Successful Ombudsman Complaints in Kent & Medway against Foundation and Voluntary Aided School Admissions for 2010 entry were as follows. Please note, most of these will have led to fresh hearings and not necessarily a place at the school: Barton Court Grammar, Canterbury 1; Borden Grammar, Sittingbourne 1; Frittenden CofE Primary, Cranbrook 1; Hampton Primary, Herne Bay 1; Hoo St Werburgh Primary 1; Howard, Rainham 1; Oakwood Park Grammar, Maidstone 1; Rochester Girls Grammar 2; St William of Perth RC Primary 1; Simon Langton Girls' Grammar, Canterbury 1; Sir Roger Manwood's, Sandwich 3; Skinners, Tonbridge 1; Stoke Community Primary, Rochester 1; Thamesview Gravesend 1; Thomas Aveling, Rochester 1.
Successful Ombudsman Complaints in Kent & Medway against Foundation and Voluntary Aided School Admissions for 2009 entry were as follows: Archbishop's School, Canterbury 2; Bennett Memorial School, Tunbridge Wells 2; Borden CofE Primary, Sittingbourne 1; Dane Court Grammar School, Broadstairs 2; Fort Pitt Grammar, Chatham 1; Gravesend Grammar School 2; Gravesend Grammar School for Girls 2; Homewood School, Tenterden 2; Maidstone Boys Grammar 3; Maplesdon Noakes School, Maidstone 2; Mascalls School, Paddock Wood 1; Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School, Faversham 1; St Peter in Thanet CofE Junior 1; St George's CofE School Gravesend 2; St Simon Stock RC School, Maidstone 2; Simon Langton Boys Grammar 1; Sir Roger Manwoods School, Sandwich 1; The Skinners School 4; Tonbridge Grammar School 1; Tunbridge Wells Girls Grammar School 3; Ursuline RC School, Margate 3; Weald of Kent Grammar School for Girls, Tonbridge 14; Wilmington Grammar School for Boys 3; Wrotham School 8.
Successful Ombudsman Complaints in Kent against Foundation and Voluntary Aided School Admissions for 2008 entry were as follows. : Deal Parochial CofE Primary School 1, Barton Court Grammar School 1, Bennett Memorial Diocesan School 1, Cranbrook School 0 (+6 in 2007), Dane Court Grammar School 3, Dartford Boys Grammar School 1, Dover Grammar School for Boys 1, Folkestone School for Girls 1 (+ 1 in 2007), Gravesend Grammar School for Girls 1,The Judd School 1, Rochester Grammar School 1, Robert Napier School 1, St George's CofE School Gravesend 1; Simon Langton Grammar School for Boys 1, Skinners School 2; Thomas Aveling School 1, Tunbridge Wells Grammar School for Girls 5 (+ 1 in 2007), Westlands School 1, Wilmington Grammar School for Boys 4, The Grammar School for Girls Wilmington 2, Wrotham School 2.
Complaints against Schools controlled by KCC or Medway Council are not listed individually but are as follows:
For Kent in 2010, 21 settlements concerned applications and appeals for admission to schools where the Council is the admissions authority. The faults included wrong or insufficient information being presented to appeal panels, inappropriate questioning by panellists and poor record keeping. In 14 cases the Council agreed to settle the complaint by the offer of a fresh appeal hearing. In five cases the Council offered a place at the preferred school. I found fault in four other admission cases but used my discretion not to pursue these as I was not satisfied that any injustice had been caused.
For Medway there were no Education Admission Complaints
- The Ombudsman published two reports on complaints following Kent School Appeals in February 2009. Both can be found here. The first of these, following a complaint by me, was about an infant admission appeal to Deal Parochial Primary School. As a result, the child was awarded a place at the school. This case highlights a worrying feature of a number of church school admission policies (both primary and secondary) across Kent. The dioceses of both Canterbury and Rochester are required to be consulted on these, but the procedure is clearly faulty. The school adjudicator examined a number of these in the summer and as a result, there are some changes in the pipeline. The second Report is on Fulston Manor School. Interestingly, although there were considerable faults identified in the appeal process, the Report agrees that the decision not to uphold the appeal was the correct one! Fulston Manor School has taken steps to remove the faults in its procedures. There have been no subsequent problems with appeals at the school.
- The Ombudsman archive pages referred to above, reveal that three of my complaints have produced published Reports (where the complaint may be of national interest), out of a total of 23 on school admissions in the past four years. Indeed as one Report was for seven of my clients, these nearly amounted to a majority of all complaints! A total of five of the Reports relate to Kent schools (all Foundation or Voluntary Aided Schools).
- For 2008 entry, I won complaints to the Ombudsman on behalf of seven families at Sir Joseph Williamson's Mathematical School, Rochester. Medway Council admitted major faults in the process, coupled with further faults by the Independent Appeal Panel and has now offered places at the school to all those boys who had passed the Medway Test, but were turned down on appeal. This is the third time in six years I have secured places at this school through complaints to the ombudsman on behalf of groups of parents, representing a total of 27 families over this time, along with many others who were successful at appeal in the first place!
- Because there was a local settlement, not all issues were considered by the Ombudsman, but he expressed considerable concern over the operation of the Medway oversubscription distance criteria for oversubscription. A number of parents were never given details of why their sons had been turned even after the Panel Chairman instructed the Council to provide these before individual appeals. The Council was criticised for not providing the correct paperwork for the appeal and for introducing new evidence (actually just assertions) at the appeal, without notice. The Council neither provided details of the school capacity, not any evidence there would be prejudice if additional pupils were admitted. The council presenting officer did not know that secondary school rolls were falling in Medway. The previous headteacher (now retired) stated at his Open Evening that in the past all parents whose sons had passed the Medway Test and persevered in their applications to the school had eventally been offered places.
For entry in September 2009, the school strongly resisted any additional admissions and just three appeals were successful. This time, although the Ombudsman recognised faults in the process he did not uphold any complaints.
- Another of my successful ombudsman complaints was at The Thomas Aveling School in Medway for 2009 entry, the key issue once again being faulty distance plotting. I have won several appeals on these grounds in previous years.
- The Ombudsman published a Report on a number of successful complaints at Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School, Faversham, where I secured places for eight children (22 May 2007). Following resolution of the complaints, each family appealed a second time for a place at the school with my support and was successful. The Foundation school had used the KCC Appeals Service and the summary sentence of the Report reads 'Governors cannot take it for granted, without proper enquiry, that the appeals service which they commission will be fit for purpose'. This is a powerful indictment of the process, and the Ombudsman found sixteen different examples of maladministration in the operation of the appeals, including wholly inappropriate questioning, an inadequate clerking service, information provided to the Panel but not to parents, incorrect procedural guidance issued by KCC to parents, pressure put on parents to keep statements and hearings unneccesarily short, refusal to accept parental evidence, improper consideration of headteacher appeal evidence, etc, etc. The previous year another Report on one of my cases was published, this time at St John’s RC Comprehensive school in Gravesend. Copies of these reports are available from the Ombudsman's Office. The recent Kent Reports reports can be found here.