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Monday, 29 February 2016 17:22

Kent and Medway Secondary School Allocations 2016: Initial statistics and advice

Update News: You can now find many more details at Kent Grammar School Allocations and Kent Non-Selective School Allocations. Medway school details to arrive shortly.  

The good news in Kent is that the number of first choices in Kent secondary schools, awarded to local children, has risen to 13,159, that is 81.4% of the total applications, up from 80.5% in 2015; and the number of children with none of their four choices has fallen  sharply to 428, a proportion of 2.7% of the total, from 4.0% in 2015. All of this with the number of Kent children making applications rising by 176 to 16,172. This has been achieved by KCC and schools working together to create 704 places additional to those planned for this September, 244  extra places in grammar schools and 460 in non-selective schools. There are full details of these additional places below, which give a good guide to the pressures in various areas.  

In Medway, the picture is even better, this time helped by a fall in the number of Medway children being placed in Medway schools by nearly 90 (or have more gone into Kent?). Partly as a result of this fall, the proportion of first choices offered has shot up to 84.3% from 80.7%, the proportion offered none of their six choices almost halving to 2.6%, or 77 children, from 5.0% last year, that having been the highest for many years.   
 
As well as more information, and the tables of outcomes below, you will find initial advice on what to do if you have not been offered the school of your choice, beginning as always with my Corporal Jones mantra, do NOTHING in panic! There is no quick fix. 
 
Below you can also find: further data; super selective cut offs; detail on pressures on some individual schools and change of admission criteria;detail of the 704 additional places added in Kent schools. 
 
All this is against a backdrop of national figures showing a worsening picture with a steady fall across the country of numbers being awarded first preference, and a rise in the number with no school of their choice to go to. 
 
Whilst 2015 saw the Kent figures hit their worst level for four years, even these were actually much better than for many  years preceding 2012 as popular schools have been freed up to offer more places. None of this is a comfort to the 428 children who have none of their choices, although many of these situations will be resolved in the churning that follows over the next few months. This includes around 800 appeals expected to be successful,  creating places elsewhere that are often snapped up through re-allocation. For example, last year another 200 children offered places at oversubscribed Kent schools they had appealed to, even before the appeals took place.  
 
Much will be made of the steady year on year rise in out county children being offered places in Kent schools to 803 this year, but it needs to be borne in mind both that a considerable number of the 447 London children who were offered Kent places last year eventually settled for places nearer home, and also that 552 Kent children were offered places going the other way out of county. The headlines inevitably focus on pressure on grammar schools, but for example, last year, 96 of the 122 Medway children taking up places in Kent schools went to non-selective schools, including 41 to Holmesdale in Snodland. Medway has not yet released the number of ooc children offered places in its schools, merely noting the 518 applicants.  
 
You will find last year's slightly more downbeat article here 
 
 
 Kent Secondary School Allocations: March 2016
Kent pupils 2016 2015 2014 2013
 
No. of
Pupils
%
No. of
 Pupils
%
No.of
Pupils
%
No.of
Pupils
%
Offered a first preference 13,159 81.4% 12,796  80.5% 13,092 83.6 12,754 84.2%
Offered a second preference 1,840 11.4%  1,612  10.1% 1,512 9.6% 1,456 9.6%
Offered a third preference 549 3.4%  478  3.1% 478 3.1% 448 3.0%
Offered a fourth preference 196 1.2%  181  1.1% 181 1.2% 129 0.9%
Allocated by Local Authority 428 2.7%  641  4.0% 404 2.6% 357 2.3%
Total number of Kent pupils offered 16172    15894   15,667   15144  
Out of County Applicants to Kent Secondary Schools 2016
Year 2016 2015 2014 2013
Out of county applicants 2,624 2,299 1,991 1,760
Offers to out of county pupils at Kent schools 803 757 602 589

   

Size of Kent Year 6 Cohort
Year 2015 2014 2013
Total number of pupils in the cohort 18,193 17,658 16,904

 

  
Medway Secondary School Allocations March 2016
Medway Pupils 2016* 2015 2014 2013
  Number % Number  % Number % Number %
Offered a first preference 2536 84.3% 2499 80.7% 2423 81.2% 2425 86.0%
Offered a second preference 283 9.4%            
Offered a place at one of their top
three choices
2890 96.1%     2813 94.3% 2678 95.0%
Offered a place at one of their six choices 2931 97.4% 2940 95% 2865 96.0% 2730 96.8%
Allocated a place by Medway Council 77 2.6% 155 5.0% 120 4.0% 90 3.2%
Total number of Medway
children offered places
3008   3095   2984   2820  
 
Super Selective Schools
 
Dartford Grammar School: The cut off for the 90 'out or area' boys is 375. There is a limit on the number of 'local' boys to 90 boys being accepted, which was reached this year. As a result, the local boys were chosen on score ranking with a cut off at 351, so that for the first time a number of grammar qualified boys living near to the school will not have been offered places.
 
Dartford Grammar Girls: There was also a cut off for inner area girls living in named parishes for the first time as the 100 girls offered places were required to score 333. The cut off for the remaining out of area girls, after children in care and siblings were offered, was 363, so that for the first time a number of grammar qualified girls living near to the school will not have been offered places.
 
The cut off for The Judd School is 362 for the Inner Area and 391 for the Outer. Not all boys on those scores were offered places, losing out on distance grounds. At this stage last year it was 371 for all candidates, and the fall in scores for Inner (nearly all Kent, local to Judd), is entirely predictable as the 135 boys are drawn from a much smaller pool than last year. With just 20 places for Outer which, I suspect are mainly out of Kent, it is again unsurprising that the cut-off has risen so high. I would be very surprised if the local figure falls as far as the Judd score has dropped in previous years (10 in 2015), as the cohort comprises local boys who are unlikely to peel away to other options as regularly happens to a number of those from out-county. 
 
The cut-off for Skinners' School is 364.  
 
Rainham Mark Grammar School: The Medway Test pass mark is 521. For Rainham Mark, the cut off is 528.
 
Rochester Grammar School: the cut-off is 539, with the Medway Test pass mark set at 521
For Tonbridge Grammar School, the cut off for the 133 girls in the Inner area has risen to 366 (up from 356 in the first round last year – eventually settling at 350 from waiting list) – there was a distance tie breaker so some are waiting on 366 over 8.3601 miles from the school. For the 40 'Outer' Governor places the cut off is 381 (up from 375 in the first round last year – eventually settling at 369 from waiting list) with no distance tie breaker needed. I understand that the number of grammar qualified first choices has surged, which will have played a major part in driving up the cut off levels. 
 
Details of other schools will be provided as I receive them confirmed. 
 
 
Kent Allocations
With the increasing demand for school places, Kent will have to increase its capacity with another 1500 children expected to be looking for secondary places within three years, not counting inward migration. For 2016 entry, an additional 704 additional places have been created, as detailed below, but one wonders how much longer can this approach continue.  I am personally conscious of the increasing number of enquiries I am receiving from London families, especially drawn to Kent's grammar schools. At least three new schools are planned, the first to come on stream being the Maidstone School of Science and Technology to open in September 2017, a new six form entry non-selective school adjacent to Valley Park and Invicta Grammar (pity the poor residents of the area as they cope with the traffic!). Whilst this is planned to meet major expansion of Maidstone, it illustrates one of the collateral problems of setting up attractive new schools, as the less popular New Line Learning Academy, with  nearly half its Year 7 places vacant this year, will be very much at risk until demand catches up. 
 
The whole picture is much more fluid than a few years ago, with more school closures of unpopular schools - Oasis Hextable Academy, Marlowe Academy, and Pent Valley - and popular schools having much more flexibility to add on additional places, but the improvement is due to new flexibilities available to schools to expand if the demand is there. I am currently waiting details from KCC of individual school allocations and pressures, which I will publish here as soon as I receive them, within the next two weeks. You  will find the equivalent 2015 data here, but I am already  hearing informally of considerable swings in popularity in a few schools. 

We are seeing a quiet revolution in the provision of places at popular schools, as many use formal and informal ways to increase their capacity. Last year, a total of over 200 additional places were added to grammar schools to meet increased demand as part of a formal expansion procedure, including 30 at: Borden; Dartford Grammar; Sir Roger Manwood's and Wilmington Girls. This was before successful appeals which took others well over their Planned Admission Number, by far the biggest increase being at Invicta Grammar School which, having seen an additional 63 places offered on appeal, ended up with 241 girls in Year 7, 49 over the Planned Admission Number (PAN), followed by Mayfield Grammar with 26 more girls than the PAN. Weald of Kent Grammar School made clear that, in its build up to the new Sevenoaks Annex to be opened in September 2017, it would be happy to take up to 60 children over its PAN this year, if the demand was there.  

One school to watch this year is The Judd, which has made a major shift in its oversubscription criteria for 2016 entry to provide more places for Kent boys. Up until 2015, the school offered boys, no matter where they live, places through high scores in the Kent Test, offering a total of 41 out of its 155 to out of county boys last year. This year, it has given priority to boys from an inner area which is almost exclusively in Kent, still on high scores,  but providing a maximum of 20 places to out county boys out of the total of 155 to be offered places. You will find further details here. Wilmington Boys and Girls Grammars made similar moves last year, although still admitting a high proportion of oocs, but Dartford Grammar and Dartford Girls' Grammar made moves in the opposite direction, increasing their proportion of out county children. It is not surprising that the media get it wrong so often reporting on this complex story!

It is in the non-selective sector that supply and demand are most at odds, with ten Kent schools currently having more than a third of their places empty in Year 7, nearly all struggling with their image and having featured on this website over the past year, through poor OFSTEDs or academic performance. At the other end of the scale, many oversubscribed non-selective schools grew further by simply offering places in 2015, or else via successful appeals, with Bennett Memorial, Canterbury Academy, Knole Academy and Valley Park all taking in more than 20 children over capacity, but with just 5 successful appeals between them, and many others performing similar legerdemain at the expense of their less popular neighbours.  

 Expansion of Kent's secondary schools
I have today received details of the extra 704 places created in Kent's secondary schools in order to meet demand in areas, and to cater for parental choice as they try to avoid some less popular schools. 174 of these were also put on as temporary expansions last year, 106 in grammar schools and 68 in non-selectives. Many of the 406 additional non-selective places will not be needed after grammar school appeals remove some of them, making forecasting actual demand and planning especially difficult. 
 
Where numbers are small, the extras are likely to fade away in 'the churn' and so will cause no re-organisation needs, but headteachers will currently be engaged in complex calculations to try and estimate future numbers, with severe financial consequences if they calculate incorrectly. I will be publishing oversubscription and vacancy figures in about a fortnight, 
 
Places created where there is additional pressure on non-selective schools include: 
Canterbury - All three schools, Canterbury Academy, St Anselm's Catholic and Spires Academy, are full and have expanded by an extra 70 places between them, reflecting the pressure caused by the closure of Chaucer Technology two years ago, Canterbury Academy's 30 extras having been used also in 2015.  In previous years children have been shuffled to the Community College Whitstable, but this is suffering and so, Spires which has never filled before as far as I can remember, is now having to expand. KCC planned to see a new school open on the Chaucer site in a couple of years, but because of Whitstable it appears the pressure is now. 
 
Dartford - Following the sudden closure of Oasis Hextable Academy last summer, nearly 100 Dartford children were left with no place, and KCC decided it was logistically better to place them in Bexley secondary schools with vacancies rather than the unpopular Ebbsfleet Academy. With more time to plan out alternatives this year, parents appear to have opted for Ebbsfleet, although Wilmington Academy, a very popular school itself, has expanded by 40 places, and Ebbsfleet has as a result expanded by 18 places (which will probably melt away in the churn).
Gravesham - three schools, Northfleet Technology College, Meopham School and Northfleet School for Girls have increased size by a total of 71 places. The last two had vacancies, although the remaining three town schools are all traditionally oversubscribed, suggesting intense pressure. In the past, some of this has been relieved by shuffling children across to Ebbsfleet Academy, but the latter is full itself and expanding by 30 places, so there was no room there this time round. 
 
Maidstone - probably the most polarised town in Kent with heavily oversubscribed schools and others, notably New Line Learning, with plenty of vacancies. Valley Park, one of the most popular schools in Kent, which appears to expand year on year is picking up another 30 places this year, taking its Planned Admission number to 270, with St Simon Stock Catholic, one of the most academically successful non-selectives increasing by 15 places. This is a case where I doubt there is any overall shortage in the town, and Valley Park in particular has offered to soak up more children keen to attend. In 2017, the new six form entry Maidstone Science and Technology College opens next door to Valley Park and it will be interesting to say the least to see its impact on other local schools. 
Shepway - The closure of Pent Valley in the coming summer has caused additional pressure on the already regularly oversubscribed Brockhill Park Performing Arts College and Folkestone Academy. To cope with the fall-out, they have agreed to take an additional 47 children between them, along with an unspecified number of older students who are no longer able to attend Pent Valley. Will this be enough to meet KCC's commitment to find appropriate places for them all?
 
Swale - the two Sittingbourne schools, Westlands and Fulston Manor Academies have long been amongst the most oversubscribed schools in Swale and Sittingbourne is recognised as a town that needs extra capacity. The problem is the troubled Oasis Isle of Sheppey Academy that has difficulty in looking attractive to island families who put extra pressure on the Sittingbourne schools, whilst leaving plenty of spaces free at their local school. With Sittingbourne Community College expanding by 30 places, it suggests the problem is near breaking point. 
 
Thanet - The closure of Marlowe Academy last summer may have been expected to produce pressure, but only 18 extra places have been created in Thanet, at King Ethelbert School and Ursuline College.  
 
Tunbridge Wells - 46 extra places at Bennett Memorial; 30 at Skinners Kent Academy and St Gregory's Catholic. A total of 100 extra places created across all three of the town's non-selective schools suggests a major problem has been created. 
 
 
Expanding Grammar Schools
Biggest expansion by some way of any school is Weald of Kent Grammar School, which is taking in an additional 55 girls. It has previously indicated that it was planning to admit an additional two forms of entry, so this is no surprise as it winds up its infrastructure to prepare for the new Sevenoaks Annexe in September 2017. I suspect, a considerable proportion of the new arrivals will be girls form across the border into East Sussex and Bromley, although the school is still oversubscribed with some ooc girls being turned away.
 
Wilmington Grammar School for Girls is admitting an additional 30 girls (as last year), and with its new priority for Kent girls, I suspect a high proportion of the extras will be from the London Boroughs, who would have been admitted through normal procedures in previous years. Norton Knatchbull has increased its PAN on a temporary basis by 31 for several years, filling most of the spaces created on appeal. Dover Grammar Boys increase of 30 is somewhat of a surprise, but as it takes the majority of its students from the Dover Test, this may well have created more candidates than usual. Barton Court and Tonbridge Grammars' have kept their temporary increases from last year, of 23 and 22 students respectively. Dartford Grammar Girls has increased by 20 places, Invicta by 18, and remarkably Oakwood Park which had nearly 50 vacancies at this stage last year, is oversubscribed and has increased by 10 places. 
Medway Allocations
Little to say really, given the good news for most parents. My previous article on the Medway Test outcomes, showed that 60 children have been deprived of grammar school places because of failings in the Medway Test and Review process, accompanied by the bias towards girls succeeding. There is certainly plenty of capacity with three girls grammar schools to two for boys (to be reduced to one next year), all go to assist the high proportion of first choices being awarded, with currently 67 vacancies in Year seven of the three grammar schools, Chatham Boys and Girls, and Fort Pitt. The decision to turn Chatham Boys co-educational (final article to follow shortly) will clearly place the prosperity if not the future of Chatham Girls and Fort Pitt at risk. 
 
I am afraid I don't have the same data on PANs as for Kent schools, but will report on this when I get full data in the next two weeks.
 
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 wish to consider. You have the right to appeal to any and every school for which you have been turned down. My article on 2015 appeals should be taken as guidance only, a classic example of the warning of taking data too much to heart being Oakwood Park Grammar. Last year with 50 spaces on allocation, the Appeal Panel was perhaps generous and 73 out of 107 appeals were successful. For 2016 admission, the school has made around 160 offers for its 150 places, so appeals will be much harder to win there. You will also find plenty of free advice in the appeals sections of this website at: Kent Grammar Appeals; Medway 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, which is important, 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, called an In Year Application from around April 13th in Kent. Medway is far more convoluted and parents and I often find it difficult to pin down a shifting procedure. You can apply for as many schools as you wish through this process.  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!

Warning: I heard a horrific story today from a media source who had accepted it as reality, of a Radio Five Live Interview this morning in which an Education Appeals 'Specialist' was interviewed and said that appeals were expensive and would cost around £1000, so parents saved up to be ready. This is absolute rubbish, with around 95% of Kent and Medway appeals being prepared by parents without professional help and most are perfectly comfortable doing so. There is no advantage whatever in employing a lawyer. Yes I do support some appeals where parents are looking for assistance, almost certainly the overwhelming majority of those that are looking for professional assistance in the county, at around 4% of the total in Kent and Medway for 2015, and using my specialist knowledge and experience of Kent had a success rate of over 90% in 2015, charging far less than the national firms although I anticipate fewer this year.  

 

 

 

Last modified on Wednesday, 01 March 2017 10:28

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