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Peter Read

The Press releases of both Kent County and Medway Councils celebrate the good news that record proportions of pupils have received  offers of Primary School places meeting their preferences. Unfortunately,  both omit to mention this is because of a sharp fall in the number of children in their current pre-school cohort.

 Kent County Council's Press Release regarding Primary School allocations this week rightly acknowledges the good news for most families:'A record number, 97% of Kent children will be offered one of their preferred primary schools on Primary offer day 18 April. This is the highest recorded percentage achieved since coordinated primary admissions began'.  

  You will find a full breakdown of the data for 2017 and previous years below. Whilst this is no consolation for everyone, it is still excellent news for most with the proportion of first choices at 89.1% being above the national average of 88%.

Medway Council (Serving You) as usual has sent out an opaque press release on allocations, this year even thinner and vaguer than usual. With so little to go on, I have only been able to quote general percentages in the table below. Once again the Portfolio Holder for Children's Services, said: 'It is wonderful to see so many children in Medway offered a place at one of their preferred schools, and such a high number at their first preference school'. A great pity he forgot to mention that this improvement in the percentage of pupils gaining schools of their preference is purely down to a reduction of 162  Medway children looking for places.  

I will publish further details on oversubscription and vacancies at Reception Level and at Junior schools in Kent and Medway when I receive them, hopefully next week, but you can see a flavour of the situation from my 2016 article on Kent oversubscription and vacancies here, and for Medway here

The continuation below begins with some advice on next steps if you have not received the school of your choice. You will find informaion and advice on appeals here.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017 22:47

Eleven New Kent and Medway Free Schools

Government has today announced approval for eleven new Free schools in Kent and Medway, amongst 131 nationally. These “exclude those meeting a need identified by Local Authorities”. They contain some familiar names, and some wholly new to Kent or Medway. You will find a full list here.

The prospect of one or more becoming grammar schools is signalled by the government statement.

I look further at the individual schools below and will update this article as I learn new information. The article concludes with an explanation of the distinction between the terms 'academy' and 'free school'. 

This article looks at the practice of off-rolling in Kent secondary schools, whereby some schools encourage some pupils to leave the school before GCSE. This may be an attempt to try and secure better GCSE results for the school.Last month, Ofsted’s Director of Education asked his Inspectorial team to look for Inspection evidence as to whether schools are off-rolling students before GCSEs are taken, which will in future count against them in any Inspection judgement.

The schools with the highest number of off-rolled students by number or percentage before the 2016 GCSEs are: Sittingbourne Community College and Westlands School (both part of the Swale Academies Trust); Oasis Academy Isle of Sheppey; Charles Dickens School; and High Weald Academy. Pent Valley School, at that time being managed by Swale Academies Trust has now closed.

I also look more closely at the influence of Pupil Referral Units on this situation, especially at the Swale Inclusion Unit, and issues at Oasis Isle of Sheppey Academy.  

Isle of Sheppey Academy 2

The grammar school with the highest number of off-rolled pupils is unsurprisingly Invicta Grammar in Maidstone! 

This article looks at the key oversubscription and vacancy situation in Medway non-selective schools, following secondary allocations at the beginning of March.
The headline figure for all secondary allocations shows a seriously worsening picture, with a fall of over 5% in the proportion of Medway children being offered their first choice of school, and a near doubling of the number getting none of their choices from 77 to 145 children. According to Cabinet Member Martin Potter in a press release, “This is great news”! See my previous article for initial figures.
 
There were just 14 additional places created above the final intakes for 2016, all at Strood and Thomas Aveling Academies. However, with a hundred extra children accommodated in Medway’s non-selective schools, this produced a doubling of children being offered none of their choices, instead becoming Local Authority Allocated Children (LAAC) at schools with vacancies.

Most popular non-selective school is once again Brompton Academy, disappointing 177 first choices, well up on 2016’s figure of 108.

Brompton Academy

Five of the eleven non-selective schools had vacancies, most at Victory Academy with 30% empty spaces, in spite of having 30 children allocated who were given no school of their choice.

  
After allocation, there were 140* empty spaces in all, a just manageable 5.6% of the total thanks to a net outflow of 60 children. However,  more vacancies will be created through successful grammar school appeals and considerable churning will follow as the more popular schools refill.
 
There is now a sharp polarisation of popularity in Medway, with families clamouring for places in the three most popular schools, the three at the other end accepting 106 LAACs between them.
Wednesday, 05 April 2017 13:57

Individual School Information - S

(updated April 2017)

An explanation of how Progress 8 and Attainment 8 are calculated, and further information on the performance of all Kent schools can be found here.

The PAN is the Published Admission Number and refers to the number of places available in the year group for each school.

For grammar schools, the number of first preferences is for children who are grammar qualified.

2017 oversubscription data for grammar schools here, and for non-selective schools here.

 

Sandwich Technology School.  Heavily oversubscribed. OFSTED July 2015 - Good.  Has worked through departure of previous outstanding head (retired summer 2014). For 2015 admission, the collapse of Castle Community College in Deal saw its popularity rise further with 46 first choices rejected, up again in 2016.  Not sure why this has fallen for 2017.

 INITIAL ALLOCATIONS 
 
PAN 
1st
preferences
1st prefs
not offered
2014 255 216 8
2015 255 272 46
2016 255 284 77
2017 265 238 18

 APPEALS FOR SCHOOL PLACES
  Appeals Heard Upheld
2014 0 0
2015 2 2
2016 20 6
 
PERFORMANCE DATA
 
Progress 8
Attainment 8
% 5A*-C (inc
Eng and Maths)
2014 n/a n/a  42
2015 n/a n/a 44
2016 -0.39 43.4 n/a

Just above government floor standard in 2014 and  2015. 2016 Progress 8 disappointing. 

=============================================================

Simon Langton Girls Grammar School, Canterbury.  Added an additional 10 places up to 165 for 2014 entry but still a few grammar qualified first choices rejected.  OFSTED July 14 - Good, down from Outstanding.  School has encountered serious controversy over recent months. Head teacher resigned, facing disciplinary action in March 2017, my most recent article here. Executive Headteacher of Simon Langton Boys appointed interim Executive Head of SLGSG until summer 2018. 

 INITIAL ALLOCATIONS 
 
PAN 
1st
preferences
1st prefs
not offered
Vacancies
2014 165 164 7 0
2015 165 137 0 26
2016 170 152 0 7
2017 170 121 0 39

 Effect on popularity of controversy clear in 2017 allocations, lowest yet. 

 APPEALS FOR SCHOOL PLACES
  Appeals Heard Upheld
2014 28 13
2015 26 22
2016 32 21
 
PERFORMANCE DATA
 
Progress 8
Attainment 8
% 5A*-C (inc
Eng and Maths)
2014 n/a n/a  98
2015 n/a n/a 95
2016 0.28 67.0 n/a

7 vacancies for admission on allocation for September 2016, but PAN increased by 5 to 170.  22 of 26 appeals upheld for 2015 (at 85% highest for a grammar school in Kent), 21 out of 32 for 2016 (at 67% third highest).  This proportion has been high for years which may contribute to the low proportion of girls staying into the Sixth Form from Year 11 at 92% for 2016, the other factor being the extreme popularity of Simon Langton Boys at this stage.  

=================================================================

Simon Langton Grammar School for Boys, Canterbury. Intake of 120 but will take in up to 8 boys on appeal. The school gives priority to boys with 20 or more marks over the Kent pass mark, living within 9 miles of the school. OFSTED November 2013 - Outstanding (up one). Has been oversubscribed over the past few years.  Popularity rose for 2014 entry, partly because of uncertainty around now aborted Barton Court Grammar move to Herne Bay, 45 first choices rejected. Typically 134 additional boys and girls joined the Sixth Form from other schools for September 2016, second highest influx in the county. Progress and Attainment strong for 2016, with Outstanding reputation and performance in Sixth Form.

 INITIAL ALLOCATIONS 
 
PAN 
1st
preferences
1st prefs
not offered
2014 120 158 45
2015 120 133 17
2016 120 140 24
2017 120 165 51

Sharp rise in popularity for 2017. All those boys who were offered places, apart from the exceptions such as siblings, were high scorers according to the criteria and living within 6.35 miles of the school, so many disappointed families including all those boys who did not reach and aggregate of 340. 

 APPEALS FOR SCHOOL PLACES
  Appeals Heard Upheld
2014 30 8
2015 21 5
2016 30 8
 
PERFORMANCE DATA
 
Progress 8
Attainment 8
% 5A*-C (inc
Eng and Maths)
2014 n/a n/a  93
2015 n/a n/a 98
2016 0.41 68.0 n/a

Has own Independent Appeal Panel, uniquely in Kent of five members in recent years. Consistently takes no more than 8 students on appeal, bringing numbers up to 128 (four classes of 32). Typically for 2016 admission, all 8 successful appeals were from the 22 appellants who had passed, but lost out on distance grounds. Only exceptional appellants at this stage, who are appealing on non-selection grounds appear to stand a chance, although the school continues to encourage many to go through the process. 

==============================================================

Sir Roger Manwood's School, Sandwich. Kent's only boarding grammar school from the age of 11 for just six new boarders each year, out of an intake of 120/150. Usually oversubscribed, but has large classes after successful appeals.  OFSTED April 2012 - Outstanding.  Took in an additional form of entry, May 2015, and again for 2016 which left it with four vacancies before appeals will have filled the school.  GCSE performance for 2015 still low for a grammar school at 93%. 

 INITIAL ALLOCATIONS 
 
PAN 
1st
preferences
1st prefs
not offered
Vacant
places
2014 120 142 29 1
2015 150 139 0 4
2016 150 175 32 0
2017 150 138 0 6
 
 APPEALS FOR SCHOOL PLACES
  Appeals Heard Upheld
2014 27 18
2015 34 19
2016 40 10

PERFORMANCE DATA
 
Progress 8
Attainment 8
% 5A*-C (inc
Eng and Maths)
2014 n/a n/a  92
2015 n/a n/a 93
2016 0.09 65.9 n/a

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Sittingbourne Community CollegeOFSTED December 2013 - Good.  Part of the Swale Academies Trust, with Westlands, a highly successful Academy in the same town.  

 INITIAL ALLOCATIONS 
 
PAN 
1st
preferences
1st places
not offered
2014 210 96 1
2015 230 134 17
2016 240 155 17
2017 270 178 2

2014 - 2017 no vacant places on allocation.

2014 - 2016 no appeals for school admission

PERFORMANCE DATA
 
Progress 8
Attainment 8
% 5A*-C (inc
Eng and Maths)
2014 n/a n/a  22
2015 n/a n/a 40
2016 -0.23 41.0 n/a

GCSE attainment recovered over past two years.

 ==================================================================

Skinners' School, Tunbridge Wells. Super selective, One of most popular grammar schools in county  selecting on high scores alone so, because of its location near the county border takes a high proportion of ooc boys. 45 boys from ooc in 2016, mostly from East Sussex and Bromley. Became an academy February 2014, sponsored by the Skinners' Company and added an additional 30 places, decision public only at allocation in March for September 2014.  Initial cut off for entry September 2015, Kent Test requirement of an aggregate score of 364 after new Kent Test was introduced.  This fell to 359 just before appeals. For 2016 the required score was again 364, rising to 371 for 2017. OFSTED June 2007 - Outstanding

 INITIAL ALLOCATIONS 
 
PAN 
1st
preferences
1st prefs
not offered
2014 145 219 94
2015 150 228 95
2016 150 232 113
2017 155 268 143

Fourth most oversubscribed grammar school in Kent 2016 and in 2017.  

 APPEALS FOR SCHOOL PLACES
  Appeals Heard Upheld
2014 37 5
2015 29 5
2016 51 7

 2016 appeal figure exceptional as the number of successes is normally 5. 

PERFORMANCE DATA
 
Progress 8
Attainment 8
% 5A*-C (inc
Eng and Maths)
2014 n/a n/a  100
2015 n/a n/a 99
2016 0.66 71.7 n/a

 Very high performing at GCSE Progress and Attainment, and at A Level

================================================================

Skinners' Kent Academy, Tunbridge Wells. This new Academy opened in September 2009, subsequently moving to new premises, replaced the perpetually failing Tunbridge Wells High School. Popularity soared under the new leadership and the school remains very popular. It is sponsored by The Skinners' Company.  OFSTED June 2016 was Outstanding

 INITIAL ALLOCATIONS 
 
PAN 
1st
preferences
1st places
not offered
2014 180 199 49
2015 180 218 72
2016 210 186 9
2017 180 214 74

Increase in oversubscription for 2017 partly due to reduction in PAN. 

 APPEALS FOR SCHOOL PLACES
  Appeals Heard Upheld
2014 9 9
2015 31 8
2016 0 0
 
PERFORMANCE DATA
 
Progress 8
Attainment 8
% 5A*-C (inc
Eng and Maths)
2014 n/a n/a  48
2015 n/a n/a 56
2016 0.35 45.8 n/a

 Sound GCSE performance. 

=======================================================================

Spires Academy, Sturry near Canterbury. The new Spires Academy replaced the peristently failed Frank Montgomery School in Sturry and opened in September 2009. Its admission number was 120, smaller than most recommendations for secondary school sizes. There is further information here. The school is sponsored by Crown Imperial and Holiday Extras, two Kent businesses, and Kent County Council.  The school moved into new purpose-built premises for September 2012, costing £13.2 million. Numbers picked up in 2013 entry, due to allocations from other schools, swelled by 92 students from the closing Chaucer Technology School, but still 30% vacancies before these imports.  Just about filled on allocation in March 2014, and was two first preferences oversubscribed for 2015.  GCSE performance at the school has plummeted from a respectable 49% for 5 A*-Cs in 2012, to 17%, the second lowest outcome in the county in 2015, excluding the two closed or closing schools.  Served with Government Pre-Warning Notice over standards in October 2015. Was run by Executive HT from Simon Langton Girls, but Government concerns over poor standards under her leadership. She has now resigned. Unclear what will happen next, but I anticipate it will be taken over by an Academy chain.  

 INITIAL ALLOCATIONS 
 
PAN 
1st
preferences
1st places
not offered
Vacant
places
2014 120 86 0 2
2015 120 90 2 0
2016 150 97 0 0
2017 150 69 0 6

2014 - 2017 no appeals for school admission. Of the four non-selective schools in Canterbury, it was the only one not to be oversubscribed with first choices for 2016 entry. It was the only one to have spaces before KCC filled it with 21 children who did not apply for the school. It attracted just 97 first choices, 65% of the total, lower than any of the other three schools. For 2017 entry, as well as the six vacancies, there were 39 LACs. Parents are clearly voting with their feet. 

PERFORMANCE DATA
 
Progress 8
Attainment 8
% 5A*-C (inc
Eng and Maths)
2014 n/a n/a  35
2015 n/a n/a 17
2016 -0.28 40.1 n/a

The 40.1 Attainment 8 represents a far higher standard than previous GCSE results would suggest. 

======================================================================

Swadelands School, Lenham.  The school has now been renamed as The Lenham School.  

============================================================================

Swanley College of Technology.  See Orchard Academy

=============================================================================

This article looks at the final outcomes of the Medway Test and its effect on individual grammar school allocations in March.

Last year I wrote an article exposing the failure by Medway Council to set the Medway Test pass mark correctly in 2015, and for some years previously, revealing the fact that some 70 Medway children were deprived of grammar school places by a miscalculation. This produced a success rate after Reviews were taken into account of just 23% for Medway children. Perhaps it was article that produced a change in practice and this year the success rate has risen to 25.1%, almost exactly the target level. However, just 25 Medway pupils were found selective after Review, as against a target of 68. There is yet again serious bias towards girls and older children.

The increase in the success rate has produced an extra 125 pupils eligible for grammar school (an increase in pupil numbers contributing to this) placing enormous pressure on the capacity of all Medway grammar schools, so that there are just 6 vacancies in just one school, in spite of an extra 70 grammar places being added.  

The headline figure for all secondary allocations, including non-selective schools, shows a seriously worsening picture, with a fall of over 5% in the proportion of Medway children being offered their first choice of school, and a near doubling of the number getting none of their choices from 77 to 145 children. According to Cabinet Member Martin Potter in a press release, “This is great news”! See my previous article for initial figures.

Most oversubscribed school is Rochester Grammar, turning away 87 grammar qualified first preferences even after expanding its intake by 25 girls. The pressure for grammar school places from children living in London Boroughs, with 64 being offered, continues as explained below. I also look more closely at individual grammar schools and the Medway Test analysis.

 This article looks across Kent to the main oversubscription and vacancy situations in non-selective schools District by District. Thanet is the area under most pressure, with not a single vacancy in any of its six schools on allocation of places on 1st March. 166 Thanet children have no school of their choice, over a quarter of the county total. The District also contains two of the county’s three most oversubscribed schools, St George’s CofE Foundation and King Ethelbert’s Schools. The other is Valley Park, Maidstone.

    St Georges Foundation   Valley 2

Five other Districts have just one non-selective schools with vacancies: Dartford; Sevenoaks; Shepway (two spaces); Swale; and Tunbridge Wells. It is not surprising that Roger Gough, KCC Cabinet Member for Education described this as a 'challenging year' for secondary school allocation.

At the other end of the scale, Dover District has a quarter of its Year 7 desks vacant and six schools in the county have over a third of their places unfilled. 

I look at individual schools below, mixed in with various news items and a look at cross border movement both in and out of Kent. 

 This article looks across Kent to the key oversubscription and vacancy situations in grammar schools. The main pressure point is in North West Kent with applications from SE London and north of the Thames growing annually and strongly. Dartford Grammar leads the way the number of grammar school qualified first choice applications oversubscribed soaring to 257 (226 in 2016). It is followed by Dartford Girls with 188, again up sharply from 119 in 2016. These two are now the most oversubscribed schools of all types in Kent and Medway. 

dgs            dggs 2

Then come the three West Kent super selectives: Tonbridge 151 (142 in 2016); Skinners 143 (119); and Judd 102 (97). This is followed by a large gap down to Wilmington Girls at 58 first choices turned away. At the other end of the scale, eight grammar schools in Maidstone and the East of the county had 240 vacancies amongst them. Kent has seen an additional 192 places (net) put into its grammar schools this year, to meet rising rolls in several areas.

I look more closely at individual schools below, and you will find my preliminary article on allocations published at the beginning of March here, including cut-offs for super-selective grammars, and for 2016 here. You will find a similar article on non-selective schools here, with Medway schools to follow.


report in the Daily Telegraph on Saturday was headed 'MoD accused of covering up abuse claims at top Army School'. It reports that “Kent Police has launched a review into the force's alleged failure to investigate dozens of criminal allegations at The Duke of York's Royal Military School near Dover, and at least one detective inspector has been disciplined. The force has set up a dedicated team to review claims about the school". There was a follow-up story on Monday

Duke of Yorks 1

The school website notes

School statement regarding recent inaccurate reporting
Following inaccurate and misleading reports in the Telegraph, the School wishes to make it absolutely clear that it is not under investigation by the police. In addition, the School is taking action against the Telegraph’s deeply flawed articles

The school's statement that it is NOT under investigation by the police is incorrect; the existence of an ongoing investigation being publicly confirmed by the suspension of several Police Officers. See also communication sent out to past students of the school,sent out by the school Alumni & Development Manager.

The school appears to be facing a crisis of numbers, with just 12 places offered at secondary transfer in March, compared with 36 at this stage in 2016, and 38 in 2015. Whilst numbers do rise through the year as explained below, it would appear that the school is suffering badly from its reputation and one must now question the viability of  this school in its new £25 million premises.   

FURTHER UPDATE: Kent County Council has appointed a replacement headteacher at the troubled Simon Langton Girls’ Grammar School in Canterbury, after the resignation of Mrs Jane Robinson. He is Dr Matthew Baxter, current Headteacher of Simon Langton Boys, who is to become Interim Executive Headteacher until August 2018. He has sent a letter to parents, which you will find here, setting out his initial approach to the task. This appears a very welcome development, and should provide space to resolve any outstanding issues and prepare for the future.

UPDATE: The comments at the foot of this article give a wide range of perspectives about the issues. 

Jane Robinson, headteacher of Simon Langton Girls’ Grammar School, has resigned following an intensive four month Investigation into her actions by a former Interim Director of Education for the County, Professor Ian Craig, which reported three weeks ago. A KCC Press statement states that ‘Following his review of the findings the Chair of Governors considers that a number of actions should be put in place.’ These actions will no doubt have been instrumental in her decision to go, effective from 30th April. 

Simon Langton Girls

You will find a copy of Chairman's letter notifying parents here, completely devoid of any thanks for Mrs Robinson's services, a failure echoed by the Press Statement, which speaks volumes. I understand that if she had not resigned, she would be facing disciplinary action. It is not at present clear if there has been any financial settlement, but it is likely according to precedent. Mrs Robinson has been absent from the school for about two weeks, leading to speculation that she has been suspended and it is unclear, although surely unlikely, if she will return to the school before her resignation becomes effective.

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