We would like Kent County County’s review of the Kent Test to be an open and democratic process, either a full public consultation or a citizens assembly.
It should involve education experts, teachers and school leaders, educational psychologists, and test designers. The review should also give a say to Kent citizens, particularly parents and school pupils. The people who use our school system may highlight concerns that need to be addressed.
Questions a review might consider
The review should address key questions such as:
Does the Kent Test work as it should, and is it fair for all pupils?
What are the results of our school system, and is this equitable for children in Kent high schools as well as grammar schools?
Do people in Kent like our school system? How do children feel about the Kent Test? How stressful is it, and does it affect academic confidence if a child does not pass? How do secondary school pupils feel about the school divide?
Does the school system fit the modern world? What is the rationale for 25% selection? Is there a need for selective schools now schools all offer the same curriculum and most educate high attainers in sets and streams?
Is there any impact on Kent high schools? In most areas of the UK each school has a full balance of pupils with 25% high attainers in each school. Does it make a difference if secondary schools in Kent lack these pupils? Do non-selective schools face challenges in our system, such as recruiting teachers, or offering academic subjects at sixth form?
11-plus test tuition is big business. How prevalent is tuition? How much do parents in Kent pay? How much unfairness does this cause?
What adjustments should be made to make our school system fairer? What regular checks should be implemented to ensure proper scrutiny? What reporting on the test should our council publish? For instance, KCC do not track the number of disadvantaged pupils accessing grammar schools, nor do they report on complaints about cheating or test problems.
We know that disadvantaged pupils face an attainment gap that makes it unlikely they will attend grammar school. What can KCC do about this issue? How likely is it that grammar schools can educate an acceptable proportion of poorer pupils?
The outcome of the review
The review should propose changes to the Kent Test based on expert views and public consultation.
We would expect there to be some small changes that could be implemented right away. There would also be some desired outcomes that will need a long term plan, or that might not fit our current school set-up and legislation. However any changes that are challenging or require new legislation could be worked towards with government support. Government, and schools themselves, are likely to be sympathetic to any plan devised carefully, with full public consultation.
The cost of this review, or its challenges, should not be used as excuses to block this long-overdue education check. Our children’s education is far too important for this issue to be dismissed.
We must take steps to ensure children sitting the Kent Test next year do not grow up to find their children sitting the same style of test in 2060. If we do nothing this will happen, because our council has no reason to change anything. We worry that KCC do not want to face up to the challenges of fixing the Kent Test’s problems.
Please support our campaign calling for a Kent Test review.