Last Updated August 2013
There are various reasons parents want their children to change schools outside the normal transfer frameworks, both in the primary and secondary school sectors.
The most common is moving house: expatriates moving back from foreign countries; children of UK service personnel or crown servants returning home; those moving into Kent or Medway from another county, or those moving within the area.
There are also parents unhappy with their child’s current school or those seeking a grammar school place post the 11 plus or currently attending a non-selective school, or those simply looking for what they perceive as a ‘better’ school.
Some parents decide after primary or secondary school offers are made in March, during the normal admission process, that they now wish to apply for further schools.
Finally (I think) those whose children have been home-schooled or attending a private school and, for a variety of reasons wish them to take up a place in a state school.
Offering comprehensive advice on admissions or appeals in an article such as this is unmanageable, and this is one of my most busy Telephone Consultation areas. I am also happy to take on cases for appeal where I consider there is a chance of success.
However, some pointers:
$1· Proof of residence is often the key sticking point for those moving house.
$1· However, if the school of your choice has vacancies, then place of residence is immaterial provided it is in the United Kingdom.
$1· Otherwise, with few exceptions (some church schools & the super-selective grammar schools), you will not be considered for a place at the school until you have committed yourself to purchase (contract signed) or rented (6 month rental agreement, sometimes 12) a property in the neighbourhood unless there are vacancies (if the school is selective your child will still need to take an admission tests first).
$1· Many parents want a school place before they move house. Apart from the exceptions above, you won’t get one, certainly not if you are moving from another country. However, there is nothing to stop you making enquiries of the school directly – each will have its own policy for dealing with such enquiries. These range from no assistance (most common with heavily oversubscribed schools and some primary schools with limited facilities to deal with a large number of enquiries), through to those schools who will offer a visit to look round and a discussion. Do not assume that the latter are short of applicants. Some believe it is a common courtesy for potential parents.
$1· Almost by definition, the most popular schools are oversubscribed (full), and so you will be looking at an application followed by an appeal that may of course not be successful. As a result, many children spend a period of time out of school, which can be as much as three months (even I have a grandchild who has recently spent this amount of time without a school!).
$1· Almost without exception, entrance to grammar school is via an admission test, which will usually be set in-house, and varies in content from school to school. Success in one school’s entrance test is rarely transferable to a second school
$1· Most grammar schools are full in each Year Group (but feel free to check) and so there are several stages to securing a place. After you apply the school determines if it going to test before making a decision. If the child is successful you will be offered an oversubscription appeal to try and win a place. If unsuccessful in the test, you still have the right to appeal, whether or not the school is full, but will additionally have to show alternative evidence that your child is of grammar school ability. Sometimes the child will be turned down without testing on the grounds that the school is full. In this case if you go ahead with an appeal, the child will need to be tested before the hearing so that appropriate evidence is forthcoming.
Challenging Behaviour & Exclusion
Where the child has a history of challenging behaviour (who defines this?) or has been permanently excluded from at least two other schools special rules apply but only for In Year applications. (School Admission Code 3.9) – However, the Local Authority still has to find a place locally for such a child.
$1· In Kent, the procedure is now very simple, having moved from a horribly bureaucratic process imposed by government this year. You simply need an In-Year Casual Application Form and send it to the schools you are interested in. In a change of procedure, there is now no centralised process, so you can send as many applications in as you wish. If turned down, you have the right to appeal.
$1· In Medway, life is more complicated. For most schools, you complete a Casual Admission Form, available on request from Medway Council, on which you can list up to four schools in order. The Council then manages the process and offers you your highest preference where there is a vacancy, or else allocates you to the nearest school with a vacancy. Medway Council states it will contact your previous school to establish your child’s current educational ability, although this appears to be an unlawful process if is used as part of the admission process (I seen no other reason for the request at this stage in the process before the child has been offered a place). It also seeks to determine if the child has a history of challenging behaviour. Medway may try and insist on your being locally resident but cannot deny your right to apply using your current address provided it is in this country.
$1· For some Medway schools, you can apply directly to the school and don’t need to include them on the Medway In-Year Admission Form even if you use this for other schools. At the time of writing (August 2013) these schools are: Chattenden Primary school; English Martyrs Catholic Primary school; The Phoenix Academy; St James CE Primary school; St Mary's Catholic Primary school; St Michael's RC Primary school; St Thomas More Primary school; The Academy at Woodlands. Secondary schools operating their own procedure are: Chatham Grammar School for Boys; Rainham School for Girls; Strood Academy; & Rochester Grammar school.
$1· For Grammar schools, Medway again tries to operate a centralised system which all grammar schools appear to have chosen to comply with, although as academies they can determine their own procedure. The authority states: ‘If you name a Medway grammar school on your application, arrangements will be made for your child to be assessed to determine if they are suitable for a grammar school education. This will normally be in the form of a test, but if your child has previously sat the Medway Test, we will seek for academic work to be reviewed. Please contact the Student Services (Admissions) Team for further advice’. This appears to state that academic work from the previous school should NOT be sought if the child has not previously sat the Medway Test, as is indeed the case unless it is in the school’s individual admission criteria.
$1· There is still no formal 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.
I regularly work with expatriates, who are relocating back to Kent to try and secure places for their children in Year 7 of new secondary schools each September. Their problems appear particularly acute as KCC is not allowed to begin the process until they are domiciled in the UK.
Ypu will find in this section entries on every oversubscribed state secondary school, all Academies in Kent and Medway and some others. I am also building up the pages on Primary Schools in Kent and Medway (mainly those which have had an OFSTED in the past year), together with comments on issues such as oversubscription pressures. You will also find something on each Special School. Entries are updated as time permits. If you want information on a particular school or comment on any entry in these pages, let me know and if relevant, I will include it. There is considerable information about some schools on other relevant pages, which can usually be tracked through the website search engine. There is considerable information about Academies and Free Schools here.
Thanks to those who have already sent in corrections or additions. I am happy to receive further comments and information.
If you are considering a school the OFSTED Report and School Performance Table are useful sources of information. With regard to the latter, the value added pages are often a more significant guide than the absolute performance. This is because the performance tables reflect the academic ability of the pupils as well as the quality of the teaching, and some school will focus on entering pupils for particular courses or else concentrating on performance in the tables at the extent of the quality of education. The latter is particularly evident at Key Stage 2 in Primary Schools. Do not just look at the first page of the tables, there is much valuable information on subsequent pages.
There is no mention of a few secondary schools which have spare places and have not otherwise featured in the data I collect. Where an Appeal Panel is not mentioned for an oversubscribed or grammar school, it will have used a Kent or Medway Council Appeal Panel.
The Level of oversubscription (if any) of first choices at the beginning of March is indicated at the end of each entry, and is usually provided for several years. For grammar schools the figure relates only to children who have passed the Kent or Medway test. Clearly there was significant movement on waiting lists for many schools since then, so most of these figures will fall through the summer.
Last Updated August 2016
If GCSE results are not as planned (better, worse, or just different), and you may need to seek a change of direction, the first thing to do is to seek as much independent advice as possible. First port of call will be your school that should have staff who know you available to provide advice on possible steps. However, remember that schools do have an interest in developing the best sixth form possible, so their advice may not be independent. The best schools will have invited in a member of CXK Connexions, which offers an independent careers service to assist in the process. Kent County Council also has an information page, which provides further links.
All students have a range of options after GCSE, although many do not think of these, being comfortable with staying at the same school. Others are told they may not go on to their home school sixth form, without being told the regulations covering such decisions. See below.
For students for whom A Level is the sensible option, most will have alternative schools that are possibilities. Whether these make sense may depend on such issues as courses provided, grades required to be admitted, the academic standards of the school. Many single sex grammar schools will admit students of the opposite gender into the sixth form. Many students from non-selective schools may benefit from a transfer to grammar school, although their welcome varies according to the ethos of the school.
You will find a recent article on Sixth Form opportunities by me, providing a wide range of extra data on individual schools, which may prove helpful, here.
It is a good idea for all potential A Level students to ask to see the profile of A Level results at the school for each subject they are considering – remember, you are the customer and should carry out research before buying!
Many non selective schools operate successful sixth forms (look at the results to determine which), and many schools are in consortia to extend the range of A Level courses.
Other important options are vocational courses or the local College of Further (and Higher) Education, with West Kent College also offering A Level subjects (the others have ceased A Level provision), usually with lower GCSE entrance requirements. The colleges also offer opportunities to make up for important subjects which have not been gained first time round. College Foundation courses are often suitable for students with limited success at school.
I do not consider myself qualified to comment on such courses, but I recommend you contact CXK Connexions if your school uses them, who will offer independent advice on possibilities. CXK is a charity replacing the previous statutory Connexions and Kent Careers Services (Government has also removed the grant for, and hence effectively closed down ACE, the Advisory Centre for Education, apparently preferring schools to retain some control over their students' future paths). Remember, schools may have their own agenda when offering advice: - do they want to attract, put off, the student; do they have sufficient numbers to run the relevant course; will recommendations be influenced by their need to perform in league tables, etc.
Students or their parents have the right to appeal to an Independent Appeal Panel against a decision not to offer a place in a school sixth form and I am happy to offer support here through a telephone consultation. The School Admission Appeals Code also offers information at paras 3.16 & 3.17. The big drawback is that the Admission Authority has up to forty school days in which to arrange an appeal hearing after the appeal is lodged. Clients of mine have been successful in several such appeals where it is clear the school has acted unreasonably, or else there is a good reason for underperformance, Remarkably, some schools are unaware of (or don't know) the possibilities of flexibility.
AA I have published a recent news item on proposed changes to the free school transport scheme in Kent.
- If your child has been awarded a place at the nearest appropriate school, you may be eligible for free transport.
- The nearest appropriate school can be your nearest non selective school, your nearest denominational school, or your nearest grammar school.
- If you applied for the nearest appropriate school and it was full, then the ruling applies to the next nearest and so on.
- The criterion in Kent & Medway is three miles for a secondary school, and two for a primary school.
- This is calculated by the shortest walking route (which excludes for example the M2 in Medway!).
- Medway has a list of some schools in their admission booklet, where free transport applies.
- Medway parents living on the Hoo Peninsula have had considerable success with appeals for transport to Medway Grammar Schools (not necessarily the nearest) and if relevant to you, don't be put off. I am happy to support parents for such appeals.
- In both Kent & Medway, appeals against transport decisions are initially to a Panel of Councillors, and there are successes each year, often on grounds of wrong measurements. Medway appears more flexible for 'exceptional circumstances'.