Welcome to the forum Freeda!
Sorry no-one has replied yet to your specific questions - I think a lot of members are away or are glued to the Olympics!
I'm in Gravesend, I'm so afraid I can't answer your Maidstone questions.
I can give my opinion on other state secondaries though.
I feel that those with children at Grammar, like my DD1 (going in to year 13) look down on secondaries - I admit I did myself!
Then DD2, only 2 years behind DD1, suffers from dyslexia/dyspraxia and poor vision - and suddenly the idea she would follow her sister to Grammar was totally absurd as in year 6 she couldn't even spell the word 'eleven', let alone take the 'eleven plus'!
Asking friends about single-sex or mixed secondaries was a bad idea as all I heard was horrible things and dire warnings of chavness, smoking, bullying and assault. No-one told me any good stories.Looking around the schools at open evenings was more helpful, and visiting during the school day was even better.
DD2 could have gone to the local secondary a few hundred yards away, but their Special Needs Coordinator admitted that DD2 was far too well behaved to receive any help - but if she could throw a chair in the classroom, she would be given extra help
Another school said that because of her poor vision, they could tailor help to her specific needs. Needless to say, we chose that school - but she didn't get in! A newly-built housing estate between us and the school meant that the catchment had shrunk from about 4 miles to 1.6 miles and as we lived 2.2 miles away, she didn't get a place. That's when I discovered the this helpful website and the appeals section - we appealed and won!
DD2 has been there for 4 years, has made wonderful friends, tried really hard at school, been supported by teachers, and instead of taking a couple of lower, foundation level GCSEs, is studying 6 higher level GCSEs and diplomas. There are 'chavvy' girls and smokers and occasional bullying, but that DOES happen at Grammars too.
Secondary schools can't compete in the league tables with Grammars, as Grammars do take the top 25% of pupils, but the other 75% have to be educated somewhere, and just because they're not academic doesn't mean they're all thicko hooligans - but most are delightful, hardworking young people!
Sorry for long reply, but wanted to assure you that the non-Grammar schools aren't dens of terrible education - some will tell you they are - but they often don't have children at the schools, but just pass on rumours!
Hope you get replies from the Maidstone lot soon!