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Displaying items by tag: grammar school - Kent Independent Education Advice
Monday, 04 October 2010 17:34

School Admission Appeals Code

Last Updated August 2015

The School Admission Appeals Code (SAAC) came into operation in 2012 alongside a new  School Admissions Code (SAC). Minor amendments have been made to the latter several times since. These replaced earlier versions and both can be found on the Department for Education website here. The two fundamental changes are firstly that the Codes are now statutory, that is to say they carry the force of law, and secondly, that they are briefer, as government has tried to reduce the bureaucratic expansion of previous versions.

The bodies responsible for school admissions and appeals are called Admission Authorities (AA). The Local Authority (Kent or Medway Council) is the AA for all community or voluntary controlled schools in its area. Academies, Voluntary Aided and Foundation Schools and Free Schools are each the Admission Authority for themselves. 

Where Admission Authorities or Independent Appeal Panels (IAP) contravene the rules of the SAAC, parents have the right to complain. For community, voluntary controlled or voluntary aided schools, the correct path is via the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO). For academies, complaints should be made to the Education Funding Agency. You will find further information on complaints by following the links to the two organisations, but essentially they will not recommend (LGO) or offer (EFA) a fresh appeal just because the AA or IAP has failed to follow the rules to the letter, the failure has to give rise to a possible injustice, i.e. a wrong decision by the Appeal Panel. Kent and Medway statistics for the two organisations give a sense of the relative likelihood of success.

The reduction in the appeals framework, has given AA and IAPs more flexibility in operating but in some cases, has introduced ambiguity in the rules. In others, there is no sanction for breaking the rules.

All Appeal Panel Administrators will send out a guidance leaflet in advance of the appeal to explain to parents the process and what to expect. These vary in quality.

You will find the main section of this website on secondary school appeals here; primary schools here

I have selected some key points from the Code below (my notes in italics). The Paragraph numbers refer to the paragraphs in the Code, although I have deleted some points I consider less relevant to parents.

Timetable

2.1 Admission authorities must set a timetable for organising and hearing appeals that:

a) includes a deadline for lodging appeals which allows appellants at least 20 school days from the date of notification that their application was unsuccessful to prepare and lodge their written appeal;

b) ensures that appellants receive at least 10 school days’ notice of their appeal hearing;

c) includes reasonable deadlines for appellants to submit additional evidence, for admission authorities to submit their evidence, and for the clerk to send appeal papers to the panel and parties;

d) ensures that decision letters are sent within five school days of the hearing wherever possible.

2.2 Admission authorities must publish their appeals timetable on their website by 28 February each year.

2.3 Admission authorities must ensure that appeals lodged by the appropriate deadlines are heard within the following timescales:

a) for applications made in the normal admissions round, appeals must be heard within 40 school days of the deadline for lodging appeals;

b) for late applications, appeals should be heard within 40 school days from the deadline for lodging appeals where possible, or within 30 school days of the appeal being lodged;

c) for applications to sixth forms:

i) where the offer of a place would have been conditional upon exam results, appeals must be heard within 30 school days of confirmation of those results;

ii) where the offer of a place would not have been conditional upon exam results, appeals must be heard within 40 school days of the deadline for lodging appeals;

d) for applications for in-year admissions, appeals must be heard within 30 school days of the appeal being lodged.

2.4 Any appeals submitted after the appropriate deadline must still be heard, in accordance with whatever timescale is set out in the timetable published by the admission authority.

Arrangements

2.5 When a local authority or an admission authority informs a parent of a decision to refuse their child a place at a school for which they have applied, it must include the reason why admission was refused; information about the right to appeal; the deadline for lodging an appeal and the contact details for making an appeal. Parents must be informed that, if they wish to appeal, they have to set out their grounds for appeal in writing. Admission authorities must not limit the grounds on which an appeal can be made.

2.8 Admission authorities must comply with reasonable requests from parents for information which they need to help them prepare their case for appeal.

2.15 Admission authorities must ensure that appeal hearings are held in private, and are conducted in the presence of all panel members and parties. One party must not be left alone with the panel in the absence of the other. (Note: this is too common an example of maladministration, leading to a fresh appeal).

The order of the hearing

2.16 The clerk must notify the parties of the order of the proceedings in advance of the hearing. A suggested order is set out below:

a) case for the admission authority;

b) questioning by appellant(s) and panel;

c) case for the appellant(s);

d) questioning by the admission authority and panel;

e) summing up by the admission authority;

f) summing up by the appellant(s).

From Previous Code: Panel members may ask questions at any time during the hearing to clarify what is being said or if they want to ascertain further information in order to reach a decision. However, they must not attempt to answer questions for the presenting officer or parents.

Multiple Appeals (most cases

2.18 Multiple appeals are when a number of appeals have been received in relation to the same school (this is the norm). Admission authorities must take all reasonable steps to ensure that multiple appeals for a school are heard by one panel with the same members. Where more than one panel has to consider appeals for the same school, each panel must make its own decision independently. A panel hearing multiple appeals must not make decisions on any of those appeals until all the appeals have been heard. (Note: There is still at least one Appeal Panel that substitutes individual panel members for others as the appeals proceed. This is not allowed. Only if two Panels are completely distinct and make their own decisions independently for a multiple appeal can this be allowed; however, in the one case I have been involved it led to decisions which left the school, parents and myself deeply dissatisfied)).

2.19 Multiple appeals may be heard either individually or in groups. Hearing multiple appeals individually means holding a series of consecutive appeal hearings. The panel must ensure that the presenting officer does not produce new evidence in later appeals that was not presented in earlier appeals as this would mean that appellants whose cases were heard earlier in the process would not have the opportunity to consider and respond to the new evidence. If material new evidence comes to light during the questioning of the presenting officer, the clerk must ensure that the panel considers what bearing that evidence may have on all appeals.

2.20 When multiple appeals are grouped (increasingly common for oversubscription situations with both non-selective and grammar schools in Kent, the norm in Medway), the presenting officer’s case is usually heard in the presence of all the appellants at the beginning of the hearing. The appellants’ cases are then heard individually without the presence of other appellants. Where there are a large number of appeals, holding grouped multiple appeals offers efficiencies. (Individual appeals then consider solely the appellants’ personal case and do not hear further evidence about oversubscription issues).

Guiding Principles

2.21 Appeal panels must operate according to the principles of natural justice. Those most directly relevant to appeals are:

a) members of the panel must not have a vested interest in the outcome, or any involvement in an earlier stage, of the proceedings;

b) each side must be given the opportunity to state their case without unreasonable interruption; and

c) written material and evidence must have been seen by all the parties (Too often ignored, producing possible maladministration and injustice. One Foundation that operates grammar school appeals, has regularly provided information to panellists about individual performance not shared with parents. Panel clerks must send the same package of materials to panellists, school Presenting Officer and parents enabling the latter to be sure that their whole case has been submitted. As in 2.15, the Presenting Officer can have no contact with panellists before, during or after the appeal unless parents are also present).

Notification of Decision

2.24 The panel must communicate the decision of each appeal, including the reasons for that decision, in writing to the appellant, the admission authority and the local authority. The clerk or chair must sign the decision letter and send it to the parties as soon as possible after the hearing but not later than five school days, unless there is good reason. In the case of applications outside the normal admissions round, the child must be admitted without unnecessary delay.

2.25 The panel must ensure that the decision is easily comprehensible so that the parties can understand the basis on which the decision was made. The decision letter must contain a summary of relevant factors that were raised by the parties and considered by the panel. It must also give clear reasons for the panel’s decision, including how, and why, any issues of fact or law were decided by the panel during the hearing (Kent County Council is increasingly producing mass produced inadequate decision letters, often not signed by the clerk. This is a matter of serious concern for the LGO, but the EFA tends to regard it as maladministration not indicative of injustice).

Notes and records of proceedings

2.26 The clerk must ensure an accurate record is taken of the points raised at the hearing, including the proceedings, attendance, voting and reasons for decisions.

2.27 Such notes and records will, in most cases, be exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and the Data Protection Act 1998, but admission authorities receiving requests under those Acts for information or data contained in such notes or records should obtain legal advice. (KCC is currently (2013) providing such information to parents on request, but other Panel Administrators will often refuse. It is worth challenging them on the basis of their decision if you are considering a complaint).

Reaching Decisions on Appeals

(Where there is an oversubscription issue – all cases, apart from those grammar schools where there are sufficient vacancies not to be put under pressure of space).

3.5 The panel must uphold the appeal where:

a) it finds that the admission arrangements did not comply with admissions law or had not been correctly and impartially applied, and the child would have been offered a place if the arrangements had complied or had been correctly and impartially applied (this is most often challenged where parents believe that other children have wrongly been given priority or have gained places by fraud), or

b) it finds that the admission of additional children would not prejudice the provision of efficient education or efficient use of resources.

If the Panel decides there would be prejudice if additional children are admitted then:

3.8 The panel must balance the prejudice to the school against the appellant’s case for the child to be admitted to the school. It must take into account the appellant’s reasons for expressing a preference for the school, including what that school can offer the child that the allocated or other schools cannot. If the panel considers that the appellant’s case outweighs the prejudice to the school it must uphold the appeal (It is always a delicate balance deciding how much of your appeal should focus on the issue of oversubscription, rather than simply making the case for admission. Some parents simply ignore the first, whilst others go to town over it. I have considerable experience of how different panels react to the two strategies and so can maximise my clients’ chances of success).

Appeals for grammar schools

3.11 Designated grammar schools are permitted to select children for admission on the basis of academic ability and may leave places unfilled if there are insufficient eligible applicants14. Some admission authorities for grammar schools offer places to those who score highest, others set a pass mark and then apply oversubscription criteria to those applicants that reach the required standard.

3.12 (Only relevant for some grammar schools in Medway, none in Kent) Some admission authorities for grammar schools operate a ‘local review’ process to determine whether children who have, for example, failed the entrance test ought to be deemed as being of grammar school standard. The local review process does not replace a parent’s right of appeal against the refusal of a place at a school for which they have applied (KCC does NOT regard Headteacher Assessments as a Local Review, but as part of the assessment process.  As a result, there are no problems in Kent and so Kent parents need not consider this as an issue.  Sadly, misleading advice about the Code is posted on another website and although I have warned the moderators, they ignored my advice. As a direct result, some parents either pulled out of appeals they may have won, or else turned up and continue to turn up to appeals prepared for an issue that did not arise – See the section on Medway Grammar School Review and Appeals)

3.13 An appeal panel may be asked to consider an appeal where the appellant believes that the child did not perform at their best on the day of the entrance test. In such cases:

a) where a local review process has not been applied, the panel must only uphold the appeal if it is satisfied:

i) that there is evidence to demonstrate that the child is of the required academic standards, for example, school reports giving Year 5/Year 6 SAT results or a letter of support from their current or previous school clearly indicating why the child is considered to be of grammar school ability; and

ii) where applicable, that the appellant’s arguments outweigh the admission authority’s case that admission of additional children would cause prejudice.

b) where a local review process has been followed, the panel must only consider whether each child’s review was carried out in a fair, consistent and objective way and if there is no evidence that this has been done, the panel must follow the process in paragraph 3.13(a) above (This is only relvant in medway, see Medway Review).

3.14 In either case the panel must not devise its own methods to assess suitability for a grammar school place unrelated to the evidence provided for the hearing (the panel is not qualified make it own judgements about academic ability, but must reach decisions on the academic evidence provided. In the same way it is not able to make an assessment of written work submitted, nor interview the child, if present (not recommended) to determine their ability).

3.15 If a panel has to consider an appeal for an in-year applicant where no assessment has taken place, it must follow the process in paragraph 3.13(a) above.

Infant Class size appeals

It is very difficult to win an appeal where infant class sizes are an issue. See here for further details. 

4.4 The panel must consider all the following matters:

a) whether the admission of an additional child/additional children would breach the infant class size limit (30 children wth one class teacher);

b) whether the admission arrangements (including the area’s co-ordinated admission arrangements) complied with the mandatory requirements of the School Admissions Code and Part 3 of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998;

c) whether the admission arrangements were correctly and impartially applied in the case(s) in question; and

d) whether the decision to refuse admission was one which a reasonable admission authority would have made in the circumstances of the case.

4.6 The panel may only uphold the appeal where:

a) it finds that the admission of additional children would not breach the infant class size limit; or

b) it finds that the admission arrangements did not comply with admissions law or were not correctly and impartially applied and the child would have been offered a place if the arrangements had complied or had been correctly and impartially applied; or

c) it decides that the decision to refuse admission was not one which a reasonable admission authority would have made in the circumstances of the case.

4.8 The panel must dismiss the appeal where:

a) it finds that the admission arrangements did comply with admissions law and were correctly and impartially applied; or

b) it finds that the admission arrangements did not comply with admissions law or were not correctly and impartially applied but that, if they had complied and had been correctly and impartially applied, the child would not have been offered a place;

and it finds that the decision to refuse admission was one which a reasonable admission authority could have made.

Monday, 04 October 2010 00:00

Kent Grammar School Appeals

Last updated March 2019 

 

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I have retired from my appeals advisory service, but currently run  a Telephone Advice Service, which in the autumn term enables me to advise parents about their choices on the secondary admission form, including those whose children have not passed the Kent or Medway tests, and are submitting appeals in March. I also support In-Year appeals and admission with advice throughout the year. I no longer give appeals advice in the Spring or summer. 

As well as this section, I recommend that you read my general information page on school appeals .  You will have received an appeal form with your decision letter in March.

You will find data for 2018 Appeals in Kent and Medway for 2018 entry here and more information about individual Kent schools here

Kent and Medway grammar school testing takes place in September. Many Kent children who have not initially passed the Kent Test are given a second chance through the Kent Headteacher assessment (HTA) process  in October (although this is by headteacher recommendation and parents are not made aware of whether their children are included).  It is not always advantageous to have gone  down this route for, if unsuccessful, the Report of the HTA is presented to any appeal panel, and can prove counterproductive. Medway parents are offered a Review of any non selective decision in November, but are advised to read the Review section of this website before doing so. You will find a fuller explanation of the two processes through the links. These stages take place before the selective decision is confirmed.

In any case, parents need to be aware that if their child is unsuccessful in the test, or in HTA or Medway Review, there is no right to appeal until after school allocation, 1st March (for 2019 entry). You cannot appeal against a non selective decision in general and your right to appeal is to a particular school which has not offered your child a place. Whilst appeals usually begin in April/May, some may not be heard until late June.

Many grammar schools admit all applicants who have achieved the selective standard, or those living nearest where there is oversubscription; but others select the highest scorers in the assessment tests (locally known as ‘super-selectives’).

There are three main situations with regard to grammar school appeals:

1) The child has not passed the eleven plus and there are spaces available

2) The child has passed the eleven plus and the school is full;

3) The child has not passed the eleven plus and the school is full.

First piece of advice is – don’t panic. You will not get an earlier appeal or a better hearing by sending in your case early. If you are not ready, make sure you record your appeal by the closing date, using such words as “I am appealing for….... I will send in my detailed case when it is ready”. This enables you to take advice or plan your appeal without additional pressure (it is already stressful enough!), but make sure from the school website you know when the appeals are being heard and ensure your further information  is submitted in good time. If yours is one of the few academies that organises early appeals, such as Highsted and Borden grammar schools, it is essential to get the appeal lodged early, for although there is no statutory time limit for appealing, lodging a late appeal may find the school full after others have been heard.

There is a basic division between grammar schools run by the county (community schools and voluntary controlled) and the academies, foundation and voluntary aided schools that form the majority. County run grammar schools use KCC's own Appeals service run independently of the education department. The other schools and academies each have their own approach to appeals: some using a county independent appeal panel; others engaging an independent panel administrator to run appeals for them; the remainder (a small minority) choosing their own appeal clerk and panel members. Some wish to admit additional pupils, others resist strongly. These produce a wide range of success rates, both from county to county and for individual schools within counties. I advise you, in the case of academies, foundation or VA schools who use an administrator or provide their own Independent Appeal Panel, to contact the school which may be willing to offer the school perspective. Some grammar schools are regularly oversubscribed with successful candidates, particularly in West Kent. If you are deprived of a place on this basis, you still have the right to appeal.

Parents can only appeal to a school they have named on the application form, so choice of schools remains critical. However, in Kent if you choose not to apply for a particular grammar school, you still have the right to apply using the In Year Admission Process after the closing date for acceptance of offers (usually late March) and if turned down because your child has not taken the test (in which case they will be asked to sit it), or has not passed the test, or the school is full, you can appeal. However, this route carries additional risk if the school is likely to be full after the normal round of appeals. 

I am often asked what scores are likely to be successful in a grammar school appeal. This is an impossible question to answer for Appeal Panels will wish to take other factors into account. These may include: what special circumstances do you have that will convince a panel there has been a miscarriage (there is no point in producing peripheral issues); what alternative evidence do you have to demonstrate that your child is of grammar school ability; is the school oversubscribed or does it need additional pupils; was there a HTA; is the school 'superselective'; is it in East Kent or West Kent; what support is forthcoming from the primary school; does your child have Special Education Needs? Or even, what is the make up of the Panel members (not known until a week or so before the appeal)? You are most unlikely to achieve success at any Kent appeal if no score is above the 106 of 2017 entry. You are most unlikely to achieve success in West Kent without scores close to the cut off point.

Possible relevant factors that parents may put forward include: (1) the selection panel was missing information which can lead to a different decision – e.g. medical condition or family circumstances not reported which affected the child's performance, but can be demonstrated; (2) independent proof that your child is of grammar school ability (3) information provided was incorrect – you have the right to see all relevant documentation. You may also succeed if none of these apply but marks are near the cut off and you find a sympathetic appeal panel. If none of the above applies, your chances are low; so plan an alternative route for your child’s secondary education – although each year I am delighted by successful appeals which originally looked unpromising.

Kent Grammar Schools

At all Kent grammar school appeals against a non-selective decision, the Kent test scores and any HTA report will be distributed to the Panel and parents. This also has the effect of eliminating false parental claims about the results. Some parents have not seen the HTA document before, so make sure you ask to see it before writing your appeal, as this is likely to have an influence on your case.

The Panel will also be told the school to which you were allocated on 1st March. This presents a problem for some parents of children who have passed the Kent Test making multiple applications to grammar schools. Where the school is non-super selective, if you are awarded a grammar school lower on your list, the Panel may decide that because the school is oversubscribed your needs have already been met by the lower school, and give preference to those without a grammar school. In at least one area, where the panel tends to be drawn from a small group of panellists, they see appeals from parents who have put down only one grammar school to benefit from this policy. However, the panel has become wise and will not look on these as a priority, sometimes leaving the child without a grammar school. Life can become difficult!

My Services

Probably the most important lesson I  have learned in my thirteen years of extensive work across Kent and Medway  is that not only admission patterns vary across both Authorities, but that appeal practice, best strategies and likely outcomes are equally variable.  My tracking of appeals over the years means I have a wide experience of different scenarios and panellists, although even I am sometimes surprised by decision making, hence my extensive experience of successful complaints through the Local Government Ombudsman and latterly the Education Funding Agency for academies.

I have now retired from my full personal appeals service, which as you might expect in Kent and Medway, has seen the majority of my work in supporting parents with appeals for grammar schools, using my unrivalled knowledge of the local situation and my expertise and lengthy experience in Appeal work. I have achieved multiple success for places at every grammar school in the County, although the level of difficulty varies. Make no mistake, a school appeal is time consuming and stressful and I am sorry I am not able to support this. 

I will still offer local knowledge and experience that is unique in Kent and Medway. If looking at personal service consultants, beware those that use a template - appeal panellists know a third party is behind the appeal, will be prejudiced against these, and in any event, cases are individual and cannot be packaged! There are also too many horror stories about consultants without local knowledge getting it spectacularly wrong.

As with all pages on this website, this page is packed with free information to support parents. 

If you wish to contact me regarding a Kent grammar school appeal in the Autumn, please first speak to your child's primary school to obtain their scores in the Kent test. Feel free to email me with a brief outline of your situation (including test marks) and a contact phone number, and I will get back to you as soon as possible. You may wish to use my very popular Telephone Consultation Service I any case, I will  confirm whether or not I feel it is worthwhile going ahead with an appeal.

There are number of websites and books offering advice on how to succeed at appeal. Most of these offer general advice, not tailored to specific schools or local authorities, and so are of limited value. There is no substitute for local knowledge, which is why I confine my operation to Kent & Medway.

A good website for general information on admissions and appeals is: eleven plus exams. However, you need to treat the contributions with caution. It is  Buckinghamshire based but whilst the school appeal advice varies considerably from the many varieties in Kent, it can be very helpful. There is also a lot of forum discussion about West Kent issues, often very different from those in the rest of the county. You will find occasional contributions from me under the name of Peter, but I have removed some contributions as I don't wish to be associated with those unedited comments on the forum which are mischievous. References to this website are removed by the volunteer monitors who work for a very commercial operation, on the basis that www.kentadvice.co.uk is itself commercial. Just count how few of the 610 pages of information, news and comment on this site are selling my limited services, or refer to them! 

Reminder; I only take on clients resident in Kent and Medway Local Authority areas for state schools in those local authorities, as my work is heavily centred on local knowledge of how our schools and appeal systems work. My furthest enquiry this year is from a family living in Malta, wishing to appeal to a grammar school in Birmingham!

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Last Revised February 2019

Review

You will find data for 2018 Appeals in Kent and Medway entryhere and more information including oversubscription and appeal statistics for individual Medway schools here

If your child is unsuccessful in the Medway tests you are entitled to apply for a Review of the decision, designed to select another 2% of children. However, for 2019 admission it reached another  new low at 0.12% of the cohort (2 out of 78 Medway boys who went to Review and 2 out of 81 girls, no private school or out of Medway children out of 26). For 2017 it was 0.37%, (4 out of 74 boys and 8 out of 87 girls). You will find overall figures for 2017 here (2018 to follow shortly), bringing the total up to a pass rate of 22.8% against a target of 25%. For 2018 entry, this process identified just a further 12 successful Medway children (only 0.37%) out of a total of 161 applicants  for Review, and for 2017 it was 24 out of 148.  

Current legislation is in a mess, and if you apply for a Review and are unsuccessful, the rules say you can only have your case heard by an Independent Appeal Panel if you can show the Review process was not fair, objective or consistent. You will find the legal background at Code of Practice for School Appeals, paras 3.12 and 3.13. I do not know how parents can weigh up which option to choose on this reading!  However, I attempt to summarise the situation below that may be helpful.

The Review procedure for 2019 entry was as follows. Review Panels, each comprising two teachers from different schools, looked at three pieces of work from each of English, mathematics and science submitted by the primary schools (usually but not always within books), together with standardised test results (including Key Stage 1) taken in the schools and a grammar/non selective recommendation from the primary school (there is no indication on the Panel decision sheet of how this information was used). The Panel were not given any other information although parents are asked to complete a form (which panellists were instructed to ignore) giving their reasons for asking for a Review.  Each Panel then made a decision based on the work of the children they were reviewing and the total of successful reviews for Medway state school children turned out to be 0.12 % well below the planned 2% which has been generally followed in previous years. There were no successes for private or out of Medway school children.

The problems are compounded by the Review application Form R1 that invites parents to give their reasons for requesting a Review. It is also made clear that  parents should not send in information or documentation additional to their written statement (this cuts out medical evidence or other special reasons for underperformance, including prolonged absence from school which would have an effect on quality of work submitted).  However, the form also states that decisions will be based on the evidence supplied by the school, implying (confirming) that these parental reasons will be ignored. Further the primary school headteacher is forbidden to write letters of support or to provide information, other than KS1 results, Year 5  levels and a high/grammar recommendation. In 2008, following a complaint by me, the ombudsman criticised this process as the combination of the two procedures denies parents any opportunity to put forward their case, which flies in the face of natural justice. However, in a 2010 complaint the Ombudsman found this contradiction was reasonable!

I have received many enquiries on the value of the words on the R1 Review Request form. All I can get from Medway Council is that:

Those carrying out the Review process should see the parental statement (and no more), just to place the academic evidence in context. The review panel will (then) make their decision based on a consideration of the academic evidence provided by the school. 

 This moves us no further forward as if parents have reasons for underperformance, no Review Panel should/could accept these without evidence that would be supplied by additional materials. In any case, the Panel decision is based (solely?) on academic evidence supplied by the school. I am very disappointed that Medway Council is unable to give proper guidance to parents on the value of their statement on Form R1, preferring to leave them in confusion. My own view is that although Panels are not be able to take the statements into consideration, parents should put reasons for underperformance down as it is often relevant for appeals (see below). Do not mention specific schools. Please feel free to use my telephone consultation service to discuss this. 

 Consideration of the Review Process at Appeal
 In all cases, if the child has been unsuccessful at Review, the school presents the Review results sheet (R2B) to the Independent Appeal Panel. It also provides the R1 Form, when an unhelpful comment by parents, written in good faith, can damage your appeal case. There is also an R2(A) which is presented, containing the information (above) submitted by the headteacher.

 At an Appeal, parents have the right to present whatever additional information they wish, to try and persuade the Panel that their child is of a grammar school standard. This is likely to include reasons why the child underperformed and alternative evidence of his or her grammar school ability. However, the statutory Code of Practice states that where a Review has taken place, the only grounds for appeal are that the Review was not fair, objective or consistent. In other words, according to the rules, panels cannot consider alternative evidence that the child is of a grammar school standard, or that there were reasons for underperformance on the day, unless they are satisfied that the Review process was unfair (but see below) 

 The real problem about Review often comes at appeal, as Appeal Panels for the different schools adopt different interpretations of the Code, sometimes adopting different views in different years.

 From entry in 2010 for all subsequent years, clients of mine persuaded Appeal Panels at Chatham Grammar Boys & Chatham Grammar Girls that the Review process was inherently unfair. Since then, Appeal Panels at Chatham Girls have ignored the issue and just considered the evidence put forward by parents. At Holcombe, the 2018 process was a shambles as explained first here, and finally here. I have no idea what will happen for 2019 entry. 

Clients of mine have persuaded the Panels at Sir Joseph Williamson's over the years, including 2016, that the Medway Reviews were unfair – I believe my arguments have been decisive in some years, and so parents did have their academic cases considered. For 2014 entry, the Panel, faced with heavy oversubscription of qualified applicants, decided that in the overwhelming majority of cases, the Review process was fair. You would have needed a very strong set of personal circumstances to overcome this. For 2015, 2016, 2017  and 2018 entry, the Review process was unfair in some cases!

The number of children, initially non selective, who were offered places at Rochester Grammar or Rainham Mark is negligible (for 2018 entry it was none), the fairness of the Review process providing an initial filter.

Panels at Fort Pitt  for 2016, 2017 and 2018 entry the school was heavily over subscribed so it was no surprise it was considered fair. 

Summary of Issues and Strategies for Review Process

  • If you go for Review and are unsuccessful, an assessment of your child’s work is sent to the appeal panel. I believe that because markers want to create clear water between those who are found selective and those who are not, Review reports are often unduly harsh and have a negative effect on Panels.
  • The Admissions brochure, like the parental advice, is ambiguous on the issue of whether parental reasons are taken into account, in spite of being criticised by the Ombudsman who considers parents should have the right to have their reasons presented to the Review Panel Review. The reality is, they are not, but can surface at appeal and count against you. 
  • The above analysis by school  suggests you should go for Review if you are considering a place at the two Chatham Girls. For Rainham Mark and Rochester,  chances of a successful appeal if your child is initially unsuccessful are usually slim (practically nil), and so I am unable to advise you which decision to take. For Holcombe I have no idea what is to come. 
  • For Fort Pitt and the Maths School, it may be dependent  on the level of oversubscription - Fort Pitt has found it fair in the past few years ;  the Math unfair for some even though oversubscribed.  
  • If you go for Review and are unsuccessful, an assessment of your child’s work is sent to the appeal panel. I believe that because markers want to create clear water between those who are found selective and those who are not, Review reports are often unduly harsh and have a negative effect on Panels.
  • Medway Council works hard to try and make the Review process fair, objective and consistent, following each previous year's experience, to meet the Code and ensure that Appeals cannot consider parental reasons. I believe that the process is inherently flawed and can be successfully challenged - but it is increasingly difficult! The reality is that if an Appeal Panel is determined to find the process fair, it is very difficult to budge it.  
 

Warning on Medway School Admissions

Schools are not allowed to know the position you have placed them on the Application Form when drawing up rankings of children to determine who is awarded a place. However, for 2014 entry the whole application form,including reasons for applying for a school was sent to Admission Authorities to be provided as evidence for appeal panels when considering appeals. This practice has continued for 2015 admission and subsequently, although I regard it as a seriously retrograde step placing parents in an invidious position regarding their choice of schools. It is certainly wrong according to the spirit, if not the letter, of the mandatory School Admissions Code,that does not allow schools to know in which order the parents have placed them on the form for admission purposes.  However, I am told it is legal and other Authorities (not Kent) also use it when parents appeal for a school place in March, It is possible that some schools which are their own admission authorities (including academies) may choose not to present the information to Independent Appeal Panels, but for 2016 appeals nearly all did. If you are likely to have to appeal, you therefore now have to consider order of preference on the Common Application Form much  more carefully than in previous years, as the school and appeal panel will now see all your preferences and be entitled to ask the reason for them.

Further, there is a section for you to provide the reason for applying to each school separately on the Form.  This used to be confidential to the school applied for and continues to be so, unless you appeal, when as it is on the common application form it is shared with all schools you are appealing to. Obviously if you put down strong reasons for applying to one school it may reflect badly on you if appealing for another! My advice is therefore clear. Do not put any entry in this section, unless you are applying on health grounds (or similar) on which you consider your child needs to attend a particular school, in which case you would also need to provide strong medical evidence to substantiate your claim. Otherwise, reasons are completely ignored for allocating places in the admission procedure as they do not form part of the criteria or rules by which places are allocated.

 Last Updated September 2018: Updating in Progress

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Please note you will find considerable additional information about many Medway schools by entering their name in the search engine of this website, or by visiting Individual Schools

 

 

 

News and Information Items relevant to Medway Test and Grammar School Admission 

Medway Test Results October 2018

Further Analysis of Medway Test and Review Results October 2018

Missed Registration for the Kent and Medway Test; and Illness at the Time of the Test

Medway Secondary School Admissions 2020 (awaiting update)

Oversubscription and Vacancies in Medway Grammar Schools: Allocation 2019

Medway Individual Schools Information (including oversubscription and appeals data)

Missed Registration for the Kent and Medway Test; and Illness at the Time of the Test

Ban on Late Testing for Medway Grammar Schools

 This page has a variety of information and links, including information on individual schools. 

For details of the Review and appeal process, go to Review.

Medway children are selected for grammar school using different tests and a different process of selection to that operated in Kent; see below.

For children in most primary schools, they will take the Tests in their own school  with some schools arranging the tests for the following Saturday. Details of school by school arrangements can be found in on the Medway School Admission arrangements page of the Council website. Children from outside Medway and at Kings School, Rochester, will take the tests in independent test centres 

Medway Test result and Review statistics for 2013 to 2018 entry are here.

Consult the article on In Year Admissions if you are looking for a new school at other times.

TIMETABLE

Key Action
Key Dates in Scheme
Opening Date for Registration for Medway Tests 9am Monday 3 June 2019
Closing Date for Registration for Medway Tests 5pm Monday 1 July 2019
Secondary school applications open
9am Monday 9 September 2019
Medway Test Date for children attending Medway primary, junior and independent schools which have opted to test in own school during the week Tuesday 17/ Wednesday 18 September 2019
Medway Test date for children attending Medway primary, junior and independent schools which have opted to test in own school on Saturday and those children from out of area and those Medway schools that have not opted to test in own school (will be tested in test centres). Saturday 21 September 2019
Parents informed of test results Monday 7 October 2019
Closing Date for review requests Monday 14 October 2019
Parents informed of review results posted by Wednesday 23 October 2019
Secondary School Applications Close 5 p.m. Thursday 31 October 2019
For later dates go to here
 
For the 2016 Medway Test, the Council switched to new providers, CEM, which has a different perspective to the previous providers. I was very surprised to see the previous strong bias towards girls which I had anticipated would expand completely vanished! 
 
Children take three tests: verbal reasoning, mathematics and extended writing. The first two tests are multiple choice, the English is a single piece of extended writing, usually to an essay title, but it can be any Key Stage 2 theme. The scores on each test are standardised according to the scores of Medway children taking the tests, so that a score of 100 is allocated to the average child who took the test. Scores then range from 70 to 140.
The scores from the three tests are then added together in the following way: verbal reasoning score given a weighting of one, and the maths and English scores given a weighting of two, so for example:

EXAMPLE:

Test
Score
Weighted Score
Verbal Reasoning 110 110
Mathematics 98 196
Extended Writing 100 200
Total Score 506
 
The pass score is then determined to admit 23% of Medway children (those from out of Medway are found selective in the same way, but their scores do not influence the calculations).  In 2013 the pass score was 509 so this child would not have passed. The Medway test pass mark for entry for 2013 it was 509, for 2014 it was 528 for 2015, 525, for 2016 it was 521, for 2017 it was 513, for 2018 it was 495 and for 2019 it was 492. The wide variation in pass scores is NO indication of the difficulty of the tests. It is a result of what is called local standardisation and is strongly influenced by the proportion of Medway children taking the test which varies from year to year.
 
I am very critical of this pattern of scoring, as Extended Writing is the least reliable of all tests used for selection processes, according to NFER who are the country's leading experts in test setting. Because it receives a double weighting, the result dwarfs that of verbal reasoning, a good predictor of academic success according to NFER. As a result, a child can gain a pass on the strength of a single strong essay, or similarly lose a place because they have misunderstood the extended writing question. There is no minimum mark required in any test. For these reasons, different children will perform well in Kent and Medway and so it may well be worth taking both sets of entrance tests, to secure a grammar school assessment (although each is only accepted in the Authority in which it is taken, except that the two Chatham grammar schools accept a pass in the Kent Test).
 
For 2017 entry, Medway Council changed its Test provider to a company called CEM. As a result and, I don't understand why, the previous bias towards girls passing the test vanished, although more girls than boys took the test (1000 girls against 921 boys). Also the test no longer favoured older children, although 1094 older children from the first half of the school year took it, against 878 in the second half. 
 
THE REVIEW PROCESS
 
Where children have taken the Medway Test and been unsuccessful, parents have the right to request a review of the decision within the next week. Results will be out in time for you to complete your SCAF. Parents will need to think carefully about whether to apply for a Review, as if unsuccessful, you may find yourself barred from making an appeal on academic grounds and in any case, the Review documents are presented to the appeal panel. For more information see Medway grammar school Review and appeal.
 
Consult the article on In Year Admissions if you are looking for a new school at other times. You may wish also to consult the page on Review and Appeal. As well as the issue with the full application form now being presented by most schools to the appeal panel, Medway Council also makes available the results of the Kent Test if taken, which are also usually presented. 
 

Warning on Medway School Admissions

Schools are not allowed to know the position you have placed them on the Application Form when drawing up rankings of children to determine who is awarded a place. However, for 2014 entry the whole application form,including reasons for applying for a school was sent to Admission Authorities to be provided as evidence for appeal panels when considering appeals. I understand this practice will continue for 2015 admission and subsequently, although I regard it as a seriously retrograde step placing parents in an invidious position regarding their choice of schools. It is certainly wrong according to the spirit, if not the letter, of the mandatory School Admissions Code,that does not allow schools to know in which order the parents have placed them on the form for admission purposes.  However, I am told it is legal and other Authorities (not Kent) also use it when parents appeal for a school place in March, It is possible that some schools which are their own admission authorities (including academies) may choose not to present the information to Independent Appeal Panels, but for 2014 appeals nearly all did. If you are likely to have to appeal, you therefore now have to consider order of preference on the Common Application Form much  more carefully than in previous years, as the school and appeal panel will now see all your preferences and be entitled to ask the reason for them.

Further, there is a section for you to provide the reason for applying to each school separately on the Form.  This used to be confidential to the school applied for and continues to be so, unless you appeal, when as it is on the common application form it is shared with all schools you are appealing to. Obviously if you put down strong reasons for applying to one school it may reflect badly on you if appealing for another! My advice is therefore clear. Do not put any entry in this section, unless you are applying on health grounds (or similar) on which you consider your child needs to attend a particular school, in which case you would also need to provide medical evidence to substantiate your claim. Otherwise, reasons are completely ignored for allocating places in the admission procedure as they do not form part of the criteria or rules by which places are allocated.

 
Kent and Medway
Kent parents who apply for a Medway grammar school place and need to go to Review (see below) will only receive the outcome a few days before the Kent SCAF needs to be submitted. You cannot appeal for a Medway grammar school place unless it is named on the SCAF. 

The Schools

A grammar school assessment does not necessarily secure a place at the school of one's choice. There is further information about each school in the Individual Schools section of this website, including the historical pattern of applications and appeals. With three girls' grammars and two for boys, there is greater pressure on places for the latter.  
 
Chatham Grammar for Girls has taken all local children who have passed for many years so, if your daughter has passed the Medway test and  if the school is named on your application form above any non selective school you name, you can be confident you will offered a grammar school place if you live in Medway. They will also offer places to children who have passed the Kent Test or even if they have failed the Medway Test or not taken it, any other nationally recognised selection tests (unspecified). Even if your child has only taken the Kent Test and not passed, you have the right to appeal to Chatham girls. Historically the school does not take note of whether the girl has been to Review or not. 
 
Fort Pitt Grammar (girls) reduced its Planned Admission Number to 120 from 190 some years ago. It has now changed its oversubscription criteria to give priority to children living within two miles and then on the Hoo Peninsula together with Cuxton Winning an appeal has been difficult and the school appeal panel applied the rule about unsuccessful Reviews (see above). With steadily rising rolls in Medway there was oversubscription in 2016-2018 For details go to Individual Schools, Medway.  
 
Holcombe Grammar School  (previously Chatham Grammar Boys). The school will offer places to children who have passed the Kent Test or even if they have failed the Medway Test or not taken it, any other nationally recognised selection tests (unspecified) on the same basis as those who have passed the Medway Test. Even if your child has only taken the Kent Test and not passed, you have the right to appeal to Holcombe Grammar. Otherwise I have no idea of what policy the school will take on any matter after the 2018 appeals shambles. You will find my first article on this here, and the final one here
 
Rainham Mark Grammar School (mixed) until entry in 2017 awarded places on high scores, but for 2018 admissions onward, it has switched to awarding the large majority of places to those living closest. For 2018 there were 33 grammar qualified first choices turned away. It is difficult to win an appeal, with just 5 places being awarded in each of the recent years.
 
The Rochester Grammar School (girls) is regularly oversubscribed and initially takes primarily those girls with the highest scores. For 2014 nearly all girls who had passed and applied were offered a place, but for 2015 admission, the cut off rose sharply to 535, the pass score being  525, and even further for 2016, to 539, the pass score being 521. For 2017 cut off was 546 with pass score 513; and for 2018 it was 520, the pass score being 495.
Sir Joseph Williamson's Mathematical School (boys) takes those boys who live nearest. Has increased PAN to 180 for 2018, but offered 203 places.  Always heavily oversubscribed with local boys, some on  the Hoo Peninsula not gaining places, except some on appeal. 
 
The Howard School (boys) is not a grammar school, being technically bilateral (two parts, one selective and one non-selective) but caters for grammar ability boys. The grammar section has now dwindled, and most boys in this part of the school were originally non-selective but passed an internal test after being accepted into the school. Admission to the grammar section is no longer dependent on the Medway Test. 

Note: This is the most visited page on the website, having been visited 335, 374 times since it was first published eight years ago, twice as many as the second most popular page,  Kent Secondary School Admissions,  followed by Medway Grammar Schools and Medway Secondary Schools

Last updated June 2019 

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Please note you will find considerable additional information about many Kent schools by entering their name in the search engine of this website, or by visiting Individual Schools

Once again parents will be able to register for the Kent Test online via www.kent.gov.uk/ola by 3rd July 2019. If they register online and provide an e-mail address, they will receive their child’s assessment decision via e-mail on 17th October 2019. I do recommend this process as each year postal results for some children are delayed.  

News and Information Items relevant to Kent Test and Grammar School Admission 

Kent Test Results October 2018

Further Analysis of Kent Test Results October 2018  (to follow)

The Conundrum of Kent Test scores 2014 solved

Missed Registration for the Kent and Medway Test; and Illness at the Time of the Test

Kent Secondary School Admissions 2020

Oversubscription and Vacancies in Kent Grammar Schools: Allocation 2019

Kent Individual Schools Information

Application Process for 2019 entry

Key Action

Scheme Date

Registration for testing opens

Monday 3 June 2019

Closing date for registration

Wednesday 3 July 2019

Test date for pupils in Kent primary schools

Thursday 12 September 2019

Test date for out of county pupils

Saturday 14 September 2019

Assessment decision sent to parents

Thursday 17 October 2019

Then as for Kent Secondary Schools Page

 KCC publishes a Kent Test Familiarisation Booklet which gives guidance and examples of questions of the type used in the Kent Test. 

Test Specification for 2020 entry

Kent candidates will take the tests on Thursday 12 September 2019. External candidates will take them on Saturday 14 September 2019. Everyone will take the tests on one day. 

The first test will be an English and Maths paper in multiple-choice format with a separate machine readable (OMR) answer sheet. The English test is the first section. The whole test will take an hour to administer, plus any admin time before formal timing begins. Each sub-test will take 25 minutes, and will be preceded by a five minute practice exercise. Children will be required to stop at the end of the English section and wait for instructions before they start the Maths paper. The English will involve a comprehension exercise plus some additional questions drawn from a set designed to test literacy skills.

The second test will be a Reasoning paper in multiple-choice format. It will take about an hour* to administer, including the practice drills and questions. It will contain a verbal reasoning section and a non-verbal reasoning section of roughly the same length, with the verbal reasoning being the first part. The non-verbal reasoning will be split into four short sections, administered and timed individually (as in the previous tests).

There will still be a writing exercise which will not be marked but may be taken into consideration in borderline cases referred to the local Head Teacher Assessment Panel. 40 minutes will be allowed for the writing task, including 10 minutes to plan the piece.

 *Exactly how long the reasoning test takes will depend on how quickly the practice drill and questions are completed before each timed section.  

 Scores:

Scores will still be age standardised, using a national standardisation. The score range on each paper will be 69 or 70 to 140 or 141 as now, so the maximum aggregate standardised score would be 380 or 382.

 Threshold: 

Until Kent pupils have taken the tests it will not be possible to predict the threshold for grammar school but it is probable that it will be set in a similar way, using a minimum aggregate score and a minimum level for a single score.

Wherever the threshold is set, those schools which rank children by aggregate score for admission will continue to work down their list of applicants in score order, taking the highest scorers first, so the only effect of the changes will be that the scores involved will be different because fewer tests are involved. 

Appeals:

You cannot appeal against a Kent Test Result, only against a decision not to be awarded a grammar school place you have applied for. 

 
Disability leading to a need to make adjustments to the Kent Test
Kent County Council has published its Guidelines for Requesting Reasonable Adjustments to 11 plus Test materials or the granting of additional time in the Test here.  You will find the guidance below the form. The keys are that it is the school that makes any request, not the parents; it has to be made in good time (there is a 24th June deadline given on the past information at this link); and that appropriate evidence has to be provided of a special education need which shows the school is "providing evidence to enable the LA to consider whether a child is disabled within the terms of the Equality Act 2010, and whether adjustments to 11+ materials or conditions may be appropriate. It is essential that you provide clear, concise, up-to-date evidence. Requests for adjustments will not be considered where no evidence is provided or the evidence is out of date".  Please note that a common outcome is for the child to be given extra time in the written test, which is of limited value as this is only taken into account in the event of a Headteacher Assessment, see below
 
Kent Test Results
 When results are sent out on 12th October, they confirm whether the child has been found selective or not, together with the results of the Individual Tests. Those who consider appealing are in for a long wait, as you cannot appeal until you are allocated a school on 2nd March 2020. The first appeals are generally heard by the beginning of May. Feel sorry for those given an assessment on 12th October 2019, whose appeal is not heard until the middle of June 2020!

The pass mark is set to select 21% of Kent children and may vary from year to year. This variation does not mean that the test varies in standard. Kent County Council set a new test structure for 2015 entry explained in the Test Specification above, and some of the articles whose links are provided at the beginning of this article.

All parents of Kent grammar school applicants will have their decision letters placed in the post on 12th October 2019 to arrive on doorsteps on the 13th.  For those parents (the large majority) who registered on line and provided a valid email address, an email will be sent after 4pm, on the 12th October. With some 16,000 results to be sent out, this sometimes takes considerable time.  For those parents who registered online but did not provide a valid email address they will be able to log onto the KCC website to view the decisions after 5pm. These contain just the pass/fail decision, for individual marks contact your primary school. Please note, I have now retired from offering individual advice.

Consult the article on In Year Admissions if you are looking for a new grammar school at other times.

Note: Under the Data Protection Act, Schedule 7, Section 9, candidates do not have the right to see their test papers once they have been handed in. The Freedom of Information Act does not override the Data Protection Act in this matter.  However,  KCC officers are happy to check scores. 

Headteacher Assessment (HTA)

Primary school headteachers are provided with the results at the beginning of October. They have the right to apply for a 'Headteacher Assessment' (often called Headteacher Appeal) for children who have not reached the pass standard. This is carried out on a confidential basis without parents being informed.  A Panel of headteachers then considers a selection of work submitted by the primary school, the English written paper taken as part of the Kent Test and a report containing evidence from the Primary headteacher.  This process produces a further 4%(in theory, around 6% in practice) to bring the total of 25% across Kent. Children from outside Kent are considered on the same basis but do not count in the statistical exercise. If the child is successful in the headteacher assessment, then the decision is regarded as a pass on an equal footing with those who gained automatic selection through test results. This means that the child is found selective and this decision is recognised at all Kent grammar schools. Importantly, Government has confirmed that this process is an assessment, not a review. The difference in definition is important as government legislation places severe constraints on applicants applying for a Review in authorities such as Medway (go to Review).

PLEASE NOTE THAT THERE ARE ONLY TWO REASONS ACCEPTED FOR TAKING THE KENT TESTS AFTER THE DUE DATE:

  •  1) YOUR CHILD IS ILL FOR ONE OR BOTH TESTS AND THIS IS CONFIRMED BY A DOCTOR'S LETTER;
     2) YOU MOVE INTO KENT AFTER 1 JULY 2019 AND SUBMIT YOUR SCAF BY 10 DECEMBER
  • OTHERWISE YOU HAVE TO WAIT UNTIL APRIL AND SUBMIT AN APPLICATION TO INDIVIDUAL SCHOOLS THROUGH THE IN YEAR ADMISSION PROCESS WHO WILL ARRANGE TESTING (Contact KCC admissions to confirm process). 

A total of 26% out of the whole cohort of children living in Kent were found selective for 2018 entry. The proportion of children in the west of the county taking the tests is lower than in the east, whilst the proportion passing is higher. You will find comprehensive statistics here  (I still do not have full 2019 statistics due to a long term issue with errors and delays in responding to my FOI, but you will find my initial assessment here). 

  • Six Kent grammar schools also offer places through their own tests. These are: Dover Grammar School for Boys; Dover Grammar School for Girls; Folkestone School for Girls; The Harvey Grammar School, Folkestone; Highsted Grammar, Sittingbourne; and Mayfield Grammar School, Gravesend. Eligibility for admission depends on success at either the school's own test or the Kent Test, although if the school is oversubscribed, as happened with all five of the six schools for 2018 entry (Highsted having eight vacancies after expanding provision by 30 places), places are awarded through the oversubscription criteria which do not take into account which test was passed to achieve eligibility. 
  • The following schools will offer some or all of their places to the highest scoring applicants. You need to read the oversubscription criteria  to determine the rules:  Dartford Grammar School, Dartford Grammar School for Girls, Judd School, Maidstone Grammar School,Rochester Grammar School (Girls), Simon Langton Grammar School for Boys, Skinners School, Tonbridge Grammar School (Girls). For some of these you will not know the pass mark before applying, although there is guidance elsewhere on this website (use the search engine or go to Individual Schools). Depending on the school, the mark  may only be determined by the scores of those applying and will become public in March 2020 when decisions are announced.
  • You will also find links to Medway Test outcomes  for 2020 entry.

Some Grammar School Admission Scenarios:

  • If the child has passed the Kent tests, you may name just grammar schools on your SCAF. If your child does not qualify for any of these, because other children have taken up all available places, you could be offered the nearest grammar school with a vacancy, although KCC has no obligation to do so and tends to offer a place at the nearest non-selective school. In some previous years this has affected children in Canterbury, Dartford, Faversham,Gravesham & Maidstone. What was described as "an unwritten policy" by KCC that a Kent child who passed the 11 plus was entitled to a grammar school place, no longer applies.
  • The Dover, Shepway, Mayfield and Highsted Tests do not qualify you for admission to any other grammar school.
  • If your child has not taken the eleven plus, you can only be considered for non selective schools.

  • If your child has taken the eleven plus and not passed, and you wish to appeal, you must name the grammar schools you wish to appeal to on the SCAF, together with any non selective schools you wish to apply to.

  • If your child has passed the eleven plus and you name grammar schools and a non selective school, for example a church comprehensive school, you will be offered the highest school on your list for which your child is eligible. If  this is the non selective school then you will be offered it in preference to a grammar school lower down your list.

 

 

 

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