Kendrick School’s admissions policy appears to give preference to disadvantaged girls but on average benefits just one quarter of a girl each year. Data provided by the DfE (spreadsheet) confirms just how ineffective their policy is. 31.8% of Reading’s non-selective school pupils are in receipt of Pupil Premium (PP) compared to just 2.1% of those at Kendrick School.
The reason for this becomes apparent when you examine the way the Kendrick School decide who they admit. Unlike GCSEs where there is a fixed pass mark, Kendrick’s tests are locally standardised. This euphemistic oxymoron refers to the school’s practice of setting the “qualifying score” after the tests have been taken, so that it incorporates just the right number of applicants to fill all the places with a few more spare on the waiting list. 11+ test results are routinely manipulated to give the false appearance the “qualifying score” is fixed which is better explained in this short video.
The only time disadvantaged girls benefit from Kendrick’s ‘prioritising’ them is in the rare circumstance their score puts them in the wafer thin ‘waiting list zone’. Hardly compensation for the vast amounts of tutoring their more affluent peers are given to improve their test scores. Just one additional correctly answered question can move a candidate up 20 to 30 positions in the final ranking so asking whether tutoring is significant is like strapping a jet engine onto a bicycle and questioning whether it’ll actually go any faster.
Kendrick’s ‘prioritising’ is probably best demonstrated with a simple example.
The school want to fill 96 places with, say, 12 on the waiting list so set the “qualifying score” to capture just those 96 + 12 = 108 candidates with the highest test scores. Those ranked in the top 96 places would get a place anyway, so the policy only benefits disadvantaged girls ranked between 97th and 108th. The proportion of them who benefit specifically from Kendrick’s admissions policy is
One ninth of 2.1% works out as one quarter of a girl (0.252 to be precise). A quarter girl would get a bit messy in practice but on average, once every four years, one disadvantaged girl benefits from Kendrick’s ‘inclusive’ admissions policy.
There are 1,661 disadvantaged children attending Reading’s non-selective secondary schools.
I asked Kendrick School to provide the actual figures of how many disadvantaged girls have benefitted since they modified their admissions policy to admit as this is fundamental to any objective due diligence into the effectiveness of the current admission policy in attracting disadvantaged girls.
This funding is specifically for grammar schools which have, “ambitious and realistic plans for increasing access for disadvantaged pupils”. The only way Kendrick can possibly achieve this is by setting aside the additional 32 places for disadvantaged girls. The school would then more accurately reflect the makeup of the community it is supposed to serve and such a change would be a fitting tribute to Tudor philanthropist, John Kendrick who left his fortune to educate the poor, leading to the establishment of Kendrick School.
Definition of ‘disadvantaged’
The National Pupil Database records whether individual pupils are in receipt of Free School Meals (FSM) at each census but Pupil Premium (PP) records whether they have been in receipt of FSM any time in the last six years. This latter measure is used by the DfE as the basis for additional school funding. Researchers use both FSM and PP to as measures of relative deprivation, which is fine as long as they dont mix ‘n’ match because FSM figures are always lower but having two measures is a constant source of confusion. Kendrick School’s oversubscription criteria uses PP hence I have used this to compare them against the other non-selective schools in Reading in evaluating the effectiveness of their inclusivity policy.