Last week, some 9,000 Kent children took the Kent eleven plus, results due on 18th October. Parents then have less than two weeks until 31 October (a week shorter than last year!) to list four secondary schools in preference order on the Secondary Common Application Form (SCAF), so early planning is important. Already some secondary schools have held Open Days, and parents should visit all possible schools and ask about the chances of a successful application.
It is impossible to give specific advice on choosing schools in a short article, as the situation varies enormously from town to town and often year by year. My website at www.kentadvice.co.uk provides more information and I plan to expand this shortly.
If your child passes the Kent test, you can name just grammar schools on your SCAF. If you don’t qualify for any of these, you may be offered the nearest grammar school with a vacancy but last year some parents were offered non selective places as there were no other local grammar school places vacant. If your child has passed the eleven plus and you name grammar schools and a non selective school, for example a church comprehensive school, you will be offered the highest school on your list for which you are eligible, whether or not it is a grammar school. If your child has taken the eleven plus and not passed, you must include any grammar on the SCAF you wish to appeal to, but I recommend you include at least one non-selective school. Appeals will not be heard until the summer of Year Six. If your child has not taken the eleven plus, you can only apply for non selective schools. Some schools last year still claimed falsely that parents needed to put the school first on the SCAF to secure a place.
After closing date each school draws up a list of eligible applicants according to their oversubscription rules. They are not told where you listed them on the SCAF or which other schools you applied to, so list schools exactly as you prefer them - there is no way of improving your chances at a school by tactics of choice. The only exception to this is, if going to appeal, you will find the appeal panel is told and may be influenced by the school you have been allocated. There is no advantage in putting just one school on your list.
I strongly recommend you apply on-line so you reliably receive results the day before they are delivered by post. Last year over 79% of Kent parents went online.
On National Offer Day 1st March 2011, your child will be allocated the highest preference school for which they qualify. So some children could get their fourth choice ahead of others who listed it first if their claim is stronger. If you don’t qualify for any school on your list, KCC offers a place at the nearest appropriate school with vacancies.
This is a time when rumours swirl about the playground gates, many of them old wives tales. If in doubt check it out and my best wishes to every family going through what is undoubtedly an extremely stressful process. Remember, over 80% of all families were offered their first choice school in March last year, a figure which will have been much higher after the appeals process was concluded.