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Friday, 05 April 2013 00:00

Primary School Admission Decisions- more good news - and then there is Bishops Down

Parents of Kent primary aged children looking to enter school in September, or transfer from Infant to Junior schools  have now received a letter informing them of the allocated school. All families who have not been offered their first choice school have also been told how to apply for waiting lists or submit an appeal.

The figures below show the outcome of a major planning operation by KCC following last year's primary school places crisis, producing the best figures for three years.At the time of writing, I am not aware of any local difficulties. 

 The headline is: the highest number and proportion of children being offered their first choice for three years; and the lowest number and proportion being allocated a place by Kent County Council after being offered no school of their choice - a fall of 20% over 2012. These very good figures are in spite of a steady rise in the number of primary aged children coming through the system. However there are still 661 children without a school of their choice. Kent and Medway parents who wish to seek my advice may like to consider using my Telephone Consultation to discuss options, so feel free to send me details of your situation  and I will let you know if I have practical advice to offer. You will see from my Primary Appeals Information page, that sadly, for most schools chances of success at appeal are very unlikely.

 

Offers to Kent Pupils 2013 2012  2011 
  No of pupils % No of pupils % No of pupils %

 Offered a school named on the application form

15,838 95.99% 15,476 94.98% 15,151 95.18%

Offered a first preference

14,264 86.45% 13,879 85.18% 13,682 85.95%
Offered a second preference 1,127 6.83% 1,145 7.03% 1,062 6.67%
Offered a third preference 447 2.71% 452 2.77% 407 2.56%
Allocated by local authority 661 4.01% 818 5.02% 768 4.82%
Total number of offers 16,499 16,249  15919

I shall have Medway information in a few days, along with a much more detailed breakdown of the Kent outcomes. 

KCC has expanded some 15 primary schools permanently, and others on a temporary basis. I will have further infroamtion on this shortly. This would take many up to an intake of 90, in spite of a KCC policy not to allow schools already at an intake of 60 to enlarge, unless in exceptional circumstances. Clearly what happened last year was exceptional and the Authority has acted appropriately, in an attempt to rectify previous failures of planning as it is no longer allowed to open new schools. This follows a government restriction that only allows new schools to be built if they are Academies Free Schools or Voluntary Aided Schools sponsored by other groups. The new Wells Free School in Tunbridge Wells falls into this category  although it is designed as a small school making little impact, and is not featured in the above figures as for its first year. This is because, like other Free Schools, applications are outside the Kent Admissions procedure in their first year of operation only.  

Bishops Down Primary School

One controversy is likely to once again revolve around Bishops Down Primary School in Tunbridge Wells. You will find the background here, but in brief a decision by the Independent Schools Adjudicator last year instructed KCC to keep the school's intake at 60 children. KCC claimed they could not comply as there are planning issues with the site and they wished to revert to an intake of 30. KCC considered taking out a High Court Injunction to challenge the decision but, although confident they would win, did not follow this through. The reason given was that they would apply for the required planning permission and if it were turned down this would be a much quicker decision enabling parents applying for primary school places to take this into account.  Sadly not only did the planning permission not be considered by the closing date for applications, it has still not been reached today, eight months later and the day when school offers are made. As a result just 30 children will be offered places. Another 30 will receive letters offering them provisional places if the planning permission is forthcoming, but actually formally offering them places in other schools. The letter is very positive about the likelihood of places being offered, a complete reversal of KCC's opinion back last August. The letter also states that a decision on planning permission will not be reached until a Committee Meeting in June. I have seen correspondence which suggests the delays in processing this were avoidable. 

Sadly these delays have causes yet more uncertainty in primary school placements in Tunbridge Wells, but although on a smaller scale to last year's problems the unnecessary delays have made this one particularly unfortunate.    

Last modified on Monday, 26 May 2014 07:25

1 comment

  • Comment Link Sunday, 07 April 2013 15:05 posted by Will

    I am one of the 661 - in Tunbridge Wells. Missed out on all 3 of our choices closest to us and the new free school.
    We have been offered Sherwood (Temple Grove Academy), which was the one school we wanted to avoid due to it's distance from us and this being a guinea pig year.

    Our friends 10 and 5 doors down on our street got their first choice(and ours) St James. I can only assume we missed out by one or two places. Is there a way I can find this information out?

    We are feeling very let down and angry, but reading the above it seems there is little we can do other than go on the waiting lists and hope other people drop out.

    Not sure what else can be done. PETER: St James C E (Aided) Infant School is a very popular church school with quite complex admission rules that you can read on the school website. Distance is a factor, but children fall into different categories and the cut off depends on which category offers go down to. The school should be able to tell you (when term begins) which was the lowest category offered, how far away did the last child offered a place live, which category you are placed in and how far away you are. The school has raised its intake from 70 to 90 this year, so there is little chance of a successful appeal because of Infant Class Legislation. I wrote elsewhere on this website of the problems last year and the 20 successful appeals, but the increase in numbers removes that option. If the school has allocated places correctly, you are most unlikely to be offered a place on appeal and your best chance lies through the waiting list. Sorry.

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