We're seriously considering a move to Kent to be near DH's mum and dad. They're getting a bit old and frail and we're spending a lot of time in the car dealing with "stuff" for them.
We've got three boys currently at primary, with the oldest nearly in year 4. I know a bit about West Kent as DH went to school there, but nothing about the areas we're looking at buying in (we've seen some nice villages between Canterbury and Folkestone).
No grammars where we are, but lots of decent comprehensives, but clearly very different in Kent. So the choice seems to be pass 11+ and go to a grammar, or don't and go to the alternative secondary - is that right? No comprehensives? I looked at the Kent website and it seems to suggest the school allocation depends on the mark you get. Is that right? In which case, how does that relate to catchment? And how do the non-grammars perform considering the grammars have taken X% of the more academic kids?
Sorry if these are obvious, any info would help tbh. I'm worried about giving up a good comprehensive where we are for a system I don't understand.
Although it pains me to admit it, school allocations in kent (or at least canterbury) are mostly based on 11+ results, my DS has taken and passed this and has enrolled at a Grammar school in Canterbury and, in my opinion is reaping the benefits. I am of no doubt that the non-grammars perform exceedingly worse than the grammars due to the high level distraction found at non-grammar schools. If your child is bright enough then he should have no problem passing the 11+, there is also the chance to appeal to enter the grammar school, yet i do not think giving up a good comprehensive for a non-grammar would be the best idea.
On the plus side, you will find that it is much easier to get into a Grammar in East Kent than in most parts of the country. Even within the Grammar system there is a hierarchy so some will be more sort after and only those that actually pass get a place, whereas some of the less favoured ones take about a quarter of their intake on appeal.
The exact nature of selection varies considerably across the country, and even within a county like Kent itself, so this is understandably confusing for a lot of people. The most common source of confusion is that there are broadly two ways that grammar schools can select. They can be part of a county-wide selection process where all those who "pass" the 11+ automatically are entitled to go to a grammar school, and the admissions procedure after that depends on distance, sibling relations etc. just like any other school. Or they can be "superselectives", meaning they take those who get the highest marks in the 11+, often regardless of distance from the school.
Kent contains both kinds of grammar school. So a child in Canterbury and a child in Tunbridge Wells sit the same 11+ test. However if the child in Canterbury just manages a pass - usually a score of about 117-120 in each test - they are deemed grammar-suitable, and can then apply to Barton Court or Langtons or anywhere else, and will get in if they live close enough or have a sibling there. The child in Tunbridge Wells can get exactly the same score and not get into Judd's or Skinner's, because they select purely by score and you need to get close to the maximum possible mark (about 140 in each test) to get in.
To simplify matters for you, however, there are currently no superselectives in East Kent. The area you are looking at currently operates entirely according to the "old" system. Sit the 11+ and you simply pass or fail. It doesn't matter whether you pass by 1 mark or 50.
However the process is not foolproof, and the LEA can't control all the variables of individual school entry numbers, changing demographics etc. So wierd situations do occasionally arise where someobody passes the 11+ but can't get into a grammar school. Not sure if these are always resolved on appeal or not.
The Canterbury grammars are pretty popular so I would advise looking to live fairly close in to Canterbury itself if you want to get in there. There are also three excellent grammar schools on the East coast - in Broadstairs, Ramsgate and Sandwich - as well as the Dover grammars. Word on the street is that Sir Roger Manwood's in Sandwich (a very highly regarded school) may have trouble filling its numbers after the closure of Pfizer which is going to royally screw the local economy.
Of course you'd have to be moving on the basis that your kids are academically able enough to pass. I don't know if they're old enough to say that yet, but in Kent the top 25% are selected so they don't have to be geniuses.
There are also "pass and get in if you live near enough" grammars in Faversham and sittingbourne if you could consider moving thatbsideof Canterbury. The non grammar provision in the area is very variable- research before you decide where to move to!
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