Kent Education Network is a community campaign group championing progressive, equal and excellent education in the county of Kent.
Kent is one of the few counties in the UK to still operate an eleven-plus. In the last year of primary school children are judged by the Kent Test as ‘suitable for grammar school’ or ‘suitable for high school’. We do not believe a one-off test to define children’s education pathways is fair or desirable, and think Kent’s two-tier education system shows poor results.
KEN aims to promote academic achievement and social mobility by opposing the county’s academic selective system; the group aims to improve education outcomes for more young people in Kent through fair, ambitious education that does not divide children aged eleven.
- The Kent Test is unreliable, unscientific, and labels children in a way that is not helpful to their future ambitions. No child can be judged accurately in a test at age ten or eleven. Dividing children into ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ and creating two school pathways is unnecessary and harmful. The Kent Test supports a belief that ability is fixed; we believe this is untrue and a combination of high quality education and hard work can enable any child to achieve academic success.
- Academic selection reduces parental choice and the chance of an excellent education for the majority of Kent children. Of the 32 grammar schools in Kent, 8 are rated ‘Good’ and 24 ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted. Of the 67 non-selective schools, only 4 are ‘Outstanding’ 46 rated ‘Good’ and 17 require improvement or inadequate. It is clear that a Kent Test pass gives a child greater opportunity to attend a good or outstanding school, while a Kent Test fail dooms a quarter of our children to a place in a poor school. It is not fair to base a child’s chance of a good school on the results of a test.
- The system of education operating in Kent is not allowed by law elsewhere in the UK, yet there is no effective democratic way to seek a change to our county’s two-tier education system. Local and central government are unwilling to listen to the communities left in limbo by a law change our council chose not to implement long ago. We are stuck with the education system no one else wants.
- Our education system encourages a class divide. 44% of parents admitted to paying for Kent Test tutors in a 2013 Kent survey. 13% of pupils in grammar schools were educated in independent schools. Just 3% of children in Kent grammar schools are classed as ‘disadvantaged’ compared to 18% in the county’s non-selective schools. We believe every child deserves a good education, but our system limits opportunity for disadvantaged children and benefits wealthy parents.
- Kent’s education system produces no better results for our children. 57% of Kent children achieve 5 A-C GCSE passes, just the same as the UK average. However Kent’s disadvantaged pupils achieve far worse results than average. 30% of disadvantaged pupils achieve 5 GCSE passes in Kent, while the national figure is 37%. At A level Kent pupils also underperform. In Kent 73% of students achieve 3 A levels, but the UK average is 77%. Our divided school system means many of our non-selective schools can not offer good A level options.
- There are many families personally hurt by Kent’s system. We hear of children teased because they failed the Kent Test. We hear of brothers and sisters forced to attend different schools because of their test results. We know many children who lose friends through the school divide. We know children in our county travel many more miles to school than children in other areas. We know children who lose their motivation to learn because the eleven-plus judged them ‘not academic’. We even know adults who feel inferior because the eleven-plus judged them. There are many unhappy stories about the Kent Test. It is not necessary to divide children between two types of secondary school to educate them successfully.
KEN’s campaign activities include:
- Researching the effects of the eleven-plus and the two-tier education system in Kent.
- Challenging Kent County Council, the Regional Schools Commission, and the Department for Education to create fair admissions policies and access to good schools for all children. No state secondary schools should be out of bounds to our children based on an ‘ability’ judgement in a test.
- Supporting local democracy to enable parents and concerned citizens to have a say on admissions policies that discriminate against children based on a test judgement
- Raising awareness of the ill-effects of academic selection and divided education, and promoting the benefits of excellent mixed ability education.
- Opposing new grammar schools in the UK.
The Kent Education Network (KEN) involves students, parents, teachers, governors, and education professionals. If you care about Kent education we hope you will join our campaign. Show your support for fair education and register as a member below!