15 June 2021
Registration for the Kent Test is open.
Now that you have had a little time to settle into the new term and registration for the Kent Test is open, I thought it sensible to clarify a few points in case of enquiries from within your school community.
You will have seen the guidance issued by the DfE which we circulated to schools in May this year regarding tests and exams. This advises that Authorities carry out selection testing in September as normal to enable parents to have their child’s results before the statutory national closing date of 31 October for secondary school applications. This means that Authorities would no longer have DfE support if they elected to delay their assessment as was required last year. The Covid precautions set out in earlier advice remain in place, pending the announcement of further operational guidance for all schools for the Autumn Term. As parents will be provided their child’s Kent Test result before the application deadline, it will also not be necessary to increase the number of preference options that they are provided, meaning a return to the normal standard of four.
Where there is currently a unified approach to 11+ assessment Admission Authorities have been encouraged to maintain this and work together with their neighbours to minimise complexities for families who may be applying for several selective schools. This underpins the Council’s intention to continue to assess pupils by reference to standardised tests in September, with a stage prior to the release of assessment decisions where wider evidence from primary schools can be considered before a decision is reached. Any assessment process has to be available to children inside and outside Kent LA, regardless of whether they attend maintained schools, and must be deliverable within the framework of the School Admissions Code.
Families with children interested in attending a grammar school should now register them for testing by the closing date of 1 July. Your help in encouraging them to consider whether grammar school may be an option, and to register by the deadline, is always valuable, and much appreciated.
We have all been reminded particularly to focus on the interests of children from disadvantaged backgrounds, whose learning is likely to have suffered most during lockdown periods. If you have academically able pupils within this group who might be thinking about grammar school, please support their parents in applying, and ensure that they are aware of the free familiarisation materials accessible through the Kent Test pages of the KCC website.
There has been some public comment on the fact that the county saw a decline in the numbers of PP and FSM children taking part in last year’s Kent Test and qualifying for grammar school. We are considering what can reasonably be done to keep the interests of prospective candidates for grammar school in mind in the work being done with schools across the wider education landscape post Covid and will advise schools in due course. I am grateful that - as in any “normal” year - many of you helped pilot the families of these children through the 2021 admissions, referring cases to the local Head Teacher Assessment (HTA) Panel where you judged that their circumstances meant their test performance under-represented their ability, and later supporting school admission appeals. The continuation of such support will be important for children in the 2022 admissions round.
While we understand the desire for greater clarity around all stages of the Kent Test process, especially in light of the significant adjustments that were required last year when social distancing rules were at their strongest, the fact remains that we still don’t know exactly how the pandemic will change between now and September. As the HTA process usually requires a large number of school leaders to meet in a single location, we will again be required to follow whatever restrictions are in place at the time. We will therefore update schools on the specifics of the HTA process closer to its delivery, however, a wholly online option would only be proposed again if no possible alternatives were available. If a virtual HTA process is unavoidable, KCC will keep the operational procedures consistent with last year. In either event, further guidance will also be provided to support schools in making the best use of the HTA referral process to evidence each child’s individual circumstances.
You should already have received a first bulletin on the Kent Test process, and we will continue to issue these periodically, but if you need to clarify anything not published on the website (or if you wish to raise an issue or comment on what would help you), you are welcome to contact email@example.com.
Once registration for testing has closed, there will be the normal “grace period” for families who missed the 1 July deadline. After that, we will write to everyone who has registered to confirm the arrangements for the 2021 tests. Those of you who are already discussing secondary transfer with parents are welcome to share information from this news item.
Kent Admissions Team