None of the five town schools have vacancies, but levels of oversubscription have fallen across the board. Most oversubscribed this year is Lady Boswell’s CofE, turning away 24 fist choices, Riverhead Infants having fallen to 10, down from the heady days of 2014, when it was 69 and Kent’s most popular school that year, presumably as parents are making more logical applications. St John’s CofE is at 11, and St Thomas’ Catholic at 7, with Sevenoaks Primary for the first time in my memory turning away no first choices at all.
Out in the country, which stretches to the north and West of Sevenoaks town, there is still considerable pressure with just 5 of the 23 schools having vacancies, most at Seal (recently doubled in size to an intake of 60, to pick up the overspill from Sevenoaks), half empty for 2016, and Edenbridge, 27 empty places. However, there are just two schools with rejected first choices in double figures, Fawkham – 18, and Chiddingstone – 17.
Surprisingly, a much improved situation in Folkestone from last year, even with Cheriton not having the 30 extra places put in in 2015. The number of children allocated schools they hadn’t applied to has fallen noticeably from 38 to 23, spread across the town. In the same way, the number of first choices rejected fell from 150 to 91. Sandgate is still the most popular school, with 37 first choices rejected, although this is close to half of 2015’s 67, when the school was most popular in Kent. Other popular schools are Stella Maris Catholic (17), St Eanswythe’s CofE (16), and Folkestone Academy (13). Martello Grove Academy is struggling to attract numbers with just 8 of its 30 places filled, the headteacher having been redeployed from a difficult time at Furness Special School by sponsors Lilac Sky. Cheriton, which last year picked up an extra class at the request of KCC, has now returned to its normal 60, and is full with 51 first preferences and nine seconds taking up all the places.
Plenty of places across Hythe, Romney Marsh and the rest of the District, a total of 15%, second highest in the County, most at Brenzett (Special Measures), with 70% of its spaces vacant. The only significantly oversubscribed school is St Augustine’s RC, Hythe, turning away 10 first choices.
Most oversubscribed school in Sittingbourne is Canterbury Road turning away 21 first choices, followed by Grove Park, 14 and Kemsley Primary Academy, 13. Tunstall CofE doubled in size to 60 last year, but is still oversubscribed for 2016 admission, having re-opened in purpose built new premises last month. Just four out of 14 schools with vacancies, nearly all at Lansdowne with 18. Plenty of places on the Isle of Sheppey, with just three of the ten schools full. Queenborough at 18 first choices turned away is the most popular. No serious problems in the villages, although nine of the 16 schools are full.
In Faversham, just five places left in Bysing Wood Primary out of the eight primary schools, which also had four of the five children allocated by KCC. Pressure on places is such that KCC considered expanding the school earlier in the year, but decided against it, possibly because of its lack of popularity. However, Ethelbert Road, OFSTED Outstanding, was the only school heavily oversubscribed turning away 27 disappointed first choices.
One of the easiest areas to gain a school of your choice, providing it is not Crockenhill, 26 first choices oversubscribed. No other school more than 4 oversubscribed, with half having vacancies including Halstead with 12 of its 30 places not taken up in spite of its recent ‘Good’ OFSTED Outcome.