirely voluntary' is not correct in my case.
    My daughter was told she could not continue into year 13 at Invicta in 2015. We had several meetings with Ms Derrick and were left in no doubt that she could not be accommodated in year 13 following her AS results being too low.
    Despite offering to put into place tutoring at home to support her we were told she did not have a place and they suggested she continued her study at Valley Park doing BTechs, an option that we did not feel would be beneficial to her.
    The schools policy shows an extremely low level of pastoral care and little regard for the affect it has on the students they 'cull'.
    We were forced to make arrangements in 2 weeks to provide a suitable year 13 provision and my daughter went on to achieve B B & C on 3 new courses in just one year.
    My daughter did not 'volunteer' to leave and in fact we felt that it was important pastorally that she was given the opportunity to complete her study with her peers and made these opinions and wishes very clear in meetings with Ms Derrick.

  • Comment Link Sunday, 29 January 2017 12:31 posted by Angry parent, name supplied

    Can I pick up on your last paragraph about the Media Studies exam. One of my daughters was a beneficiary of seeing the video before the practical assessment and as a result would have got a higher grade than expected. Afterwards there was the 'internal investigation'. Along with others she was asked to sign a statement saying there had been no wrongdoing. When, several of the girls protested this was not right, they were warned there would be 'consequences if they did not sign'.
    On a previous occasion I went with my younger daughter to the Open Evening. There we were told that to get a place, we had to put the school in first place on the list. The school would be able to get hold of this information and see where we had placed the school on our list to help them choose pupils. I discussed this with Peter who said he had other reports of the same, in other years. It was not true, the school was not telling the truth.

    The school has clearly also told lies about the Year 12 girls being thrown out. Is there anyone who can stop this culture of lying in the school? Clearly shame does not work.

    P.S. My younger daughter did not choose Invicta in the end, for which I am eternally grateful. PETER: I have indeed talked with parents over the years who have been told the same story about the school's ability to find where a child is on the admission list. Although I know it is not possible, I have still reported it to KCC admissions more than once.

  • Comment Link Monday, 23 January 2017 05:27 posted by Andrea

    Dear Mr Read, I am writing in response to the article published in this weeks Kent Messenger newspaper (January 20th) entitled 'School deny using unethical tactics to keep top grades'.I am writing to you because I felt incensed reading this article and would like to confirm that my daughter was also forced to leave Invicta half way through sixth form. My Daughter was a pupil at Invicta Grammar school from year 7. She entered sixth form in 2014 and received the results of her AS levels in the Summer of 2015. On the day that she received her results she was taken to the Head of Sixth form's office and told that she would not be able to return for her final year. My daughter most certainly did not leave voluntarily. Therefore, the claim in the article which states 'the school says the decisions were entirely voluntary' is wholly untrue in the case of my daughter. On the day that she received her results and this news, I was waiting outside the school for her. She came out distraught and in tears and did not want me to go in to the school at that time to speak with the head of Sixth form or the headteacher due to the humiliation she felt at that time. Therefore, I waited for the school to contact me either by telephone or letter to discuss their decision and to accept any support and guidance from them. However, to this day we received no further communication from the school. It seemed that they literally washed their hands of her on that day. We were offered no support whatsoever and it was a very difficult time as the options were limited particularly as Mid Kent College were no longer offering A level courses. My daughter suffered low self esteem and felt worthless. I felt sure that the school would eventually contact us before the start of the next academic year in September 2015, particularly as my daughter was still 17 and was legally required to participate in some form of education or training until she was 18. However, to this day we have had no further communication from the school which I find totally appalling as surely they must have had some obligation to ensure she was in education. I still feel totally disgusted at the way my daughter was made to leave Invicta Grammar school at a crucial time in her education. She did not leave voluntarily and was not offered support. I completely disagree with the claim by Julie Derrick, headteacher, that Invicta always supports students to do what is "best for them". I feel that my daughter was forced to leave the school as she potentially would not achieve high grades, thus affecting the overall results of the school. Despite the psychological impact this had upon my daughter, she finished her final year of sixth form at College. She gained excellent A level results and is studying her chosen course at University. Therefore I feel that the schools actions towards my daughter were wholly unjustifiable.
    Yours sincerely
    cc Julie Derrick, Head teacher, Invicta Grammar School

  • Comment Link Sunday, 22 January 2017 19:37 posted by Dora Stanford

    There is another girls' grammar school in our area that has probably encouraged some of its pupils to transfer during their GCSE years to another local school which has vacancies. These pupils all seem to have problems that often reduce their attainment at GCSE. This means that the first school preserves its results at the expense of the second. I should think that many high-performing schools maintain their A Level results by suggesting that students leave after year 12. It is irresponsible, and detrimental to the students, particularly now that AS Levels are not now generally taken at the end of Year 12.

  • Comment Link Friday, 20 January 2017 19:44 posted by Anon

    My daughter was one of the 26 that left after poor AS results last year. I can confirm that she did not leave voluntarily- there was no option of staying at Invicta. There was no misinterpretation - 'we will not be able to offer a place in Year 13' is pretty clear.
    I cannot express sufficiently how disappointed I am with Invicta. My daughter was cast adrift with no care or responsibility taken for her education or well-being by her school of 6 years. I absolutely acknowledge that she under achieved in Year 12 but was surprised that a child with potential and a strong GCSE profile could just be discarded.
    I hope that the comments on here & the bad press in recent days will encourage Invicta to rethink their policy & prioritise their students welfare rather than grades alone. PETER I can confirm this, as I have seen a letter from the Head of Sixth Form that spells this out explicitly and proves the school's claim that all students left voluntarily to be untrue, placing the headteacher who made those claims in a potentially difficult situation.

  • Comment Link Thursday, 19 January 2017 19:46 posted by Helen Smith

    Has anyone thought of writing to their Member of Parliament about this?

  • Comment Link Wednesday, 18 January 2017 19:29 posted by Chris Connell

    Have you seen the appalling fact free 'news item' by E McConnell on kentonline at which, as the link states, dismisses the facts in your well founded article, and appears to have been written at the direction of one of the two schools.
    I am signing this letter as a parent of a girl who will bear testimony to the facts you describe, which he falsely claims were inspired by anonymous comments. PETER: Yes several people have complained to me about it. I have added my comment. Feel free to add yours

  • Comment Link Monday, 16 January 2017 22:16 posted by Emily

    I attended Invicta between 2010-2016 after completing my AS Levels not continuing into year 13, after realising that i was going to be given a meeting to discuss my options for year 13 and hearing the choices that others were being given ("you can finish your AS exams and not continue into year 13" or "you can leave now and not finish the year") i decided to apply to a foundation course at a local university, invicta were very helpful when it came to my application as my personal statement and references from members of staff came very quickly (within a week in fact) it was very clear that i was no longer wanted at invicta with the speed that my application was done with. i can completely confirm what is written in this article as many of my friends were given this choice, i made my own choice to not be victimised by invitca. i am now far happier on my foundation course than i ever was at invicta. i have also recently been told by my friends in year 13, that home studies and free periods have been taken away due to poor grades and learning, did the faculty ever stop to think that the poor grades and learning could be because of them?

  • Comment Link Saturday, 14 January 2017 21:59 posted by Bugsy6

    In reply to your comments on my post, which doesn't ignore evidence it simply puts it into perspective. All I was saying is the reasons the pupils were advised to look elsewhere is because they simply couldn't cope with the workload and that's a fact. The school hss their best interests at hesrt it isnt simply about grades, not anymore. Once again what parent wants to leave their child in an environment where they can't cope? The comments on here are from disgruntled parents and pupils who clearly have issues with the school so why would they want to stay anyway? Go elsewhere! Can I ask has there been a Court case or Ombudsman ruling stating this is unlawful? If so can you publish it please? Many thanks PETER: No there hasn't been a court case yet. But the desperation of Invicta to avoid admitting the truth that they HAVE forced girls out of the school (even though I have it in writing) suggests they are concerned about this very issue.

  • Comment Link Friday, 13 January 2017 19:26 posted by Year 12 at Invicta

    Is Bugsy6 below simply wrapped up with her own very talented daughter, to the extent she does not want to know what is going on. I suspect her daughter is in Year 12, along with me, so must be aware of the pressures others are under to succeed. Like most of us, I know students forced to leave last summer with no counselling. Bugsy6 writes: "The children that were asked to leave were students who were struggling badly and unable to keep up and did not attend extra help and mentor sessions that were made available to them!". Ridiculous - 22 students struggling badly says an awful lot about the poor standard of teaching for 'ordinary' students and definitely not true. Required AS Grades are set so high to eliminate girls who won't get the A Grades the school wants to see, but would go on to achieve sound passes. These girls would be a credit to the school if not chucked on the junk heap. Join another school if not satisfied? Peter demonstrates above that more Invicta students take this option than at any pother Kent Grammar - and still no-one cares.

  • Comment Link Friday, 13 January 2017 11:18 posted by Bugsy6

    PETER: A comment very different to the 17 testimonies that follow it from past and present students and their families. I have acknowledged in my article that those who complete the journey get a great education. It is such a shame that you have chosen to completely ignore the plenteous evidence in the article and to make so many blinkered assertions ignoring this evidence. ***************** COMMENT BEGINS: It is such a shame that you all continue to put down a school that offers so much to every pupil. I have a daughter currently in sixth form at Invicta and have never experienced what is being described. I am not a pushy parent, but simply want the best for my children. She achieved a fantastic set of results at GCSE, not because she was "pushed or flogged" to do so but because she took pride in her work and wanted to achieve. The school has changed over the past five years she has been there and is far more focussed now on a child achieving the best they can be rather than focussing on results. It truly is an outstanding school and the pastoral care is second to none. I am fed up with the school being continually slated by people who haven't attended jumping on the bandwagon of rumour and gossip or who did attend and couldn't keep up with the pace. If you don't like the school or the sound of it, don't send your child there or go elsewhere- but please stop moaning about it. The children that were asked to leave were students who were struggling badly and unable to keep up and did not attend extra help and mentor sessions that were made available to them! The school will bend over backwards to keep it's pupils and offer as much help as is needed. If a child is still struggling why would you want them to be in an academic environment that they clearly aren't capable of?? I certainly wouldn't want my daughter left somewhere she couldn't cope. Invicta is a genuinely outstanding school, with outstanding staff and leadership. I'm not saying it is perfect, but any issues I ever had were dealt with swiftly and sensitively. Please people stop moaning and be really grateful for an education that money really can't buy!! PETER: I agree that it is a great education for those that fit in, and aren't unlawfully forced out.

  • Comment Link Friday, 13 January 2017 10:39 posted by NS

    That certain schools in the area 'weed out' those who might damage the schools' exam results is not news to many of us! PETER: No, but it is unlawful and has been allowed to go on too long. It is only when the scandal reaches this scale and is exposed in this way that someone may be prepared to take action.

  • Comment Link Friday, 13 January 2017 06:01 posted by Joanna Dunn

    I attended Invicta from 1997-2003 and while I have some good memories of my time there I sadly have far more bad memories of the time there. From day one you have it drilled into you that you are the top x% of the country academically, and throughout my tenure st Invicta it was on a constant loop to "think about which university you will be attending".

    In 6th form I know a number of now grown women who stated to the careers advisor that they did not wish to continue on to university and many were greeted with "what so you're just going to collect shopping trolleys in Sainsbury's all your life?!" Anyone who did not aspire for a university place was seen as a failure despite the fact that those women who did not attend uni are now actually earning more money than a lot of the women who did attend university!

    Invicta was also a hotbed for bullying - the teachers turned a total blind eye and were only concerned about getting the grade statistics. Little ladies are not the inhabitants of Invicta Grammar School - it's a cesspit of hormonal, stressed, emotionally stretched young girls who have it constantly piped at them that they are the academicallly entitled.

    When my own daughter comes of age I will be pushing her in the direction of Valley or Maplesden, if she is academically brilliant then I would encourage her to get out of Invicta before 6th form and to attend one of the boys schools. Invicta seemed genuinely nervous that any girl who may have just wanted to be a secretary and have a family would reflect badly on them! As a school they were largely devoid of emotional support and purely focused on the academia regardless of any casualties along the path to academic greatness!

  • Comment Link Thursday, 12 January 2017 23:01 posted by Melissa W

    Invicta literally put so much pressure on students and provided next to no pastoral support at all. During my time there I suffered from mental health problems and a lot of this was caused by the stress of completing my gcse's. We were put under so much pressure as we had to complete them a year early over 2 years. By the time I was 15 I had achieved 11 gcse's all A/A* grades, but I was the most depressed I'd been in my life. The only support they provided was 1 counsellor for the whole student body, who came in for 5 hours a week... She could literally see a maximum of 10 students for 30 mins a week. I know I was not the only student struggling either, the amount of girls in my year that had problems was shocking, it was almost an epidemic, and I feel the school really failed all their students by the lack of support. It's such a shame it's taken until now for myself and other ex-pupils who have commented to realise how mistreated we all were. It's disgusting how the senior leadership team, all fully grown adults in a position of power and trust bullied and neglected young vulnerable students just so they could brag about their top grades and position in leadership tables. It's so unacceptable to put that much pressure on 14/15 year olds and provide no support for them.

  • Comment Link Thursday, 12 January 2017 13:19 posted by Anon

    This is not new and was happening even when I was at Invicta Grammar School in 2012. They were appalling, I was averaging grades between A-C, but for one subject I got a D. Instantly all my home study leave was taken away from me with no explanation but that I should have tried harder.
    They are bullies and told me that my chosen career path was not a good career to go into, but the sole reason was that they wanted all students to go to red brick universities. Even though they achieve good grades that is all they care about and I can whole heartedly say that that's all they care about and not the students in some of the most important years of there lives.

  • Comment Link Thursday, 12 January 2017 05:24 posted by Jennifer A

    I feel so sorry for the students whose stories are told below. I was also bullied out of Invicta, for believing that the highest exam grades are not the be all and end all of education, and I still suffer the consequences mentally . However, I was a teacher and was not alone in suffering the fate of having had my career and vocation destroyed. The obsession to be top school in the District has created a culture that is so damaging to too many casualties.

  • Comment Link Wednesday, 11 January 2017 22:52 posted by Anon

    My daughter attended Invicta from year 7 until year 12 when she was told on results day (AS) that she would not be invited back, there was no place for her. This was in 2015. The lady that imparted that information on results day didn't even know my daughters name, she had to ask who she was. How sensitive and caring!! I had been to see the head, head of year and teachers during her last year several times expressing my concern that if she didn't meet their grades of 4Cs that they would throw her out. They assured me that that would not happen. It did. We subsequently had meetings with the head teacher and head of year both of whom said she was so far down there, and the head pointed to the floor, much to my daughters dismay and my horror, that there was no way she would achieve the desired results and we were advised to approach Valley Park. My hardworking daughter was made to feel like she was worthless. My husband expressed his concern that this would not be in her best interests academically or otherwise. The head assumed he had no knowledge of such things and said 'with all due respect you are not an educationalist'. His reply was 'with all due respect I have a masters in education and I'm an assistant head at a school so I do feel qualified to express an informed opinion'. A rude and inaccurate assumption on her part I felt, which she glossed over. All in all the treatment we received from Invicta was beyond shocking leaving us with 2 weeks to find another place of education for our daughter. We did. And in one year she completed both her AS and A2s and is at university.

  • Comment Link Wednesday, 11 January 2017 21:12 posted by djskfhlskj

    I'm currently a Year 13 student at Invicta and I can confirm the harsh treatment of students who don't achieve straight A's. Luckily I was fortunate to receive decent AS Level grades, however half of my friends were removed from the school for grades that most schools wouldn't even consider bad. There was no 'mutual agreement'; those asked to leave were given no choice in the matter and had only 2 weeks to find somewhere to continue their studies. Just recently, people have had their free periods and home studies taken away from them as they're deemed as failing. The school has absolutely no regard for the feelings of individual students; I recall once I was very upset about a personal issue of mine and I was told "just don't let this affect your work". Despite how much of an emphasis they supposedly put on 'individuality', they care very little of the wellbeing of their students. All they care about is grades and the school's reputation. Even my mum has said she regrets sending me to Invicta, I feel I could've had a much more enjoyable experience elsewhere.

  • Comment Link Wednesday, 11 January 2017 16:31 posted by anon

    I went to Tonbridge Grammar School and I have to say they did none of these things and I'm quite proud of that. Even the people who struggled the most throughout their schooling were given support and allowed to carry on until the bitter end. PETER: This is consistent with the statistics, with 7 students out of 150 leaving Year 12 at the end of 2016, which could be for all sorts of valid reasons. Thanks for this. It is a vote of confidence in the school.

  • Comment Link Wednesday, 11 January 2017 13:51 posted by Anon

    I attended Invicta from 2008-2015. I can't confirm how accurate this article is when it focuses on MGGS as I did not attend, however I can 100% confirm that this article is accurate in regards to how Invicta would treat their students who didn't fit their 'model student' image. Luckily, I avoided this treatment as I was quite successful in my AS Levels. However I did dip dramatically in my A2 Levels due to unforeseen circumstances, which I was upset about, however still got into my first choice university. When i went to pick up the results, I felt judged and embarrassed how my head of year acted towards me. They had little care for student happiness and wellbeing and didn't act upon students who were near breaking point due to stress. In year 11 we were told to pick up either one or two AS courses and 2 or 3 GCSE courses. Many students found studying an AS level at the age of 15 too stressful, so many asked to drop the AS level they had chosen to do, including myself. I can say from personal experience, trying to drop an AS level was one of the toughest things you had to do, as Invicta didn't want students to drop their subjects as it reflects badly on themselves. This is all without discussing the alarming amount of my friends and more, including my two closest friends who were effectively forced to leave the school as they didn't achieve the top grades which Invicta felt was the only important thing in their students life. Invicta made you feel like an you were not good enough if you were not an academic genius, that's not even an exaggeration. I know students who were forced to retake A grades. Invicta bullied my friends out of the school by taking away all (what they would call) 'privileges' from the students who they felt were putting a dampener on their reputation for being the highest achieveing grammar school in the region. They would take away their study and free period and put them in isolation away from their friends when they were meant to be relaxing from the stressful pressure of A Levels. School is meant to be one the times you enjoy when you look back on it and Invicta have ruined this for, I would say the majority of the students. The only reason I can say that I stayed on at Invicta is due to all the lovely girls I met there, who I am still friends with the most today (2 years later) even though we live all over the country.

  • Comment Link Wednesday, 11 January 2017 13:28 posted by M

    Chloe I had the same issue in my GCSE. I chose not to revise for my mock so I had a true understanding of my lack of knowledge in certain areas. eg I didn't go into the exam having revised something and luckily that came up then do well. I wanted to know the areas I really needed to work on and the ones I didn't need to revise at all.
    They too put me in isolation and denied me study leave like all others received besides the few who had the study workshops like me.
    The school is really pushy and I'm glad I got out before sixth form. I chose to study at college and achieved the highest grade possible so it wasn't I was a bad student. I just don't work with someone controlling me and pushing me. I also made it into university and have been presented many opportunities since Mrs ***** had an issue with me and some of my friends and chose to make our lives hell she was also very rude to my mother

  • Comment Link Wednesday, 11 January 2017 13:06 posted by Bethan

    I too have unfortunately experienced this after attending MGGS for a number of years, my predicted grades were above the entry requirement for year 13 but after struggling to maintain these I sought support from the sixth form leadership team a number of times, I was brushed off and told I needed to work harder. I was as hardworking as they came, I was elected head of house and subject prefect and carried out a number of extra curricular activities whilst trying to finish my studies. Results day was traumatising, within 30 minutes of opening my envelope I was in the then-deputy heads office being told to 'try invicta'. That was it, there was no room for discussion. I ended up taking the year out (who can find an A2 place in an equally as good school as MGGS in less than a month?) I worked for a year and went to university the same year as my MGGS peers, after completing a UCAS myself with no help from the school. The year off, watching my friends continue their studies while I was isolated and alone was damaging to my mental health. I graduated from university with honours and immediately went on to a postgraduate to obtain my Qualified Teacher Status. I will never work for or condone the behaviour of schools like MGGS. AS levels are not the defining factor of a persons ability, the school refused me support whilst giving me extra curricular and then stripped my place from me but refused to support me once I'd gone. A number of staff at MGGS are nothing like the leadership and I do believe from 7-11 it is an outstanding school but the sixth form is a grade machine and if you aren't exemplary at academia, you aren't MGGS.

  • Comment Link Wednesday, 11 January 2017 11:43 posted by Anon

    When my eldest daughter took her chemistry AS about half the class didn't get the grade required to continue into year 13 at Invicta. We worked out a long time ago that the 'cull' at that point improved the chances of better grades at A2 level for the league tables. The school is simply a grade machine. There are a number of really lovely teachers there who do care about the students but the ethos is harsh and the pastoral care appalling.

    Despite believing in the grammar school system, I wouldn't have sent my children there if I had known then what I know now.

  • Comment Link Wednesday, 11 January 2017 10:47 posted by Anon

    Invicta is a pushy school, there's no denying it. I personally feel lucky that in Sixth Form I somehow managed to slip under the radar. I was on report the first week of Year 7 and continued my school life with a couple isolation's, multiple detentions and endless sanctions. When it got to sixth form I thought they would've jumped at the chance to kick me out, but they never...even being in the lowest sets and not meeting any of my mock exam targets. I feel Invicta sixth form will target you if you're the loudest in the class or if you make a scene around the school. It isn't just about the grades the students achieve, it's about their behaviour too and this combined will most likely result in you getting kicked out of the school. If you want to go to University, that'll obviously break you; otherwise, you pick yourself up and look ahead to better opportunities.

  • Comment Link Wednesday, 11 January 2017 10:35 posted by Ashley Wakeling

    Would also like to note as many others have, most of the teachers are good, understanding and compassionate people. However it is those in power, namely Mr ***** and Mrs ****** (SPECIFICALLY MRS ******) who abuse their authority and will seemingly do anything to break individuals who show anything other than academic perfection. I know of individuals who were removed from the school for having incredible talent in more creative areas, but these were passed aside because their academia wasn't to Invicta's ridiculous and so called 'standards'. Is there any way we can all pool these experiences and take action against these schools?

  • Comment Link Wednesday, 11 January 2017 10:29 posted by Ashley Wakeling

    I was told at the end of Year 12 that I would not be permitted to continue onto year 13 at MGGS after attaining BBDD in my AS levels. I then attended Invicta who forced me to re-start Year 12. They then removed me from the school in March of 2012 after I was predicted BCC for my A level results. If this is unlawful practice, I would be keen to sue to school and particular staff in question as I was forced to attend university a year later as a result. I attended MidKent college and did both AS and A2 levels in one year and achieved BBC then went on to graduate University with a 2:1 this summer just gone. There was no meetings, no counselling, just a report card I had to hand it at the beginning of every single lesson to prove I was attending... Attendance was never an issue. PETER: What a dreadful story, the worst of many of I have heard recently. Certainly if what you have described is correct, both schools have behaved unlawfully, but both will probably maintain you left voluntarily. I am not qualified to give legal advice.

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 10 January 2017 23:35 posted by Lydia

    I attended Invicta from 2008-2015. On our year 12 results day, 3 of my friends were told that their grades were not good enough and they would not be allowed to continue their a levels into year 13. I also know of many others in my year who were told the same thing. Also, a close friend of mine I believe was emotionally bullied out of the school. She had consistently good grades and as soon as there were signs of struggling during her Alevels they put 10x more pressure on her than anyone else. They made her last year at Invicta miserable for no good reason and then told her she would not be able to return for year 13. The school take no consideration of their students' emotions, all they care about Is the grades. I would like to point out that the majority of teachers in the school were amazing but it was the people with power who abused their role and made students their students unhappy.

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 10 January 2017 23:35 posted by anon

    my daughter was told she had to leave at the end of year 12 at Invicta because she didn't get a c in general studies. she didn't fit their model student profile and the head of sixth form wanted her out from the start, despite a good record between year 7-11. Awful sixth form.

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 10 January 2017 23:18 posted by Chloe Randall

    I attended Invicta from 2008-2014, I left after year 12 as they didn't allow back into sixth form and I can honestly say, in regards to my mental health, it's most probably the best thing that school ever did for me. I always achieved high grades and did very well in my gcse results and was a good student. However when I struggled with my alevels in year 12, they began to put far more pressure on me than ever before. During this year I had my free periods taken away, I was not allowed to leave the premesis on my lunch break like other students and during the course of study leave I was required to be in school everyday and put into isolation where I would study for my exams 5 hours a day with pretty much minimal human contact. This was all because I didn't achieve my target grades when I did my MOCK exams. I wasn't a perfect student, but who is? During my time at invicta sixth form I felt bullied, singled out and hassled everyday, which really affected me. During my exams my anxiety hit the roof and would regularly have panic attacks on the morning of my exams.
    I would like to say that a few teachers were there for me emotionally and really inspired me to get through my exams, however the two bullies (Mr ***** 12 and Mrs ******) who made me so unhappy had more authority and most definitely abused their power.

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 10 January 2017 10:57 posted by Becky

    I was chucked out of the Invicta pressure cooker the previous year having had a flawless Year 12, no warnings, but dipped in the ASs. No support, no meetings. Am now at College taking BTEC, so could be considered lucky. However, I still feel a failure.

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