21 November 2017
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Moving to secondary school

How do I make my Secondary School choice?

Read the Admission to Secondary Schools in Kent booklet for secondary schools. This is available on the Education and Learning section on the KCC website. In the autumn all schools have open evenings and days. All schools will have information packs and websites but visits are the best way to see what’s really going on. Talking to other parents does help but bear in mind that we see a great deal of rumour abounding from Year 5 onwards so it pays to get it from the schools not from playground chat, although this can be useful! It is important to involve your child in the decision and we are happy to authorise visits to the secondary schools. Please ensure you complete a Request for Pupil Pass in advance and we do ask you to bring your child to registration before you go.

When do I need to make my choices?

If you want your child to sit the PESE selective education tests (11+ tests) you will need to apply on-line (or by post) around late June/July of Year 5. The date is usually published in the Education and Learning section of the KCC website. This year registration opens on Monday 1st June 2017 and closes on 3rd July 2017. If possible please forward a copy to jodi.stevens@claremont.kent.sch.uk for our records. Details about the new format of the test are available on the KCC website. Tests are taken currently in the second week of September. This year they are on 7th September 2017. Results are sent by e-mail from 4pm and posted to you in October from the Local Authority. This year's date is 12th October 2017.The Local Authority can provide you with the exact breakdown of scores if you wish. The booklet should answer most questions but the Kent Admissions team and experienced choice advisers can be reached on 01622 696565 or kent.admissions@kent.gov.uk. Our Admissions Officer, Jodi Stevens, can point you in the right direction, and our staff are aware how stressful a time this is and will advise, but each secondary school has a similar person and they are often very helpful. You then submit the secondary application form by post or on-line in October. The closing date for this year is 31st October 2017. National Offer Day for secondary school places is usually 1st March if you applied online.

Should my child sit the 11 plus?

The school is happy to advise you about their likelihood of passing although we can never predict with 100% accuracy, and this is especially true now that the tests have changed. Standardised scores are age related so that younger children aren’t disadvantaged and we do provide those along with levels. Our ticks on the reports we send you three times a year are specifically related to National Curriculum Age Related Expectations (ARE). Whilst high attainment on the national curriculum would indicate potential for passing PESE (11 plus) there is no direct correlation particularly as the current national assessment is new this year. Further details on scores and pass marks are on the KCC website where there is also information on the nature of the new tests.

As the 11 plus is now taken before school choices have to be made, more pupils are entering who might be regarded as ‘borderline’ or unlikely to pass. Success in tests is patently not just about academic ability, or even intelligence, but about performing under stress and against the clock. Your biggest questions are really whether your child will be able to cope with that kind of pressure for the next seven years i.e. are they actually suited to grammar school. Many Claremont children go to Comprehensive schools and find themselves in top or middle sets, and flourish. In addition, you must also consider how they will cope with failing the tests should it happen.

Claremont staff will never be able to tell you whether your child will pass but they can share an opinion. None of the tests we do to assess pupils has any direct correlation with 11 plus tests past or future and please remember that, much as we understand the context we work in, we are not permitted to prepare children for the 11 plus and all your children's results would be void if we did so.

Do schools have a catchment area?

You should check with individual schools. Distance is a key criterion but it changes every year so no, catchment areas are not fixed. Some schools still offer a sibling preference now but each school has clear criteria which could relate to scores, faith and distance. East Sussex schools also take a number of our children and their ‘catchments’ are equally unfixed and vary every year.

Will some grammar schools set a higher bar for admissions?

Your best source of information will be the secondary schools themselves at their open evenings in the autumn, and in the information available from Kent. So make sure you ask the questions you need to, and do visit with your Y6 child. Historically, Skinners’, Judd and ToGS are super-selective. These schools set the bar higher than the basic 11 plus pass and it varies annually.

You are now able to seek the best school fit for your child with the prior knowledge of their scores if they sit the test. The schools don’t know where you rank them; they rank all applicants regardless of preference order using their over-subscription criteria published in the booklet. They return their rankings to the LA who compute all offers and then give you your highest possible preference. Everyone in the country is posted their offer of a place at the start of March.

How does Claremont do in 11 plus?

We tend to see between 55% and 65% of our pupils passing in a given year. State Primary Schools do not coach for the 11 plus. If we were proved to have done so all your children’s results would be null and void.

What happens if my child fails their 11 plus?

If your child misses the 11 plus cut off in one paper by a small number of marks, and we feel there is enough evidence in their year 5 work to convince an independent panel of their suitability, we can appeal privately for them to be granted a selective place using their close scores and classwork as evidence. Parents are not informed of this but you will see that it has happened if your child’s scores suggest they didn’t pass but they have still been offered a selective place. Your child must be be able to demonstrate a very high standard of class work from Year 5, or to be making significantly accelerated progress in their last few terms. However, there will also be a parent appeal stage for you to try and over-turn the decision using arguments we might deploy such as previous performance, rapid recent progress, illness during tests etc. Where we agree it is appropriate, we are happy to provide a supporting letter for your case.

After parents' appeals (usually May/June) there is no more appealing but you can still ask to be placed on a school’s waiting list from September.

What does Claremont do to prepare children for secondary school?

Our aim is to ensure that our pupils are 'secondary ready'. Our motto is ‘Let Every Light Shine’ and the staff work very hard to make every child feel valued and unique here. Our pupils make excellent transitions to secondary schools and you can help by reminding your child that every pupil here is special and that each should get the right school for them

Who do I talk to about worries?

Most parents will tell that, actually, the only goal is to get the right school for your child. In school, we do not subscribe to the view that one school is better than another, each is best for the children who seek to go there.

If you have questions or worries, you can come and see staff here who have very broad and often lengthy experience; you can talk to other parents; you can contact the Kent admissions team; Choice advisers and especially talk to the schools direct.

We wish you and your child every success as you make this important decision for the next step in their educational journey.

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