On what basis can you say that the the cohort was strong ? 316/420 = 0.75 which is the usual pass mark at the grammar schools. That seems to imply that the raw scores were distributed pretty much as usual.
You cannot equate 316 out of 420 to 75% - 316 is a normalised score, with the average score at 300. My comment about the cohort was based on feedback from a parent who requested the raw score for a child who scored 299 - their Raw score was just under 70%, which suggests an average score of 70% for the cohort, which would either indicate an easy set of papers or a strong cohort
What's HT recommendation ? The essay is only important in the case that the child doesn't achieve the pass mark; it's not even considered otherwise.
At the BW open day, we were told that for borderline cases the essay would be taken into account as well as the HT recommendation. In DS class a child who scored under 305 was offered a place, whilst 2 children who scored 312 and 315 were not offered places - you have to believe that the child who was offered a place with a very low score wrote an exceptional essay and had a very good HT recommendation
I agree that for chidren who get over the pass mark, then the essay and HT recomendation are not relevant, however, in DS class, 3 children passed out of 6 Children who would have done really well at GS - at least 2 of the children who were not offered a place might have done so if they had written better essays, which is why I say that it is really important