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Friday, 20 July 2018 18:32

Holcombe Grammar Appeals 2018: The final Chapter

I have described in previous articles how twelve boys who appealed for places at Holcombe Grammar School in Medway, and were found to be of grammar school ability by the Appeal Panel,were neither awarded places nor allowed on the waiting list as would have happened in Kent. They have today learned that they can now be placed on the school waiting list, after a month of contradictory and confusing information from Medway Council. 

Unfortunately, this does not get them a place at the school even now, but I anticipate that a few spaces are still likely to arise over the summer holiday, to be awarded to those living nearest, and so likely to be from these twelve.

The information comes in a letter from the school, which throws a new light on the whole situation. This shows that responsibility for the foul up lies squarely with Medway Council which was blocking this decision, even as late as yesterday.

As I have pointed out previously, the Council did not have the right to refuse places on the waiting list, as Holcombe Grammar School is the legal Admission Authority, and so able to make such decisions.  By delegating operation of the waiting list to Medway it temporarily gave up that power. According to the letter, when Holcombe learned only yesterday that Medway was intransigent it decided to take back control of its waiting list and place the boys on it.

I have long maintained that all Medway schools should do the same, with academies able to as a right, and I hope this lesson will be learned by others.

I must confess on what I had seen previously, my assumption was that the sticking point was Holcombe Grammar School, because of the sequence of apparent events outlined in my previous articles, together with the extended silence from the school (awful public relations again).

The good news for at least some of these families is that it is likely most, if not all, of the 28 London boys awarded places on allocation will be looking for appropriate schools nearer their home as a preference and there will inevitably be some movement as a result. I know from enquiries I have received, asking about the school, that some boys who were allocated to the school have never visited Holcombe or even Chatham, or knew anything about it when they applied!

One has to ask why Medway Council have refused to budge, against the school‘s wishes, when it did not even have the legal right to do so. It certainly was not in the interests of local children, as so often in issues about Medway Council, and as described previously on this website.

Too often since its take over by Thinking Schools Academy Trust I have been highly critical of decision making at Holcombe Grammar. However, in this case my criticism is just that they have left the matter so late in the school year, rather than forcing it earlier. As a result places falling vacant before now will also have been taken up by London families, rather than those local boys who are now qualified. 

Last modified on Friday, 20 July 2018 19:01

2 comments

  • Comment Link Saturday, 21 July 2018 09:47 posted by Celia

    Thank you from the bottom of our hearts Peter. We are sure it was only your efforts that got us this second chance. We know our grandson might still not make it, but now feel everything was done that could have been done.

  • Comment Link Friday, 20 July 2018 23:21 posted by Stressed out parent

    Thank you Peter. We live less than a mile from the school, our son has watched Holcombe boys stream along our road since October, wondering if he will ever join them. The stress since the initial appeal decision arrived has been even worse. He still does not know whether he will be going to grammar in September, but the light has not gone out. That light has been shone by you Peter through your articles shaming both Medway Council and Holcombe into a decision that should have been made a month ago. PETER: My pleasure. I only hope it pays off for you and others. Sadly, I doubt if all twelve will benefit.

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