Rethink over Catholic schools’ Kent Test ban

Kent Catholic School Partnership has paused a movement to prevent students from sitting the Kent Test.

This started during late November of this year, when the parents of some religious schools within Kent were informed that their children would not be allowed to sit the Kent Test at the orders of the Archbishop of Southwark John Wilson.

A letter sent to staff members of Catholic schools across Kent and South London stated: “It is diocesan policy, at the request of the Archbishop, that school premises are not used to promote non-Catholic schools. This includes the use of Catholic premises for administering grammar school tests.”

“We have taken the decision to ‘pause’ the action”

But after a lot of complaints from parents whose children attend these Kent Schools, a new letter has been sent to parents from the Kent Catholic Schools Partnership.

Chair of the Trust Board Mike Powis and Chief Executive Clive Webster wrote within the letter that they have received the responses to the diocesan policy that will prevent pupils in schools from sitting the Kent Test in-school, and that the points made by the parents and carers in response to the policy are valid.

St. Thomas' Catholic School
St. Thomas’ Catholic School, Canterbury. This is one of the schools in Kent affected by the diocesan.

“Understandably, the point has been made that current children may be disadvantaged because siblings and friends have had what is seen as the benefit of taking the Kent Test in familiar surroundings, and that the ability of this to happen was a significant factor in their choice of a Catholic primary in Kent.

“Parents and carers to respond have also highlighted a lack of awareness of the policy and their expectation that the convention in many primaries to administer the test would continue.

“Whilst the policy remains in place, we have taken the decision to ‘pause’ the action initiated to cease allowing the administration of the test on Catholic primary premises. This is to allow for a period of reflection, including discussion at our Trust Board meeting on December 11, and any subsequent decisions that may be necessary in respect of the policy itself.”

“I must point out that this is not an executive decision by me” – Principal Sara Wakefield

It seems as though the criticisms for the test has been noted, but the policy will only be delayed and not stopped outright.

While some parents are even angrier about the apparent lack of awareness that the partnership shows, faculty from some of the schools affected have been speaking out to explain that they’re being forced to follow procedure by the partnership.

Sara Wakefield, Executive Principal of St.Peter’s Catholic Primary School in Sittingbourne states: “I must point out this is not a decision made by me as executive principal or the academy alone. As a Catholic academy we are required to follow policies laid down by our Catholic diocese in the name of our Archbishop John Wilson.

John Wilson
John Wilson, the Archbishop of Southwark.

“Though a number of Catholic schools and academies have been in breach of this long-standing policy, it demands that the premises and resources of Catholic schools and academies are for the promotion of Catholic, non-selective education.”

The Kent Catholic Schools Partnership wrote that there would be a discussion during a Trust Board meeting on the 11th of December this month. That is when debate about the diocesan will happen.