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Friday, 02 March 2018 12:25

Medway Secondary School Allocations for September 2018: Initial Information and Advice

Table for allocations below has been completed, with more recent information provided.

You will find a parallel Kent article here

The Medway Council Press Release for secondary transfer is the thinnest yet I have seen from the Council on this, or any other subject I can recall. It contains just four facts: 3259 Medway children applied for and were offered places in secondary schools; 91% have been offered a first or second preference school; over 95.5%  were offered one of their preferences; there were 630 applications for Medway school places from children outside Medway. That is it! UPDATE: I have now obtained the full data through an FOI request and inserted it below. I can see no reason why the Council has chosen to hide it.  

However, there is also a bizarre footnote on a completely different matter, considered below. 

The table below compares my extrapolation of these numbers with outcomes in previous years. There is also initial advice on what to do if you have not received the school of your choice at the foot of the article on what to do if you have not been offered the school of your choice. This begins as always with my Corporal Jones mantra, do NOTHING in panic! You may regret it. There is no quick fix. 

Both of the quoted percentages in the Press Release were identical to those in 2017, both a significant fall on 2016, at 93.7% and 97.4% respectively.For 2017 offers, first and second preferences allocated were separated, so one can guess the proportion of first preferences has fallen this year as Medway Council typically tries to fudge its figures. No mention of, or regret about, the unfortunate 147 children with no school of their choice. 

The cohort size has increased by just 85 children, with the 4.5% who have been given no school of their choice, at approximately 147, five up on 2017.

Why is the Council so afraid of providing information to its residents?

I will be providing more detailed information later this month on oversubscription and vacancies on receipt of FOI responses from the Council, similar to those from last year. For non-selective schools in 2017 here, and grammar schools (along with further detail on the Medway Test) hereAs with Kent, the proportion of unsuccessful first choices is inflated when compared with other Authorities. This is because it includes a considerable number of families who have put a grammar school first, although their child has not qualified through the Kent Test.

The gaps in the following table are for data not released. In most previous years, the press release has quoted rounded up figures, or 'useful' approximations. 2017 may also require further refinement. 
 
Medway Secondary School Allocations March 2018
Medway Pupils 2018**

2017**

2016** 2015
  Number % Number % Number % Number  %
Offered a first preference

2580

79.4% 2505 78.9% 2536 84.3% 2499 80.7%
Offered a second preference 381 11.7% 371 11.7% 283 9.4%    
Offered a third preference
91  2.8%  115 3.6% 71 2.3%%    
Offered a place at one of their six choices 3117 95.6% 3029 95.4% 2931 97.4% 2940 95%
Allocated a place by Medway Council 142 4.4% 145 4.6% 77 2.6% 155 5.0%
Total number of Medway
children offered places
3259   3174   3008   3095  
 ** Calculated from a subsequent Freedom of Information Request. 
 
The Rochester Grammar School
Now Medway's only super-selective school, with Rainham Mark Grammar switching to give priority to local children. Cut off score in the Medway Test is 520, down by 26 marks, but with the Medway Test pass mark down by 24 marks, it will be very similar level of difficulty. 
 
 
Out of County Applications
The number of out of county applicants is currently just five more than the 325 of 2017, although there is no indication of how many were offered places, surely a critical figure. In 2017, 243 ooc children offered places last year, mainly at grammar schools , a high proportion of the total.
 
Greenacre Mast Head
 
Bizarre Addition to Press Release
In a strange last paragraph to the Press Release, the Council records, completely irrelevantly to the matter in hand: Notes to editors: Medway Council has provided over 3,000 additional primary school places over the last five years and is joint first nationally for providing additional places at good or outstanding schools’.

I don’t believe this is quite correct. What this means is that around three forms of entry have been provided in each of those five forms of entry, which will see some 3000 additional places when all these work through from Reception to Year 6, which won’t happen for another six years! With regard to the ‘joint first nationally’, there is no source provided but, with one of the lowest proportion of good and outstanding schools nationally, this won’t be so amazing.

If this is an important message, why is it slipped out in such a strange and off-hand way, and why is there no detail about the methodology? If it is not important, why is it there at all?

What can you do if you don't have a school of your choice?
As noted above, don't panic. 

So what next? If you are not awarded the school of your choice, then certainly go on the waiting list for every school you have applied for and still wish to consider. You have the right to appeal to any and every school for which you have been turned down. My article on 2017 appeals should be taken as guidance only You will also find plenty of free advice in the appeals sections of this website at: Kent Grammar AppealsMedway Grammar Appeals; and Oversubscription Appeals. There is also copious grammar school appeal advice on the 11 plus Exams website, although it is not necessarily Kent specific and in any case often written for out of county candidates who have different expectations and perceptions, so be careful. 

Obviously, you should talk to your primary school who should be able to offer advice and, if you are not sure of the school to which you have been allocated, ask for another visit, which is likely to be as an individual rather than with the crowd who were there on Open Day. 

 You also have the option of making a late application for a fresh school. Unfortunately, Medway operates a very centralised convoluted process in contrast to Kent's simple system (details here, Page 18). As a result, parents and I often find it difficult to pin down a shifting procedure especially with late grammar school applications, the Admission Booklet being of limited assistance. The phrase ‘at the discretion of the Student Services Management Team’ is used too often in discussion.However, every year we see a considerable ‘churning’ effect as children take up places off the waiting lists, as children win appeals at higher preferences, and some unhappy families remove themselves from the state system, so don't lose hope! 

I regret I have retired from my Personal Appeals Service, being the only Kent and Medway appeals specialist I am afraid. I still offer a Telephone Advisory Service which provides an initial hard-nosed information and advisory assessment and advice. 

Last modified on Tuesday, 20 March 2018 19:55

1 comment

  • Comment Link Sunday, 11 March 2018 22:59 posted by Vicky C

    Peter, do you know how popular Chatham Grammar School for Girls is this year? We have been offered a place but I know it has been undersubscribed in the past. I’m also conscious that it has had an OFSTED inspection in January but the outcome hasn’t been published. I want to make sure we accept a good school. PETER: The school has had a roller coaster ride in the last few years. From the October 2017 census: Year 9 girls 85; Year 8 girls 114; Year 7 girls an astonishing 183!!!! However, I understand that it is currently undersubscribed again, although the London effect could see numbers pick up through late applicants. I will have full figures for Medway school offers for September 2018 by the end of the month.

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