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Saturday, 14 April 2012 18:43

Primary School Admissions, 2012 pressures on places

I now have detailed information on Kent and Medway primary school admission offers for September 2012. On the surface, all looks well with a healthy 95% of children in Kent being offered one of their three choices, similar to last year. However, with rising rolls the number of children being allocated a school they hadn’t chosen has risen from 564 to 818 in two years, a worrying rise of 45%.

You will find more general information in a separate article below.  I have started to provide more detailed information on difficult areas, via the links below. 

Analysis of the figures shows a sharp contrast between most of West Kent and most of East Kent and between urban and rural areas. Maidstone town is the most difficult area, with over 100 children allocated to schools they did not apply for (you will find an earlier article on part of the problem here) and NO places free in any school in the town. Other problem areas include:........

Tunbridge Wells with just 16 places left free out of the 920 available, and 75 children having none of their choices - 15 of those 16 places being in Pembury School (just outside the town), and only exist as its capacity was expanded by 30 at short notice last year, to cater for the difficulties; Sevenoaks 94 children allocated, 7 left free; urban Dartford, 71 children allocated and 7 places left free;  south Thanet (around Ramsgate), 65 children allocated, 8 places free all in one school in Broadstairs; Folkestone, 43 children allocated, 6 left free; and the area around Faversham with 37 children allocated. There are also issues in Tonbridge

I shall be posting more detailed information on these areas shortly. You will find information on the Medway  situation, here

Kent County Council, in a confidential analysis of issues produced in 2009, identified major problems for 2011 entry in Dartford, Gravesham, Thanet and Tunbridge Wells, some of these other issues being masked by rural parts of the districts having spare capacity. Sadly, little was done to alleviate the problems at a time when finances were easier, and last year, when I pointed out that chickens were coming home to roost, KCC’s response was that  across Kent there was not a problem as a whole and in any case these figures were out of date! What is clear is that although Kent’s Primary Strategy of 2006 has a policy that there should be between 5-7% surplus capacity in an area, it has not planned to meet this policy. Where additional places have been added, too often these are last minute decisions and often in inappropriate schools. Last year Claremont Primary School exposed this poverty of planning. What we are seeing is an unwritten change of policy from trying to meet parental preferences, to a minimalist offering of children a school somewhere, no matter how suitable.   

The Primary strategy  also states that all through primary schools should only have two forms of entry except in exceptional circumstances; but this fallen by the wayside as extra classes are squeezed into often unsuitable schools accommodated by temporary classrooms.

Riverhead Infant School in Sevenoaks has soared to the top of the oversubscription table, turning away 54 first choices with the neighbouring Sevenoaks Primary School turning away 44 children, in fourth place. In between come Madginford Park in Maidstone, and Priory Infants, Ramsgate. In fifth place comes St James CofE VA Infant School, in Tunbridge Wells, then: Slade Primary, Tonbridge; Sandgate Primary, Folkestone; West Hill Primary, Dartford; St John's Catholic Primaryl, Gravesend; Joyden's Wood Infants, Dartford; St Peter's Methodist, Canterbury; Holy Trinity & St John's CofE Primary, Margate; St John's CofE Primary, Tunbridge Wells; St Stephen's Infant, Canterbury; Ethelbert Road Primary, Faversham; and St Mildred's Infants, Broadstairs. All these schools turned away 30 or more first choices.

At the other end of the table, 14 schools, nearly all in  East Kent, have over half their places left empty. Three of these  have all admitted fewer than 50% of their capacity for each of the last three years. How on earth can they remain viable, but the political controversy over closing such schools is always intense, even if this would release resources to provide extra provision in places  of greatest need. 

Last modified on Wednesday, 16 October 2013 07:25


  • Comment Link Wednesday, 19 September 2012 19:46 posted by Ed

    Does this matter? So long as all the kids learn how to build airport runways then its job done isn't it?

    Perhaps if KCC concentrated on incentivising families to move out of Kent/UK the problem would go away, rather than OK'ing building swaithes of new housing on our green spaces and expanding airports.. The migration IN is the cause. PETER: of course if you think that education is unnecessary as children put to work building runways don't need it you have solved the problem anyway. This is of course an education website, not a political one, so I won't debate the issue.

  • Comment Link Saturday, 04 August 2012 20:22 posted by Emma

    Why can't I find the catchment area for st Johns primary in Tunbridge Wells. Can anyone help me? PETER - There is no such thing as a catchment area. St John's is a voluntary controlled (VC) school and all VCs and Community Primary schools have the same rules for selecting children if they are oversubscribed. These are published in the Kent Prospectus and for Reception classes are as follows: 1) Children in Local Authority Care; 2) Current Family Association (sibling link); 3) Health & Special Access Reasons; 4) Nearness of Children's Homes. Nearly all places are allocated on categories (1) & (3). Nearness can vary significantly from year to year and the cut off is not known until places are awarded on allocation day. The school should be able to tell you what it was for the previous year as a very rough guide to likelihood of success.

  • Comment Link Thursday, 03 May 2012 17:37 posted by Sevenoaks Dad

    It was a crazy year for Sevenoaks Primary. The admission catchment was only 0.29miles, which when you think of it as an area, is around a quarter of the last few years (Which have always been around 0.5miles, even when you account for the 90 intake last year). Sibling intake was quite high, but not that far off previous years to explain the shift.
    My guess - a lot of people getting places who would previously have gone private....the impact of the recession is far reaching.

  • Comment Link Wednesday, 18 April 2012 21:58 posted by Sevenoaks Mum

    Wow - this is incredibly difficult for the 94 families affected. Do you know anything about how far away the children that were admitted to Sevenoaks Primary and Riverhead Infants lived? My daughters Sevenoaks based nursery said they have never had children going to so many different schools and that most people had not been given their first choices.

    I expect you are right that some people allocated to less popular schools will go down the private route. I also expect other who have got into one of their choices may still decide private is the right option for them so I there will probably be some movement but not 94 places worth.

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