Big day for thousands of children across Kent as 11-plus results revealed
Thousands of children across Kent find out today if they have passed the 11-plus and secured a grammar school place.
Figures show the county has seen a rise in the number of children taking the test, with 12,064 taking the exam, compared to 11,451 last year - an increase of 613.
The figures indicate there could be further pressure for places in some areas, with 5,494 passing but 4,570 places available - a shortfall of 924.
A schoolboy taking an exam. Picture: Library image
Cllr Roger Gough, the Kent County Council politician in charge of education, said parents should not be alarmed by the deficit.
He said: "This is not unusual and what we find is that people come to making choices, some do not put down a grammar school and some will go to the private sector."
At the same time, he acknowledged arrangements by some grammars who had temporarily increased their intake this year were likely to become permanent.
"That is certainly a possibility... at the moment we are looking at whether there are other things that need to be done. Even if we get a Sevenoaks annexe, it will not be enough to address the deficit."
Kent County Council education cabinet member Roger Gough
It comes after a government minister said grammar schools in Kent should be doing more to offer places to bright children from poorer backgrounds.
Liberal Democrat schools minister David Laws said the proportion of pupils from poorer backgrounds was "unbelievably low" and challenged the county's 33 grammars to work much harder to broaden their intake, saying they needed to be much more inclusive.
He said he was concerned not enough was being done by grammar schools to offer more places to poorer bright children.
Mr Laws also said the achievement gap in Kent between children on free school meals and those that were not was too wide.
Government figures indicate children on free school meals in the county are half as likely to get five good GCSEs.
Liberal Democrat schools minister David Laws
Mr Laws said Kent's selective schools needed to work harder.
"Grammars can make much more effort... to work to make themselves genuinely more inclusive. We have a massive variation in the proportion of disadvantaged pupils in grammars but in general the proportion of children from disadvantaged backgrounds is unbelievably low.
"We used to say grammars were engines of social mobility that helped people from disadvantaged backgrounds to succeed. But in almost no grammar schools in the country is that the case."
He said grammars needed to examine their admissions processes to identify bright pupils from poorer backgrounds.
"We have grammars where there is half a per cent of children from disadvantaged backgrounds, even though in their catchment areas the proportion of young disadvantaged people can be as high as 10% to 25%. This is not what we want or what you want."
Selective schools should take into account how the widespread coaching culture could skew intakes and consider "giving priority to pupil premium children to try to get more broad-based intakes".
Kent County Council has said it wants an eleven plus test to be much less susceptible to the private tutoring that has evolved in some areas, notably west Kent.
Around 500 places offered for grammar school places each year are made to children at fee-paying independent prep schools.
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