(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 for children known to be eligible for FSM i.e. whose parents had come forward and submitted the form. However it is likely there is underreporting in some schools because of parents not claiming Free School Meals due to being unaware or because of a potential stigma. When the pupil premium was introduced it was decided that this funding should be based on an FSM Ever measure which is current FSM and those that had been known to have been eligible in the previous six years. This takes account of children moving in and out of eligibility. The figure for FSM Ever was 28% of pupils in main stream schools nationally were eligible approximately twice the FSM current as it was drawing on a wider cohort.
Q – FSM Ever is 16% of total school population, with 15.6% taking the Kent Test but only 8.3% passing. The fact a smaller proportion of these children are passing the Kent Test is key for us, do you agree?
Ms Atkinson agreed with this statement
Q – If the pupil premium is back dated do we need to look at FSM Ever rather than current FSM?
(9) Ms Atkinson confirmed that the FSM Ever data was taken from 3 school census points per year over 6 years (therefore 18 census points). Some of these children were FSM for each of these years, whilst others may have only been FSM eligible for one census point, therefore it was difficult to make a hard and fast rule.
(10) The Committee suggested that where possible the FSM Ever figures should be used.
Q – Can you provide data on the percentage of FSM Ever pupils who entered the Kent Test and then those that achieve level 5, what percentage of FSM Ever achieve level 5 and do not enter the Kent Test.
(11) Ms Atkinson undertook to provide this data for the Committee.
Q – Is there variation across Kent’s districts in the percentage of FSM children who pass the Kent test and take up a place at a Grammar school?
(12) Ms Atkinson stated that they had not drilled down to District level but had produced data by school in the appendix to the papers, there was not a clear pattern; they had found some schools in some areas did not enter anybody into the Kent Test whereas others entered a high number. She suggested that the Committee may wish to explore with schools why some schools enter high numbers of pupils for the Kent Test and/or whose pupils were successful at the Kent Test. It should be noted that some primary schools in Kent only have a small FSM cohort therefore those pupils could receive more support from the school but you could also expect those with more FSM pupils to have more expertise in supporting these pupils. She stated that there was a lot to unpick at KS2 and the gap at year 6.
(13) Ms Atkinson suggested that if the Committee were to look at the FSM gap then consideration needed to be given to the gap at foundation level for FSM – around 10% at Foundation Stage, rising at KS1; and then this increases to 21% at KS2; this has been as high as the mid 20’s percent and so it has improved slightly over the past few years. A key aspect is the need to be at a certain attainment level to pass the Kent Test so there is a need to address the FSM attainment gap.
Q – Does the gap in attainment levels of FSM and non FSM pupils reduce through grammar school?
(14) Ms Atkinson stated that once children entered grammar schools the gap between FSM and non FSM at KS4 (i.e. achieving 5 A* – C at GCSE had reduced to 2%. The gap across all secondary schools between FSM and non FSM was over 33% and had been at this level for a number of years. It appeared from the data that once FSM pupils get to grammar school they are not at a disadvantage in terms of attainment by the end of KS4.
Q – In relation to schools performance, at KS2 there is an attainment gap between schools in my division (Canterbury City South West) is the reason for this that some of these figures relate to FSM and others to FSM Ever?
(15) Ms Atkinson stated that this could be the case, the Kent Test data does not contain the unique pupil number, as some pupils taking the Kent Test come from outside of KCC’s area and therefore matching the Kent Test results to pupils is difficult, this is done manually but is not 100% perfect.
Q – A broader question to help the Committee was how can we encourage young people eligible for FSM to take the Kent Test and support them in doing so?
(16) Ms Atkinson agreed that it would be important to identify which schools do better at getting FSM to grammar schools and then to unpick what they do differently in terms of a number of areas, including engagement with parents, also some grammar schools have good links with primary schools.
Q - Does the location of Grammar schools and the competition for places in the west of the county impact on the ability of FSM children to access a grammar school place?
(17) Ms Atkinson referred the Committee to the table in paragraph 2.6 in the papers which provided a quick cross reference of the proportion of grammar school places, those Districts with high pass rates had a higher number of grammar school places with the exception of Sevenoaks.
Q – How many grammar schools are super selective?
(18) Ms Atkinson stated that this she did not have the information Ms Atkinson undertook to provide the Committee with information on the intake of super selective grammar schools in Kent.
Q – How can Kent County Council effectively work with schools , in encouraging/supporting FSM pupils to take the Kent Test.
(19) Ms Atkinson stated that in terms of KCC’s role, it was one of identifying schools that demonstrate best practice in supporting FSM pupils to enter the Kent Test and to share that best practice.
Q – Is there a need to look at how schools spend the pupil premium to support FSM pupils and in particular if this was used to support them in entering the Kent Test?
(20) Ms Atkinson expressed the view that this again would come into the area of sharing best practice.
Q – In your personal opinion what does the data on pages 12 and 13 say about the relationship between FSM pupils and educational progress as opposed to the availability of grammar school places? If you go to page 15 paragraph 2.6 table 1 I would suggest that there is a column missing, which should be the total number of grammar school places available for each of the 12 districts.
(21) Ms Atkinson stated that the columns in that table did give an indication of the percentage of grammar school places in each district with the exception of Sevenoaks which did not have a grammar school. If more grammar school places were needed in an area then there was a process for providing them.
Q – I would challenge that view as the provision of grammar school places is under the control of central government. What do the figures on pages 12 and 13 say about FSM and grammar school places?
(22) Ms Atkinson stated that this highlighted that there are significant FSM gap issues in primary schools at key stage 1, and at key stage 2 from 2014.
Q – Had the pupil premium made a difference to the attainment gap?
(23) Ms Atkinson replied that the pupil premium had not made a noticeable difference. There had been work on narrowing the gap. Out of 420 schools we identified 55 schools which had closed the gap consistently (period 2013 – 15). If the gap isn’t narrowed then there is no increase in attainment and the number passing the Kent Test.
Q – In relation to the 55 schools which had narrowed the gap did they send a higher percentage of FSM pupils to grammar school?
(24) Ms Atkinson stated that it was a mixed picture and referred the Committee to Appendix 1 in the papers which showed that these schools were scattered throughout that list. Ms Atkinson commented that there didn’t appear to be any apparent relationship between schools which were narrowing the gap and the success of pupils in the Kent Test.
Q – What does the data show about FSM and progress as opposed to the availability of places, Also what is the impact of the increasing school population who have English as an additional language?
(25) Ms Atkinson replied that English as an additional language was not looked at as a separate issue but it would be possible to do this and see if it had an impact. Those pupils with English as an additional language did appear to have faster progress than their peers and caught up quickly. Ms Atkinson stated that she could carry out some follow up work on this if required by the Committee.
Q – With reference to page 15 of the papers, not all children going to a grammar school have passed the Kent Test for example Dover Grammar School administer their own test, so do the figures on page 15 refer to the Kent Test or include other grammar school admission tests as well?
(26) Ms Atkinson confirmed that the data related to the Kent Test and was supplied by the Kent Test team.
Q - Why do some schools with a high percentage of children on FSM send significantly more FSM children to grammar school, compared to others with a similar demographic with a relatively low number of FSM children attending?
(27) Ms Atkinson stated that she did not have information on that but it maybe that this was a reflection of the work done with the pupils in a way not measured at KS2, she suggested that the Committee might wish to explore how schools engaged with parents.
Q - At Year 11 and beyond, is there a difference in the destinations of FSM children and non FSM children?
(28) Ms Atkinson confirmed that this was the case, however looking at three different years the difference was not high and a similar number of pupils ended up in a positive destination. FSM children were less likely to go on to sixth form with a handful going to college.
Q – There was only a gap of 20% in FSM and non FSM up to GCSE what difference is there between FSM and non FSM pupils after GCSE’s?
(29) Ms Atkinson replied that 90% of non FSM went onto sixth form compare to 80% FSM. 6 % of non FSM went to college compared to 15% of FSM. However, she expressed caution in using these figures as it did not represent a large number of young people.
Q – In relation to the super selective issue can we find out how many FSM pupils pass the Kent Test but don’t get high enough marks for the super selective schools?
(30) Ms Atkinson confirmed that this additional data could be provided by the Kent Test team.
Q - Are children who are eligible for FSM and who go on to achieve Level 5 in KS2 as likely to sit and pass the Kent Test as their peers who are not eligible for FSM?
(31) Ms Atkinson undertook to supply the Committee with more detailed information on this matter.
Q – Is there a difference in the number of pupils being put forward for the Kent Test depending on if the primary school has some form of partnership (such as Multi-academy trust) with a non-selective or grammar school?
(32) Ms Atkinson stated she did not have this information but undertook to provide it if the Committee wished.
Q – If there was one thing that you would like the Committee to address what would it be?
(33) Ms Atkinson replied that it would be to narrow the FSM and non FSM attainment gap in primary schools.
(34) The Chairman thanked Ms Atkinson for the data that she had supplied and for attending the meeting to answer questions from the Committee.