While Kent County Council forbids state schools from practising for the Kent Test, it ignores the fact that most independent prep schools openly admit to coaching for the test
KCC sends junior schools in Kent a clear instruction: “Coaching is not required or permitted. If we receive evidence that a school is coaching, we reserve the right to ‘unlink’ it from the 11 plus process and no longer to send test materials to the premises.”
Despite this instruction, private schools openly advertise their successes in coaching for the Kent Test; yet KCC has never taken action to stop the practice.
Kent Education Network has approached 18 independent primary schools to ask what level of coaching for the Kent Test was offered in each school. Of the ten schools that responded, only one, Chartfield School in Westgate-On-Sea, pointed out that 11 plus coaching was not allowed in any school, saying that the practice was “not ethical.”
The majority of schools admitted to 11 plus coaching, with some, like St Lawrence College Junior School, even boasting on its web site that: “Thorough preparation for the Kent Test is a significant priority at SLCJS. In Years 4 and 5, TLS lessons concentrate to a greater extent on the Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning skills that candidates need to polish in readiness for the Kent Test.”
Kent Education Network believes that the significant amount of time prep schools spend on coaching pupils is not only unfair, it undermines any notion of social mobility. A study of the results for schools which admitted to coaching, showed that these schools were achieving 90 -100 per cent success rates at sending pupils to grammar schools. While the 11 plus pass rate in state schools which do not coach is generally between 25 – 45 per cent.
Dr.Michael Collins, KEN’s head of research, said: “State primary schools stick to the council’s rule and no child is prepared for the test, while prep schools appear to think they can do what they like and ignore the rules. KCC recently undertook a four-month study of grammar schools by a commission appointed to examine ways of increasing social mobility
“The commission failed to consider that around 14 per cent of grammar school places are given to children from prep schools; it’s clear that coaching is denying grammar school places to children from poorer families. We believe that KCC should act immediately to ban any prep school that undertakes coaching from entering pupils the Kent Test. There should not be one rule for parents who pay for education, and another rule for parents who cannot afford it.”
Kent Education Network have presented Kent County Council with their evidence and will raise the matter with the Office of the School Adjudicator if no action is taken.