Very out of date: Needs rewriting, as soon as I have time
Update: 9 November. I am still receiving enquiries from parents who have been waiting for upwards of two months for a decision on which school they are being allocated. The Kent Secondary Transfer Scheme states that decisions should be made within 13 school days of the In Year Form being received. For primary schools it is 10 school days.
From September 2010 onwards, all applications to join a school outside the normal admission round have to be carried out through a centralised admission scheme, rather than, the previous method of approaching individual schools directly. You will find details of the Kent process here. It comes on Page 14 of the Determined Admission Arrangements of the 2011 Co-ordinated scheme. You will find the Medway Scheme here at Annex 5.
As Medway is a much smaller Authority than Kent the processes may well be much speedier to implement.
This is a hugely bureaucratic process, and you may be lucky to find a school prepared to ignore it. This issue presented Kent with massive administrative problems in September, because of the large number of applicants and was featured on BBC SE with a contribution from myself.
You will need in the first instance to approach the Local Authority for an In-Year Common Application Form (IYCAF), in Medway (SCAF) which will also provide an information pack outlining the process. For Kent and Medway secondary schools, parents can apply to up to four schools through this process. The LA then oversees the entry process and arranges that the child will be offered a place at the highest ranked school for which the child is eligible, or if none of these, then an alternative school.
The Kent Secondary Transfer Scheme states that decisions should be made within 13 school days of the In Year Form being received. For primary schools it is 10 school days. Clearly KCC is unable to meet these deadlines because of pressure of numbers.
In the case of grammar school applications, this process threatens to be fiendishly complex!
At the end of the process, if unsuccessful at a school of their choice, parents will have the right to appeal or go on a waiting list, although clearly the administration of the new IYCAF will delay the whole procedure.
Applications across county borders are even more complex!
For Year 7 in September 2011, there will be particular difficulties for new applicants and for parents wishing to apply for fresh schools after the initial allocations are made. In Kent these are made on the same IYCAF, which will be considered after initial reallocations are made on 4th April. Vacant spaces will only offered through Kent County Council on 6 May, 10th June, and 8th July. You cannot make an appeal for a school until your application has been turned down.
If you are making your first application for grammar schools, testing will be organised if one of your grammar schools has vacant spaces, otherwise you may be turned down without testing. If you then appeal, testing will need to be organised, the problem being that it will be at the school's convenience and you may have to wait several weeks before knowing the outcome. I will attempt to clarify this as the season develops, but there is still some uncertainty about the processes.
I am already working with several expatriates, who are relocating back to Kent to try and secure places for their children in Year 7 of new secondary schools for September. Their problems appear particularly acute as KCC is not allowed to begin the process until they are domiciled in the UK.
There is still no reference in the Medway scheme to applicants who have already applied to schools through the normal process, but wish now to submit a late application after allocations have been made. Historically this was at the discretion of the Admissions Manager (rarely given) but is mainly allowable for some grammar schools and out of county applicants only.