Selective Tests 2020
22nd July 2020
Please click on the link below to find the most up to date information on the Kent Test:
16th July 2020
Dear Mums, Dads and Carers
Please find below a draft proposal from KCC regarding the Kent Test. Please be aware this is only a draft as the cabinet member responsible has stated his decision on the proposal will not be before 22nd July. Please do call the school office on 01322 522151 if you have any questions regarding this.
Why delay the Kent Test?
We think that schools and their pupils will find it easier to settle back into the new school year if they are not required to deal with the Kent Test as soon as they return. A delay will allow schools to ease reluctant returners back into the classroom and establish routines which respect Covid safety. It will give pupils time to get used to formal teaching and to begin to catch up on work they have missed. 90% of the schools who expressed a view when consulted have welcomed the delay.
Couldn’t you get the results out before the closing date for school preferences if you tested in September as usual?
We don’t believe so. This year, because of lockdown, test scores will have to be standardised after the tests are marked, rather than using a national standardisation table drawn up ahead of testing. This could delay the sharing of test scores with schools by 5 to 10 days.
Also, Covid safety measures could still affect the delivery of testing, or of the marking process.
Why delay only by a month? Why not test much later?
Secondary school admissions operate within a timetable set by national legislation. This allows all local authorities to share information with their own secondary schools and with neighbouring Authorities to make sure that every child’s preferences are considered, and that they can be offered a secondary school place on 1 March, as required by the School Admissions Code. A longer delay would put this process at risk, with potential unwelcome consequences for all candidates.
Testing much later would take us further into Winter weather, which could also disrupt testing.
Instead of asking for preferences before parents have Kent Test results, why not just delay the closing date for preferences?
The closing date for expressing preferences is set in primary legislation, so Kent does not have the discretion to publish a different date.
Because every Authority must operate an “Equal Preference” mechanism when preferences are considered, naming a grammar school or schools at the top of the preference list without knowing the results will not limit access to lower preferences if a child does not qualify for grammar school. Nevertheless, to make it easier for parents to name their preferred schools with confidence in this difficult year, we intend to increase the number of preference options to 6.
Are children limited to naming two grammar schools?
No. A small number of people have mistaken the proposal to mean that, even with six preferences, parents could only name two grammar schools. They can use the two extra preferences to name two grammar schools without reducing the number of non-selective preferences currently available to them, but they can name more if they wish. Equally, they can name six non-selective schools if they prefer. How many grammar schools parents decide to name will reflect which schools are available locally, which schools they most want and how likely they feel their child is to qualify for grammar school. You can read more detail about how this will work in a separate document.
Why test at all? Why not adopt a process based on recommendations and existing evidence?
The main difficulty with this approach is that in a typical year we need to assess as many as 16,000 children in roughly five weeks. While the majority are in Kent primary schools, around 6,000 are not. Some are in schools outside Kent, some in schools in the independent sector, and a small number are educated at home.
Even though it has limitations, objective testing is available to almost all candidates, and gives a clear indication of performance on one day under common conditions. It does not require children’s schools to compile and share assessment information, and it is not made harder if there is limited evidence of classroom performance and progress for grammar schools to consider.
Testing also provides the aggregated scores which form a key part of the 2021 admission criteria of some oversubscribed schools.
If testing becomes impracticable, of course consideration would have to be given to assessing children by other means, but it would not be ideal because of the difficulty of ensuring consistency in the evidence available, and the time it would take, given the national deadlines explained above.
How can offers still be made on 1 March?
The proposal is to move the test to mid-October as a month’s delay will still allow time for assessments to be confirmed before schools are required to rank their applications.
Every year some parents name Grammar schools on their application when their child has not been assessed suitable for a selective education. Many do this to allow them to appeal after National Offer Day. The Admissions Team ensures that grammar schools are only asked to rank children eligible for admission, so they will have sufficient time to complete this task this year, in spite of the delay.
Some schools are allowing their Year 5s to return early, is that fair?
Since the lockdown on March 20, KCC has offered schools guidance on reopening prepared in line with the direction from Central Government, which has most recently included a request that schools make use of any additional pupil capacity where it was safe to do so in light of the wider Covid-19 guidance. The Government’s intention is that this expansion should not be at the expense of those year groups that have previously been identified as having priority to return to school (Year R, 1 and 6 in additional to children of key workers and vulnerable pupils). Schools and/or admission authorities were advised to offer this additional capacity where their individual circumstances allowed, but central Government provided no further restrictions or guidance on which children should be prioritised, so it is ultimately for each admission authority to decide the priorities for their individual school.
Our recent data collections show that just over half of Kent Primary and Junior schools (197 out of 389) are currently accommodating Year 5 students.
Clearly, children will have received a diverse educational offering over the last few months, and this will not be limited to how soon they can return to school. As you have identified, the Covid-19 pandemic is not the source of all these differences, but lockdown has the potential to magnify their effect. The Kent Test process has the flexibility to take account of a child’s individual circumstances and the safeguards in place will allow us to continue to support children from all backgrounds. The Special Arrangement facility allows individual accommodations to testing to be made for children with disabilities or SEN where necessary. In setting the grammar threshold after testing, KCC can recognise any marked effect from the reduced classroom teaching that most students will have experienced during the lockdown. For those able pupils who underperform in tests, the Headteacher Assessment process will remain to allow for wider evidence to be considered.
Once a formal decision has been made regarding the proposal to delay the Kent Test by one month, schools will be sent further guidance. When cases are referred to the Head Teacher Assessment Panels, schools will be asked to confirm when children returned to school, and to provide key information to evidence academic ability.
KCC’s guidance in relation to Kent Test coaching remains unchanged. Kent - like other organisations who operate selection processes based on exams - advises against coaching candidates because, if we assume that the aim of coaching is to get weaker candidates through a selection test, it is bad, both for the candidate and the receiving grammar school if children are misplaced as a result. If children only achieve a given performance because of intensive additional input focussed on “passing” particular tests, they are likely to find the challenges of a school which selects on academic ability quite difficult
If KCC receives evidence that test materials have been retained or misused by a school, it will set aside pupils’ PESE test scores, and all candidates will be referred to the local Head Teacher panel to be assessed instead by scrutiny of work and records from that school.
Schools with capacity may allow Year 5 students to return to school in line with wider government guidance, but this should not be with the specific intention of coaching them for the Kent Test.
How will allowing six preferences avoid disadvantage?
As always, parents should rank the schools on their form in order of preference. An “Equal Preference” scheme means that each valid preference is considered under that school’s admission criteria, and schools are not told where they were named on the form. The parents’ order of preference is used by the Local Authority only if more than one school could offer a place, so that the highest available of parents’ preferences can be offered on 1 March. (If none of the schools named can offer a place, the Local Authority allocates another school.)
The important thing for parents to remember is that this year the grammar school preferences should be placed highest on the form, if they wish for them to be considered first if the child is given a “grammar” assessment. (If they are ranked below other schools the grammar applications will still be considered if the child qualifies, but the highest-ranked school that is available will be offered, so that could be a non-selective school, regardless of the Kent Test results.)
Parents who would have named only grammar schools after receiving the results
Last year, parents whose children qualified for grammar school could have named as many as four grammar schools (depending on the local provision) after the results came out. They can still do this before they have the results, but with the insurance of two more options to name other schools further down the form. When the results are out their grammar school preferences will be considered exactly as they would have been last year. If their child can’t be offered any of the first four schools (whether because they are oversubscribed, or because the child is not assessed suitable for grammar school) the two remaining preferences will still be taken into account.
Parents who would have named a mix of grammar schools and non-selective schools after receiving the results
Some parents whose children qualified for grammar school might have named a mix of school types after receiving results, either because these reflected their true local preferences, or so that, if all their local grammar schools were oversubscribed, at least one non-selective preference could be considered if their higher preferences couldn’t offer. They can still do this before they have the results, but can name two more schools than before.
Other parents whose children didn’t qualify for grammar school might have named a mix of school types after receiving results, in order to leave scope for appeals to one or more grammar schools after securing a non-selective place. They can still do this before they have the results, but can name two more schools than before.
Parents who would have named all non-selective schools
Some parents would have named all non-selective schools because their child did not take the Kent Test. They can do the same by 31 October, with up to six options instead of up to four.
Parents whose children were tested but did not qualify for grammar school might also have named four non-selective schools after receiving the results. They can still do so. Provided they use their first two preferences to name grammar schools ahead of receiving the results, these preferences can be considered if their child qualifies, leaving them four non-selective preferences if not. They are not limited to two grammar schools, but after they have named two, any additional grammar preference will reduce the number of non-selective preferences available.
Please see link updated 26th June 2020:
21st May 2020
Dear Mums, Dads and Carers,
Please find the updated information that has been provided from KCC regarding the Kent Test:
'We understand that many of you with children in Year 5 are very anxious to know what will happen about the Kent Test when the new school year starts in September. We are carefully considering what might be deliverable, depending on advice from central government as the pandemic runs its course and decisions are made about the easing of lockdown for children of primary school age.
Many factors could change between now and the end of term and this means that we are currently unable to tell you exactly how we will assess children for grammar school in the new academic year. We can confirm, however, that we will need some way to identify which children are eligible.
Testing has the benefit of being available to the thousands of grammar school applicants we normally assess every year, however recently they have arrived in Kent and wherever they usually study, even if they are home educated, so it would be the most straightforward option if it is possible. Whatever is decided, though, we need to be confident that we can keep the risk to children and their teachers as low as possible, allowing grammar schools meet their legal obligations in a fair and transparent way, while allowing KCC to stay within the national timetable for coordinating school admissions.
We appreciate that everyone of school age is missing classroom teaching, but it is fortunate that there are many excellent resources available through schools and education sites for children. Familiarisation material for the Kent Test can also be found in the “Test Paper” tab below.
We will update our website for everyone’s benefit when we have received further guidance from the Department for Education and there is a clearer understanding of what arrangements may be possible. In the meantime, we would ask that parents monitor the Kent Test page for updates, rather than sending individual enquiries. We do understand that uncertainty is difficult, especially for children, but KCC is unable to confirm what arrangements will be in place until there is a clearer understanding of how children are likely to return to school in greater numbers"'.
Information about the Kent Test from KCC:
It is understandable that families would like to have a clear idea of what is going to happen to the Kent Test in the light of the current Covid-19 lockdown, but unfortunately it is too early to confirm anything other than that provision will be made for children to be assessed so that Kent’s grammar schools can determine which of their applicants can be admitted.
A selection mechanism of some type will need to be applied, however, as it is unclear when restrictions will be released, or when schools will be back in session, it would be premature to fix a solution now. There is national legislation around the co-ordinated admissions process, so the action which can be taken regarding the timing of the Kent Test will also depend on advice from the DfE, which has yet to be issued.
The loss of direct teaching time is concerning but unavoidable. All schools are continuing to provide support for their Year 5 pupils and there are many National Curriculum resources available free online. Our website has also offered access to free familiarisation material for a number of years. Unlike the national exams which have been cancelled, the Kent Test does not examine a taught syllabus. The process which determines what level of test performance will constitute a “pass” is set by KCC after the test has been completed, so there is also scope for flexibility when the Council considers the impact of the lockdown on everyone taking part.
A more detailed plan will be shared as soon as it is available.
11+ 2020 Update to Parents
We were due to hold our Parent Information Evening on 6th May regarding 11+ tests to be taken in September 2020. However, I know that some of you are asking questions regarding the arrangements for the tests for this year following on from the school closures. I would like to update you with the current information that we have available. As always, children cannot go to Grammar school unless they are deemed selective. This means either passing the test or being successful via an appeal. The location of Joydens Wood Junior School means that children can sit the Kent and/or Bexley tests.
Kent Test for 2021 Admissions
Registrations for the Kent Test will open on 1 June 2020 and close at midnight on 1 July 2020 for children due to start secondary school in September 2021. This is completed through the KCC website. Parents will be informed closer to the time if any adjustments need to be made to the Kent Test as a result of the recent school closures for the majority of children.
Bexley Test for 2021 Admissions
Children born between 1 September 2009 and 31 August 2010 can sit the Bexley selection test in September 2020 when they are in Year 6 of primary school.
- all children must be registered online between 1 May and 3 July 2020, including children who attend primary schools in Bexley
- test sessions will be on Tuesday 15 or Wednesday 16 September 2020
- all registered children who attend a primary school in Bexley will sit the test on the morning of 16 September, either in their own school or in a test centre
- all other children will be invited to one morning or afternoon test session on either 15 or 16 September at a secondary school in Bexley
- you can apply for access arrangements if your child has a disability or special need. Please ask your child’s school to complete the Special Arrangements Application Form, using the guidance notes
There will be two test papers containing a mixture of questions on verbal reasoning and comprehension, non-verbal reasoning and mathematical reasoning.
Each paper will be divided into timed sections, and instructions will be given on an audio soundtrack. Most questions are multiple-choice, and all answers are marked on a separate machine-readable answer sheet. There will be a short break between the two test papers.
All parents who register their child for the test will be sent a link to familiarisation material. The test provider, CEM, does not sell past papers or practice books.
Please link on the following to apply for the Bexley Test:
It is your decision on whether to register your child for these tests. As soon as we are given any updated information, we will update you.
Click HERE for parent presentation which took place on 9th May 2019, we are unable to update this for the 2020 test until we have further information.