Stock photo - grammar school children
Stock photo - grammar school children

Recent analysis of data released by KCC shows, once again, that grammar school system is failing Dover’s poorest families. In 2019, Dover district had the lowest % of passes of the Kent Test for students in receipt of pupil premium – which means, in the context of the Kent Test, any student having received free school meals at any point during their six years of primary school.

In Dover, only 7% of Kent Test passes were by Pupil Premium students, well below the county average. Contrast this to 13% of all passes in Canterbury, or 11% of all passes in Maidstone. When you look at the data, if you come from an area of considerable deprivation, this selective school system does not work in your favour.

Kent’s school system is long overdue a makeover. How is reasonable that we, as a county, put further stresses on our very young children in the form of arbitrary, retrograde examinations? These exams still favour autumn-born boys despite some measures to balance marks in favour of those born later in the school year. The test is still also skewed towards logic and reasoning, skills not taught in school, thereby advantaging students who go to private schools (10% of all passes), or whose parents can afford to pay for tutoring (or have the time / ability) to be able to tutor their children themselves. The final nugget of truth is that over and over again, average educational attainment measures are higher in counties with comprehensive schools.

Of course, there are the individual anecdotes of grammar school successes and I don’t doubt that individually grammar schools provide an excellent experience for some; but SOME is not ALL, and we – as a fair, aspirational nation – have to act in the best interest of the majority.

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