Agenda and draft minutes

Select Committee - Grammar Schools and Social Mobility - Monday, 1st February, 2016 3.00 pm

Venue: Darent Room, Sessions House, County Hall, Maidstone. View directions

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

Note No. Item


Minutes of the meeting held on 16 December 2015 pdf icon PDF 73 KB

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RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting held on 16 December 2015 are correctly recorded and that they be signed by the Chairman.




Katherine Atkinson, Head of Information and Intelligence (KCC) pdf icon PDF 49 KB

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(1)          The Chairman welcomed Ms Atkinson to the meeting and invited her to introduce herself and provide an outline of her role and responsibilities.


(2)          Ms Atkinson stated that she was Head of Information and Intelligence for Education and Young People’s Service. This was a varied role which had responsibility for all management information across that directorate including school improvement data. She also had responsibility for EYPS Management Information and Service Development teams; Early Help and Preventative Services Improvement teams for open access (children’s centres and youth hubs), intensive support, youth justice and inclusion and attendance; and the Early Help Triage team.


Q - How many FSM children take up a place in Grammar school compared with non FSM children?


(3)          Ms Atkinson explained that this data was based on the autumn census which showed 941 Free School Meals (FSM) children in Kent grammar schools compared to 8,652 in non-selective schools, 2.8% of the population of grammar schools were current FSM, compared to 13.4% in non-selective schools.


Q – On page 12 of the meeting papers there is a chart that shows a significant increase in the percentage of FSM in both selective and non-selective schools, is this a result of schools encouraging the take up of FSM to access the pupil premium?


(4)          Ms Atkinson stated there was a difference between Year 7 and Year 11 take up of FSM but the reason for this was not clear from the data, though the levels are higher in years 7 and 8 (the latest two intakes). Ms Atkinson also noted that Year 7 to Year 11 data could not be compared to Years 12 and 13 due to these years being self-selective.


Q – What is the correlation between the attainment at level 5 – Key Stage 2 (KS 2) and success in the Kent Test?


(5)          Ms Atkinson explained that children sat the Kent Test early in year 6 before they were assessed at Key Stage 2. How strong the correlation was, was a matter for debate.   When you look at the proportion of children; 25.5% of those entering the Kent Test who had also achieved Level 5, were FSM Ever pupils. There were similar proportions for pupils previously achieving level 2 B+ at reading, writing and maths. She confirmed that the national expectation used to be level 2+ at KS 1 but more recently has been tougher and the expectation is level 2B+.


Q – Is a level 3 child at KS1 expected to achieve level 5 at KS2?


(6)          Ms Atkinson confirmed that this was the case with a national expectation of progress of two levels.


Q – 15.6% of pupils entering the Kent Test are FSM Ever is that correct?


(7)          Ms Atkinson stated that that the figure in paragraph 2.1 was a snap shot of the information from the school census. 


(8)          In response to a request from the Chairman Ms Atkinson explained the difference between current FSM and FSM Ever, current FSM was shorthand  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.



Interview with Roger Gough, Cabinet Member for Education and Health Reform, and Patrick Leeson, Corporate Director for Education and Young People's Services pdf icon PDF 47 KB

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Those around the table introduced themselves and Mr Gough and Mr Leeson were welcomed to the meeting and thanked for attending.


Please introduce yourselves and provide an outline of the roles and responsibilities of your posts


1.            Mr Gough explained that he was the County Council Member for Darent Valley and the Cabinet Member for Education and Health Reform, a position he had held for the past three years.  He said the portfolio’s key areas of activity included standards, place planning, SEND and attendance and behaviour.


2.             Mr Leeson said that he was the Corporate Director for Education and Young People’s Services and had responsibility for all education functions of the County Council, from early years, schools and early help to 16+ services.

Statistics show that only 3% of pupils in Kent who go to grammar schools have Free School Meals (FSM), compared to Northern Ireland, where the rate is 7%.  Can you explain why this should be?


3.            Mr Gough explained that Northern Ireland was a distinctive comparator. Work by the Sutton Trust had shown that Kent’s rate was much more comparable to that of the rest of England. There were two main issues; firstly, the wider issue of children with FSM accessing high-performing schools, an issue which the County Council needed to address, and secondly, the issue of the number of FSM pupils who took and passed the Kent Test.  Currently, approximately 20% of all FSM pupils from the relevant cohort entered the Kent Test and, of those, the pass rate was approximately 17% (compared with 40-41% for all children from Kent schools sitting the test), accounting for only 3% of the total passes.  Thus, the issue was both one of the low number of children taking the test and the low number passing it.  A third issue to be addressed was the relationship between primary and grammar schools.


4.            Mr Leeson explained that there was a general issue nationally around the relationship between children from poorer and disadvantaged households and educational achievement.  Social disadvantage and educational outcome were known to be very closely linked, and there was a distinct pattern of children from poorer households performing less well at school. This link was more pronounced in the UK than in other countries. This was a matter of national concern, and a national priority was to close the gap, reducing the extent to which a child’s social background affected their educational attainment.  One of the key roles of education was to change a child’s life chances.


5.            In Kent, the gap was wider than elsewhere in the UK, at all stages of a child’s school career – at the end of primary school, at GCSE and at age 19. However, there had been some small movement towards narrowing this gap.  The pupil premium was having some impact, including on pupil motivation and engagement, attendance and behaviour, for example by helping to run after-school clubs and extra-curricular activities, which were known to help raise children’s motivation and educational attainment.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.