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Displaying items by tag: secondary schools

You will find more detailed information on Kent grammar school allocation here, and for non-selective schools here
 
The initial data for applicants for Kent secondary schools shows that 79.1% of  those from Kent were  offered their first choice. This is the lowest percentage for at least nine years. 837 children been given none of their four choices, at 4.7% of the total, again the highest proportion for at least nine years, up on last year’s 765 and up by 75% over the 2016 proportion of 2.7%. The proportion of children being offered one of their top two preferences at 90.3% is down on 90.7% in 2018, and again lowest for nine years. 

17,959 Kent children applied for places in Kent secondary schools, 517 more than in 2018, with 79.1% of them being offered their first choice. This is the lowest percentage for at least nine years, a further 0.6% down on last year. 837 children been given none of their four choices, at 4.7% of the total, again the highest proportion for at least nine years, up on last year’s 765. I know that a number of additional school places have been created at pinch points across the county, but I anticipate hearing of some very difficult situations for some of the children with no school of their choice.

In spite of the inexorable increase in out of county applications to Kent schools, up 225 to 3,514, exactly the same number, 818, were offered places, as in 2018. As always this  will have been partially balanced by around 500 going to schools outside Kent.

You will find more information, including a look at some of the pressure points as they become apparent, below. These include North West Kent both selective and non-selective, and non-selective Swale, Thanet and Tunbridge Wells.  You will also find required scores for super-selective schools (all information on both situations welcomed) together with the tables of outcomes

There is initial advice 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. 

There is also a link to the limited telephone advisory service I now offer. 

Published in News and Comments

You will find the corresponding Primary article here. Special Schools and PRUs to follow. 

No Kent or Medway secondary schools were found Outstanding in 2017-18. However, the 79% of Kent schools classified as Good by Ofsted compares well with the national figure of 68% Good or Outstanding up to March this year. In Medway 75% of schools were classified as Good.

Three schools were found Inadequate. I have previously reported on the recent history of Holmesdale School in Snodland as it plunged from Good to Special Measures in four years, but the tragic story continues, below. Royal Harbour Academy, like Holmesdale not an academy but one of the few secondary schools still the responsibility of KCC, is weighed down by multiple challenges and was found to Require Significant Improvement in July. The Medway UTC, just three years old was put into Special Measures, the Report and other factors adding up to a disgrace that should shame everyone concerned, although no doubt the governors carry on regardless of the damage they have done to children’s education and prospects.

You will find a profile for each Kent and Medway secondary school, including Ofsted outcomes, by following the links. All Ofsted Reports are available here. Further information on significant Ofsted decisions below....

Published in News and Comments
Tagged under

In 2013 KCC made the decision to close The Chaucer Technology School in Canterbury, as the intake had fallen sharply every year but one since 2009 from 202 to 85, with a forecast intake of 57 for September 2014. During that period, the school had reduced its capacity from 235 to 150, but this would still leave at least 62% of places empty in Year 7.  I now have the school census figures for September 2014 and this shows four secondary schools in a worse situation than Chaucer with regard to empty desks.  What is more alarming is that that in 2013 all these four schools again had the highest vacancy rates, all more severe than Chaucer, whilst  in 2012 the only school that separated them was Walmer Science College which KCC closed at the end of that year because of falling numbers.

 Three of these four schools, Marlowe Academy, Oasis Academy Hextable, and High Weald Academy, are probably safe from direct KCC intervention because of their academy status, but must all have problems of viability, including financial pressures and the ability to offer an appropriate curriculum - for example a proper range of courses at GCSE, as the low numbers work through. All three have previously been placed in Special Measures by OFSTED, but have now earned their way out, although still clearly suffering from their reputation.  The fourth is Pent Valley School, Folkestone which actually possesses a ‘Good’ OFSTED assessment, but whose troubles include expansion by more popular neighbouring schools......

Published in News and Comments

This is a summary of a more comprehensive article that appears elsewhere in this website, prepared for Kent on Sunday 

The face of secondary education in Kent is changing rapidly as government decisions allow popular schools to offer additional places to meet demand. In Kent, with 75% of secondary schools either academies or in the process of change, this freedom is producing dramatic results. 

In 2013, schools created an additional 352 places by temporary or permanent expansion, most high profile being the West Kent grammars, where Judd, Skinners, Tonbridge Grammar and Weald of Kent Grammar each admitted an additional class of entry. Less prominent were Skinners Kent Academy (30 more children) and Bennett Memorial School (16 children). Most of these schools have not declared their intentions for admission next September, so parents are left uncertain of their chances of winning places at their school of choice. Parental choice is of course even greater this year as the Trinity Free School in Sevenoaks joins the Kent admission scheme. I anticipate that within two years this mix will also see the arrival of the proposed satellite grammar school in Sevenoaks.

The three new Free Schools, Trinity, Wye Free School, and Hadlow Rural Community School added a further 240 places, creating a total expansion of nearly 600 new places.

Not surprisingly, this saw KCC able to claim the highest proportion of satisfied families in recent years, with a record high of 84% of children getting their first choice school.

I anticipate that this trend will continue, as even more of the popular schools choose to admit more children, giving them additional finance and clout in the educational world.

Already for 2014 entry, with some of these schools making their enlargements permanent, and others joining them, I count 525 additional places confirmed since 2012, with another 140 probable and others expected to join this great monopoly game......

Published in Newspaper Articles

Updated Sunday 2nd March

I have now received most of the relevant statistics relating to admissions in Medway. Its press release figures for 2013 entry are: nearly 86% being awarded their first choice; more than 7 per cent their second place preference; and over 2 per cent their third preference.  I also collected further information on the infomation relating to individual schools through an FOI , which has enabled me to complete the table below showing comparisons with previous years. I am awaiting another dealing with out of Medway children taking up places in Medway secondary schools. This will enable me to further separate out the data I have. 

Medway Pupils 2013 2012 2011
  Number % % %
Offered a first preference 2425 86.0% 86.7% 87.2%
Offered a place at one of their top three choices 2678 95.0% 97.7% 96.9%
Offered a place at one of their six choices 2730 96.8% 98.6% 98.1%
Allocated a place by Medway Council 90 3.2% 1.4% 1.9%
Total number in Cohort 2820   2949

2905

Published in News Archive

(Article in progress, updated 1 Oct 2012)

Kent County Council has quietly released a Commissioning Plan setting out its proposals for new school places across the county for both primary and secondary schools, on a district by district basis, looking at the consequences for individual schools. The main headline is that over 10,000 new places need to be produced by 2016. You will find the full plan here. The Commissioning Plan identifies proposals for creating 5194 places by 2014, and at present there are no clear plans for the remaining 5000 places - although there is time now to consider options.

A preliminary press release focused on 35 additional classrooms being added in the current school year, catering for the additional  reception classes which were set up to cater for mainly unexpected demand.

I believe this is an essential document; it is just regrettable that when it was proposed in 2009, on the back of warnings about school place shortages, no action was taken, resulting in some of the temporary fixes we have seen in the past two years, described elsewhere in this website. Details follow below.......

The document looks at each District, and names the schools due for expansion and where new primary schools are to be commissioned  in the next four years, I summarise these as follows, although you need to check the plan for the detail......

Published in News Archive
Tuesday, 07 September 2010 19:03

Secondary School Admissions: KOS Sept 2010

Last week, some 9,000 Kent children took the Kent eleven plus, results due on 18th October. Parents then have less than two weeks until 31 October (a week shorter than last year!) to list four secondary schools in preference order on the Secondary Common Application Form (SCAF), so early planning is important. Already some secondary schools have held Open Days, and parents should visit all possible schools and ask about the chances of a successful application.

It is impossible to give specific advice on choosing schools in a short article, as the situation varies enormously from town to town and often year by year. My website at www.kentadvice.co.uk provides more information and I plan to expand this shortly.

If your child passes the Kent test, you can name just grammar schools on your SCAF.  If you don’t qualify for any of these, you may be offered the nearest grammar school with a vacancy but last year some parents were offered non selective places as there were no other local grammar school places vacant. If your child has passed the eleven plus and you name grammar schools and a non selective school, for example a church comprehensive school, you will be offered the highest school on your list for which you are eligible, whether or not it is a grammar school. If your child has taken the eleven plus and not passed, you must include any grammar on the SCAF  you wish to appeal to, but I recommend you include at least one non-selective school. Appeals will not be heard until the summer of Year Six. If your child has not taken the eleven plus, you can only apply for non selective schools.  Some schools last year still claimed falsely that parents needed to put the school first on the SCAF to secure a place.

After closing date each school draws up a list of eligible applicants according to their oversubscription rules. They are not told where you listed them on the SCAF or which other schools you applied to, so list schools exactly as you prefer them - there is no way of improving your chances at a school by tactics of choice.  The only exception to this is, if  going to appeal, you will find the appeal panel is told and may be influenced by the school you have been allocated. There is no advantage in putting just one school on your list.

 

I strongly recommend you apply on-line so you reliably receive results the day before they are delivered by post. Last year over 79% of Kent parents went online.

On National Offer Day 1st March 2011, your child will be allocated the highest preference school for which they qualify.  So some children could get their fourth choice ahead of others who listed it first if their claim is stronger. If you don’t qualify for any school on your list, KCC offers a place at the nearest appropriate school with vacancies.

 

This is a time when rumours swirl about the playground gates, many of them old wives tales. If in doubt check it out and my best wishes to every family going through what is undoubtedly an extremely stressful process. Remember, over 80% of all families were offered their first choice school in March last year, a figure which will have been much higher after the appeals process was concluded.

Peter J Read

Independent Education Advice

Published in Newspaper Articles
Tuesday, 05 October 2010 00:00

Oversubscription Appeals

Updated December 2020. 

I have written a series of five articles on the developing effects of the coronavirus on school appeals as they emerged, most recently here. At the time of writing, December 2020, the government has left the contingency rules in place for 2021, but there may well be changes. 

You will find data for 2020 Appeals in Kent and Medway here

 Each year I used to receive a number of enquiries about oversubscription appeals following the normal application process for primary and secondary schools (having now retired from offering individual advice).These are where the school (it may be non-selective or grammar) is full. I advised many parents to put in a holding appeal (simply writing "I am appealing for a place for my child (name) at (name) school. A more detailed letter will follow" on the form, which means you do not need to submit full details by deadline day). You can then leave submitting a detailed letter until after the first round of reallocations takes place. 

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. I regret that I have now retired from offering individual advice. 

You will find data on 2020 appeals here. 

To make an appeal for a Kent school you should download an appeal form here if you have not been sent one with the allocation decisions sent to all families of Year Six children on the first weekday after1st March. 

  • The latest Code of Practice for School Appeals, issued by the government, took effect in 2014. Some key issues are set out at Code.
  • If your child is not allocated their first preference school in March, you may be able to secure a place at a school higher in your list through appeal or via the waiting list and you can follow both processes at the same time.
  • The first piece of advice is – don’t panic. You will not get an earlier appeal or a better hearing by sending in your case early. If you are not ready, make sure you record your appeal by the closing date, using such words as “I am appealing for….... I will send in my detailed case when it is ready”. This enables you to take advice or plan your appeal without additional pressure (it is already stressful enough!). If yours is one of the few academies that organise early appeals, you can still send in your case when you are notified of the date, without penalty. Appeal dates for each school are published on the school website, theoretically by February 28th (secondary). 
  • Appeals are always possible for both grammar non-selective schools when the number of pupils applying for a school is larger than the approved number of admissions.
  • Kent admission rules allow parents to apply to any school not on their original list after the first Allocation of vacant spaces in April using the In Year Admission process. Use this to the full, as at the least you are placed on a waiting list and then have rights of appeal. Some children who did not originally apply for a school and who now apply after first Allocation will be offered places ahead of others on the waiting list. This appears unfair to some but is following the rules. The situation in Medway is more confused and confusing. 
  • You will be asked to submit a case and appear personally at the Panel hearing, although in 2020, appeals were heard remotely or through a paperwork procedure because of the pandemic.  

Remember that the Appeal Panel will wish to give you a maximum of half an hour at the hearing in a busy day for them. A key task is to make it easy for panellists to absorb your case. So your written submission to the appeal panel should never be more than about a page and a half long. How it is written - typed, pen, bullet points, in full is irrelevant. Focus on the main points and, whilst providing written evidence such as school reports, and headteacher's letter of support (both essential otherwise the Panel will wonder why) there is no need to go into too much detail -leave the panel something to ask questions about.

The rules say that you will need to show that that the admission of one or more additional pupils will not damage the education of those already admitted, or if not that your child has a special case that trumps this. Secondly that your child is one of those who should be included amongst those to be admitted. Do not spend too much, if any, time on the first as panellists will themselves challenge the school over its capacity. If there is a group meeting (see below) then this point will be fully resolved at the meeting and you have no need to address it. 

Instead, focus on why your child should be one of those who should be included amongst those to be admitted. 

You should visit the relevant Individual Schools page for Kent here, and Medway here on this site to see the size of the task, as these pages give data on successful outcomes in previous years. There is no general recipe for success as Panels are given no guidance on what to look for. As a result, different Panels would often come to different conclusions, some favouring the multi-talented pupil, others cases of Special Need, and other difficulties that argue the child needs to be in a particular school. I have talked to panellists who are wary about giving a school too many children who pose problems for them. I have read too many advice pages that come up with a particular recipe for success. Apart from the general points set out below, it does not exist, and each case will be considered on its own merits to fit the panel's sense of what is right for the child and the school. In my extensive experience, this can vary widely across different schools in Kent. All you can do is your best!

Your case should contain the following:

(1) what is it about the school that attracts you, and give a mention to something that caught your child's imagination on your visit. It is important to show you you have visited the school in this way, and not by quoting the prospectus which will not convince an experienced panel.

(2) what is it about your child that s/he needs to be there

(3) relevant special circumstances - the key word is 'relevant'. Flippantly, grandparents and pets have a habit of dying or becoming seriously ill, requiring the child to need security, or many variations on that theme. Members of appeal panels have heard it all before. Relevant also covers Special Needs of different types, but where possible you need to explain why THAT school is necessary or at least the most suitable 

(4) Why the school you have been offered is unsuitable/less suitable for your child. Try not to denigrate the other school - panellists tend not to like this - but focus instead on factors such as transport issues and lack of facilities appropriate for your child.  

It should also be accompanied by a recent school Report and if possible a positive reference from your child's headteacher, although many will rightly find it difficult to make a case for a child and a particular school to fit together, 

If the case is one where another child has been wrongly selected ahead of your own, or that the admission policy has been interpreted wrongly, you have a very strong case for success, and other factors become secondary. 

  •  Some schools are keen to admit additional pupils, and in such cases the appeal is much easier, if you have a reasonable case, or your child appears to ‘fit’ the school ethos. you will find information on this in my Individual School pages for Kent and Medway
  • Each oversubscribed school has its own character and approach to appeals for additional pupils.
  • Grammar school oversubscription appeals can be very complex, as appellants may have children who have passed the eleven plus, others will not have, and the appeal panel has to balance competing claims.
  • Remember, at the end of the day, if the school is genuinely full there may be no way to secure admission.
Group Appeals
Many schools in Kent and Medway operate what a called Group Appeals for many of their Appeal hearings, where schools are oversubscribed.  The Admission Code for School Appeals recommends that where a school is oversubscribed, appeals should be divided into two stages. Where this happens, the first part is called the group stage, where all parents appealing are invited to a meeting at the start of proceedings. At this meeting, all the issues relating to oversubscription are debated between parents and the Admission Authority Presenting Officer in front of the Appeal Panel. However, although parents are invited to put questions and make comments first, the best challenge will often come from the Panel members after this. No matters relating to individuals are considered. The process enables the Appeal Panel to determine before hearing individual appeals how many children, if any, can be admitted before prejudice applies (see the general section on appeals).  The second stage is the individual appeal where each parent puts the case for their individual child. In the second stage, there is no discussion of oversubscription issues. It is at this stage that the  Panel then has to decide which children should be offered places, possibly accepting that for some, there will be prejudice, but their individual circumstances outweigh this. Many parents are inhibited by the Group meeting and find it difficult to put forward their points. Occasionally the meeting rapidly degenerates into an unpleasant verbal battle; at others, very few parents turn up, few views are expressed and the meeting fizzles out (more likely). My advice is to go to the meeting, at the very least you will see the Appeal Panel members in advance. Don't be afraid to speak out if you believe the school is capable of admitting extra children although this can become quite a technical argument and school cases for not admitting additional children can be quite intimidating.  You won't affect your individual chances by making the case that more children, in general, can be admitted. However, where there is no Group Appeal, questioning on prejudice is required to take place in every appeal and can be quite perfunctory and formulaic, so there does need to be a  change of approach.   One of the strongest arguments year on year comes from looking at the numbers in older year groups. If the school can manage these, then why shouldn't it manage the same number again. 
Monday, 04 October 2010 00:00

Secondary School Appeals

Last updated: December 2020. You will find the latest page on the effects on school appeals of the Coronavirus here.

You will find further information, comment and advice in the page relating to specific types of appeal: Kent grammar schools; Medway grammar school review and appeal; oversubscription appeals; and primary school appeals. A look at key points of the School Admissions Appeals Code also contains further advice and information.  

You will find data for 2020 Appeals in Kent and Medway entry here and more information about individual Kent schools here

I am afraid I have completely retired from offering individual appeals advice. 

All school appeals are required to follow the mandatory School Admissions Appeals Code.

Parents have the right to appeal against any decision not to offer a school place, and that decision must be in writing and contain information on how to appeal.  Whilst there is no time limit on when an appeal can be lodged,  it is normally best to meet the official closing dates, otherwise parents may find the schools their appeal is heard late and the school has filled at the time of the main appeals.

I regularly receive a number of enquiries about oversubscription appeals at the beginning of March when decisions arrive. These arise where the school (it may be non-selective or grammar) is full after the main allocation of places. 

In all cases, it is important that you notify the Admission Authority (which is the Local Authority in the case of Community and Voluntary Controlled Schools, otherwise it is the school or academy) that you are appealing, so that you are in the lists before the closing date for appeals. I advise many parents to put in a holding appeal (simply writing "I am appealing for a place for my child (name) at (name) school. A more detailed letter will follow" on the form you are sent with your decision letter, which means you do not need to submit full details by deadline day). You can then leave submitting a detailed letter until you have a clearer picture of the situation and you can also find out by how much you missed out on a place (for example distance) from the school. 

For non-selective schools, or oversubscribed grammar schools where your child passed the Kent or Medway Test, you should also apply to go on the waiting list. Arrangements for both processes are sent with your allocation letter on National Allocation Day.

In any case, DO NOT PANIC. Do not send off something immediately. It may damage your case when the appeal is finally heard and, however angry you are with the allocation, you won't gain any advantage or have your case heard early.  It is best to wait until you are ready with all your supporting evidence and then send it in together. It is good practice to get all material there at least ten days before the appeals start for your school, to ensure that papers can be distributed to the panellists. Few appeals are heard before May but Admission Authorities must publish their appeal timetable on their website. No Appeal Panel will discriminate against you if you deliver supplementary material after the official closing date for appeals, although administrators often find it convenient and may hassle you. If you don’t register your appeal until after this date you may find your appeal is heard after the main batch, when it may be more difficult to win an appeal if there is no room.

This right includes appeals against a decision not to be offered a place at sixth form, although the student themselves can also appeal in such cases.

In Kent and Medway, appeals are heard before an Independent Appeal Panel comprising three panellists (except at Simon Langton Boys Grammar that normally uses five panellists). These are independent of the school and the Local Authority, but are appointed by the Admission Authority. All panellists are required to have been trained. An Appeal Panel has to have at least one Advisory Member and one Lay Member. An Advisory Member has experience in education, or is acquainted with educational conditions in the area, or is the parent of a registered child at a school. A Lay Member does not have personal experience in the management or provision of education in any school, but may be a school governor or have other voluntary experience. As you can see, appeal panellists do not initially have to have great knowledge of the education system, but soon acquire expertise in the role and in the different situations they may be faced with. All are volunteers and in my experience the great majority carry out an effective job. 

Chances of success at appeal vary widely; last year the number of successful appeals at individual Kent grammar schools varied from 0 to 75, and for non selective schools from 0 to 51. You will find some more detail about appeal outcomes for 2019 here.  These figures confirm that whilst Panels are trained to follow the mandatory Code of Practice, they may adapt their decision to local circumstances, such as the pressure on places. 

For non selective and primary schools, appeals are against a decision not to admit the child because the school is full. 

For grammar schools, there are three types of appeal:
1) Against a decision that the child has been found non selective, although there are still places in the school;
2) Against a decision that the child has been found non-selective and the school is full;
3) Against a decision that the child has been found selective but the school is full. 

Appeal Panels can be organised in a variety of ways. All community  and voluntary controlled schools in Kent and Medway will use Panels selected and trained by the Local Authority, but independent of the Education Department. The LA also provides clerks to administer the process and will manage all paperwork. 

Academies, Foundation and Voluntary Aided Schools in Kent may also use the services of Local Authority Panels, but those in Kent or Medway have three alternative choices:

  1. There are several Independent Appeal Panel Administrators operating in the area who offer services to a number of schools. These will recruit their own appeal Panel members and provide Independent Clerks. 
  2. A few schools use their own independent clerk to organise appeals and may recruit their own Independent panellists.
  3. There are now a couple of organisations offering to run appeals for schools, in one case even offering to provide the school representative at the appeal! Statistics for these panels suggest a much lower rate of success. 


In my experience, Appeal Panels are less independent than say ten years ago, as many schools recognise they are paying for the service, with some quite prepared to change provider if outcomes don't reflect school wishes in general terms. 

Each Panel administrator should provide comprehensive documentation in advance setting out the appeal process, so that parents know what procedure is to be followed.

An increasing number of schools that are oversubscribed in both Kent and Medway operate a group appeal. At a group appeal, all appealing parents are invited to hear the Admission Authority case for not admitting additional pupils in the presence of the Independent Appeal Panel, and to ask questions. The Appeal Panel can then make a decision on how many additional children should be admitted (if any), so that individual appeals can focus on the parental case, without the issues of fullness being considered further at every appeal. No individual case or circumstances are considered at the group stage. 

I believe this is an effective way of managing oversubscription appeals, but can produce fireworks or a difficult meeting that requires good chairmanship. Where a group appeal is not used, each individual hearing considers evidence on both the fullness of the school and the case for the individual child.

Last Updated October 2019: Warning: None of the following takes into Account the unknown Consequences for School Admissions of Coronavirus

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This page is designed primarily for parents resident in Medway, whose children will be transferring to state secondary schools in September 2020. It should be read in conjunction with the pages on Medway Grammar School Admissions and Kent Secondary School Admissions.

There is more information, advice and comment on the School Admission Code page.

You will find the full Medway Co-Ordinated Admission Scheme for entry in September 2020 here.

Please note that for parents applying for any school in Medway outside the normal admission round, you will need to go through the In Year Admission process. For schools run by Medway Council applications need to be made through the Council. Most academies and Voluntary Aided schools manage their own late and in year admissions, in which case they are technically nothing to do with the Council. However, some of these still delegate the process to Medway Council. In my experience Medway Council does not appear to operate a systematic approach to such admissions, with varying advice, some of it breaking the Schools Admission Code. You will find further details here

News and Information Items relevant to Medway Secondary School Admission for September 2020 

Oversubscription and Vacancies in Medway Non-Selective Schools: Allocation March 2019

Oversubscription and Vacancies in Medway Grammar Schools: Allocation March 2019

Secondary School Allocation Statistics in Medway for September 2019: Initial Statistics

Secondary School Appeals

Medway Grammar School Review and Appeals

Information on Individual Medway Secondary Schools

 
Statistics for 2010 to 2018, including Medway Test result and Review entry are here.

Consult the article on In Year Admissions if you are looking for a new school at other times.

TIMETABLE
 
Key Action
Key Dates in Scheme
Opening date for registration for Medway Tests 9am Monday 3 June 2019
Closing date for registration for Medway Tests 5pm Monday 1 July 2019
Secondary school applications open 9am Monday 9 September 2019
Medway Test Date for children attending Medway primary, junior and independent schools which have opted to test in own school during the week Tuesday 17/ Wednesday 18 September 2019
Medway Test date for children attending Medway primary, junior and independent schools which have opted to test in own school on Saturday and those children from out of area and those Medway schools that have not opted to test in own school (will be tested in test centres). Saturday 21 September 2019
Parents informed of test results Monday 7 October 2019
Closing Date for review requests Monday 14 October 2019
Parents informed of review results by Wednesday 23 October 2019
National Closing Date for Common Application Form (online and SCAF) 5pm Thursday 31 October 2019
National Offer Day, offers posted or sent by email Monday 2 March 2020
Places must be accepted/refused and requests to go on a waiting list and appeals must be submitted By Tuesday 31 March 2020
Vacant places re-allocated by Medway Council Monday 20 April 2020 until Thursday 31 December 2020

Whilst there are national closing and offer dates, each Local Authority operates slightly different processes for allocating pupils, for example Medway parents have six choices and Kent parents have four choices. The Medway secondary school admission prospectus (an essential item, available from Medway Council or your local primary school), or online here, when available, contains details of the all important oversubscription rules, which determine if you will be offered a place if too many people apply. Medway residents need to apply on the  Medway Secondary Common Application Form (SCAF), also listing any schools in Kent applied for. In the same way, residents of Kent and other Local Authorities should apply for Medway schools on their own Local Authority application form. 

GRAMMAR SCHOOL TESTING

It is essential that all parents, who are considering entering their child for the Medway or Kent tests, register their child on the appropriate form obtainable from the primary school or the LA. In Medway, you will find a copy of the form in the LA Prospectus “Admission to Secondary School”. Your child cannot take the Medway or Kent tests if he or she has not been registeredYou cannot be considered for a Medway grammar school if your child has not sat the  Medway tests, except in the case of the two Chatham Grammars - see following. There is nothing to lose by entering your child for both tests. For the two Chatham Grammar Schools, admission is via success in either Kent or Medway tests. Medway Grammar School applications are considered in more detail on a separate page.
 
THE REVIEW PROCESS 
Where children have taken the Medway Test and been unsuccessful, parents have the right to request a review of the decision within the next week. Results will be out in time for you to complete your SCAF. Parents will need to think carefully about whether to apply for a Review, as if unsuccessful, you may find yourself barred from making an appeal on academic grounds and in any case, the Review documents are presented tot he appeal panel. For more information see Medway grammar school Review and appeal.
 
APPLICATIONS 
Most Secondary School Open Days take place in the Autumn Term. Most Grammar schools hold Open Days after assessment results are sent out on 7th October. Details of these are published in the Medway Admissions Booklet.

Parents will then be able to select up to six schools in order on the Secondary Common Application Form (SCAF).   

Some scenarios:
 
 1) If the child has passed the Medway tests, you may name just grammar schools on your SCAF. Because there are falling numbers in Medway secondary schools, there are plenty of vacancies in the system, so naming all grammar schools for which your child is eligible ensures he or she will be allocated to one of these. 
 2) If your child has not taken the eleven plus, you can only be considered for non selective schools.
 3) If your child has taken the eleven plus and not passed, and you wish to appeal, you must name the grammar schools you wish to appeal to on the SCAF, together with any non selective schools you wish to apply to.
 4) If your child has passed the eleven plus and you name grammar schools and a non selective school, for example a church comprehensive school, you will be offered the highest school on your list for which your child is eligible. If this is the non selective school then you will be offered it in preference to a grammar school lower down your list.
5) Note if you finish up appealing see "Warning" below.
 
The process of identifying which one school your child will be offered on National Offer Day is called an Equal Preference Scheme and is quite complex to understand.
 
However:
 
You will not boost your chances at a school by placing it in a different order than your genuine preference. Sadly, some schools still verbally advise parents otherwise. No Kent or Medway school is told the position where parents have placed a school on the SCAF at allocation time, and so none can offer a place according to position.
 
Each school draws up a list of eligible applicants in terms of priority according to their oversubscription criteria. They are not told where you have listed them on the SCAF, so list schools exactly as you prefer them and don’t be swayed by any school telling you it gives priority to those who list them first. Your child will then be offered the highest preference school for which they are eligible. This means that some children could get their fourth choice ahead of others who listed it first if their claim is stronger. If your child does not qualify for any school on your SCAF, the LA will offer a place at the nearest Medway school it judges as appropriate, or sensible.

Warning on Medway School Admissions

Schools are not allowed to know the position you have placed them on the Application Form when drawing up rankings of children to determine who is awarded a place. However, for appeals the whole application form,including reasons for applying for a school is sent to schools being appealed for to be provided as evidence for appeal panels when considering appeals. I regard it as a seriously retrograde step placing parents in an invidious position regarding their choice of schools. It is certainly wrong according to the spirit, if not the letter, of the mandatory School Admissions Code,that does not allow schools to know in which order the parents have placed them on the form for admission purposes.  However, I am told it is legal and other Authorities (not Kent) also use it when parents appeal for a school place in March, It is possible that some schools which are their own admission authorities (including academies) may choose not to present the information to Independent Appeal Panels. If you are likely to have to appeal, you therefore have to consider order of preference on the Common Application Form much  more carefully than in previous years, as the school and appeal panel will now see all your preferences and be entitled to ask the reason for them.

Further, there is a section for you to provide the reason for applying to each school separately on the Form.  This used to be confidential to the school applied for and continues to be so, unless you appeal, when as it is on the common application form it is shared with all schools you are appealing to. Obviously if you put down strong reasons for applying to one school it may reflect badly on you if appealing for another! My advice is therefore clear. Do not put any entry in this section, unless you are applying on health grounds (or similar) on which you consider your child needs to attend a particular school, in which case you would also need to provide medical evidence to substantiate your claim. Otherwise, reasons are completely ignored for allocating places in the admission procedure as they do not form part of the criteria or rules by which places are allocated.

APPEALS

Your right to appeal is to a particular school, and so you must have applied for it on your SCAF. Medway Council has determined that no late applications to grammar schools are allowed outside the normal process.  For Kent, you will need to use the In Year Admission process. For Medway, you probably need to go through the Council who also hold waiting lists for all the schools and  academies. The Medway process is often difficult and you may be initially told it is not possible. 
Grammar school appeals are likewise not against a non selective decision in general, but must be made for a named school. As a result, you must list any school you wish to appeal for on your SCAF. You have to wait until National Offer day on 2nd March before the school technically rejects your application and only then can you appeal.
This year the first appeals were heard in the last week of March (Medway tends to come first), the final ones not being heard until the middle of June.
 
GUIDANCE
 
It is difficult to give general guidance on placing schools in order, as circumstances change enormously from town to town depending on popularity of individual schools and their oversubscription rules. Above all, make sure that you and your child visit the schools you are considering.
  • For all oversubscribed schools find out if you would have been accepted last year. Ask for the distance from school the furthest pupil who was accepted lived. Many church schools admit children according to their level of church support. Find out which category of religious support was the lowest accepted.
  • Each Medway school and academy makes its own rules and you need to check these out carefully to find if you are likely to be offered a place.
  •  Check the rules about free school transport, which only apply if you live more than three miles from your nearest appropriate school, or for certain church schools (this is different from Kent where children only qualify if they live more than three miles from their nearest school without taking into account "appropriate". These rules are detailed in the School Admission Booklet for your LA. See the page on School Transport and Appeals. If applying for a grammar school, especially if you live on the Hoo Peninsula make sure you apply to the nearest grammar school somewhere on your list (even if you are unlikely to be offered a place there). If you are trying to secure free transport to one of the Chatham Grammar Schools you may need to appeal to the nearest (usually RGS or the Math, and be turned down to satisfy the Council that the Chatham Grammar is your nearest appropriate available. 
  • Try and make sure that you will be eligible for at least one school on your list, otherwise you will be allocated the nearest one with vacancies, which may not be to your liking.
  • Parents applying for secondary school places may be given a supplementary form “only where the additional information is required for the governing body to apply their oversubscription criteria to the application”. In Medway, this only applies to St John Fisher Catholic School. You are under no obligation to provide information which is not required for this purpose. No form should ask parents to state what preferences they have named on their SCAF, or the order in which they have stated their preferences, as no school requires this to apply its oversubscription criteria.
  • In Medway, 89% of children secured their first or second choice in March for entry in September 2019 (92% in 2018 & 91% in 2017). 
  • If not offered the school of your choice you can apply to go on the waiting list for any or all schools at which you have been turned down. Application forms sent with decision letter on 2st March. 
  • Both Kent and Medway have an on-line application system on which parents can change choices up to the closing date. Details of the Medway scheme can be found here. One concern for primary heads is that because they do not see these forms, they are unable to check if parents have made sensible decisions. Conversely, parents can hide decisions from the school, – valuable where certain primary schools strongly encourage certain applications. On-line applicants will be able to access decisions after 4 p.m. on 2nd March. Paper applicants will receive decisions by post on 3nd March.
  • Most Medway secondary schools use nearness of homes to the school as measured by the nearest safe walking route determined by the Medway Council Geographical Information System. In a series of successful appeals in recent years, I have demonstrated that the application of this system can be flawed.
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