Agenda and draft minutes

Select Committee - Grammar Schools and Social Mobility - Friday, 5th February, 2016 2.00 pm

Venue: Swale 3, Sessions House, County Hall, Maidstone. View directions

Contact: Denise Fitch/David Firth/Serine Annan-Veitch  03000 416090/416089/415782

Note No. Item

2.00 - 2.45pm


Gillian Cawley, Director of Education, Quality and Standards (KCC) pdf icon PDF 48 KB

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1.            Gillian Cawley joined Kent County Council in May 2015 as Director, Education Quality and Standards.  Her remit covers Early Years, Schools, 14-24 Skills and Employability and Community Learning and Skills.  Prior to Kent, Gillian held a number of posts in Hertfordshire County Council latterly Assistant Director Commissioner for Education Services.   Previous roles in Hertfordshire included Assistant Director – School Improvement, Head of Learning, Training and Research and Principal Adviser, Teaching and Learning.  Prior to working for a Local Authority, Gillian was an experienced, successful teacher and senior leader in schools.


2.            Q -  How do attainment levels differ between FSM children and non FSM children in primary school?

Ans -  Primary Level – There were still gaps in attainment in reception. There had been improvement through significant work.  There had been some narrowing of the gap in attainment but not in the higher levels.


3.            Q -  Are more children on FSM getting  Level 5?

Ans - It gets harder.  We want attainment gap to narrow at an accelerated pace.  There was improvement at Level 4 but not at Level 5.


4.            Comment – A proportionate number of children eligible for FSM are not getting into Grammar schools.   This is a bigger issue that the Kent Test.  It was about making sure that all the children were performing at the highest possible level.  KS2 in writing was pleasing FSM children narrowed for the third year but level 5 attainment is widening and there were fewer FSC.  Mathematics – Level 5 decline in overall attainment.

Ans -  Key indicators in Sutton Report are that they achieve a higher level in mathematics.  Need to raise attainment going to grammar on issue. Achievement at the higher levels in mathematics is seen, according to the Sutton Trust, as a key indicator/determinant of entry to grammar schools for FSM pupils. It is therefore important that we support primary schools with increasing level 5 attainment in mathematics for this group.


5.            Comment – The Kent wide picture varies from community to community. In some areas FSM eligible children are a minority and in other areas there are much more FSM eligible children..  For example areas such as Sheppey or Ramsgate have high levels of FSM eligible children.

Ans –FSM pupils in schools where either they are in the majority or very small minority are seen to make most progress. It is those in the middle of these two opposites that seem to make least progress. Ms Cawley gave the example of Newington school in Ramsgate that was doing will with its allocation of Pupil Premium (PP).  Ms Cawley highlighted things that make difficulties in schools as follows:

a)     Parental Engagement – The school can do a lot to engage parents to support their children’s learning

b)     Really good leadership where no child is left behind. 


6.            Comment – Generally in a school with large FSM Children do better because they have experience of how best to use the pupil premium and experienced /management.


7.            Q  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

3.00 - 3.45pm


Keith Abbott, Director of Education Planning and Access (KCC) pdf icon PDF 46 KB

Additional documents:


Keith Abbott (Director of Education Planning and Access, Kent County Council) was in attendance for this item.

The Chairman welcomed Keith Abbott to the meeting and invited him to introduce himself to the Committee. Keith noted that he joined Kent County Council in 1982; in June 2015 he took up his current post of Director of Education Planning and Access which included school place planning, SEND, admissions and transport.

Q – Is the increased numbers of free schools and academies in Kent having any bearing on parents and children choosing selective or non-selective education?

Keith explained that there was no hard evidence to show this but recognised that it may affect parent choice; free schools were able to have a different approach to the curriculum which may be attractive to some parents. He noted that there had been anecdotal evidence that academy trusts, with primary and secondary schools, were encouraging parents to continue their child’s secondary education with the Trust.  He stated that good and outstanding schools were able  to expand their Published Admission Number without consultation which, in the case of Grammar schools, had resulted in an increase in Grammar School places up to 28.3% of the total secondary school places compared to around 25% five years earlier. He reported that free schools were not allowed to be selective and could only be established at the discretion of the Secretary of State for Education. He noted that since the election, the Government had been working more closely with local authorities in aligning free schools to meet school place need. He reported that there had been positive experiences with Kent based trusts and KCC were keen to develop these relationships in establishing local Multi-Academy Trusts rather than with regional chains where experience had been mixed. He noted that the Education Funding Agency was providing support to enable standalone trusts to expand. He stated that new schools would be required in areas of population growth such as Ebbsfleet which may require existing Grammar Schools to expand to meet demand.

Q – How can we ensure that socially disadvantaged children are able to take advantage of the growing numbers of Grammar school places available in the county?

Keith explained that Kent County Council’s aim was to raise attainment and close the Free School Meals gap in all schools. He noted that the increased number of Grammar School places had led to a slight increase in the number of Free School Meals pupils in going to Grammar School. He acknowledged that since the introduction of the pupil premium, some Headteachers had been more proactive in encouraging parents to apply for Free School Meals for their children which had increased the total number of children assessed as eligible for Free School Meals.

Q – How does Kent County Council advertise the Kent Test to parents? How does this differ to an opt-out system like in Buckinghamshire?

Keith confirmed that, in line with common practice, there was an opt-in system for the Kent Test and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.