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Wednesday, 16 October 2013 08:03

Kent Secondary Admission Applications more complicated for 2014 entry

Government introduced new flexibility into the number of places each secondary school could offer for 2013, and many popular Kent schools responded positively with hundreds of families being pleasantly surprised to receive offers at schools they were not expecting. 

For 2014, the situation has changed further and considerably, some of the changes being confirmed, others removed and more having made increases, or in a few cases decreases, in their numbers. Further, we can be sure that some schools will once again increase their admission number when and only when they see their application numbers.

I have identified below those changes that are confirmed, although several are subject to further change before March. There is also the additional factor for a number of non-selective schools which, knowing they may lose children in the post allocation churn, mop up any appellants before the appeals take place. See article on appeals below

There are three major consequences of these changes:

1)  Parents can’t be sure when making application decisions, if the number of places advertised for a school will be increased by the school after applications go in. This can only happen in the case of an academy, free school or a Foundation or Voluntary Aided School who are their own admission authorities.  

2)  This pattern both of uncertainty and lack of similar historical patterns makes it more difficult for parents in some areas to make logical choices.

3)  For schools, government policy allowing popular schools to expand has the mirror consequence that those at the bottom of the pile are likely to spiral into further decline in numbers. I anticipate that as a result there will be closures within a couple of years.

A detailed breakdown of the known changes follows.....

A number of schools have made last year’s enlargements permanent: Highworth Grammar (up from 180 to 184); Invicta Grammar (175 to 192); Maidstone Grammar Girls (175 to 180); Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar (137 to 140); Skinners Kent Academy (150 to 180); Weald of Kent Grammar (145 to 175); Wilmington Academy (150 to 180); Wrotham School (120 to 130).

Two schools that have enlarged for each of the past two years are: Homewood School, which went up to 380 last year, has increased even further to 390 for 2014 entry, being 360 two years ago; and Valley Park School (180 two years ago, and 210 last year) has increased again to 240 for September 2014;

Other new enlargements are: Dartford Grammar School for Girls up from 150 to 160. Folkestone Academy up to 270 from 240 (with a parallel decrease in neighbouring Pent Valley, see below); Folkestone School for Girls up to 180 from 165 (although the school has not filled before in my memory, it may be anticipating additional girls through the new Shepway Test); Hayesbrook School up to 160 from 151 (one of the schools that traditionally scoops in all its appellants).

In addition, the three new secondary Free Schools join the Kent Co-ordinated Admission Scheme this year so there is no dual application and children will only be allocated one school in March. These are: Hadlow Rural Community School with an admission number of just 30; Trinity School (Sevenoaks)120; and Wye Free School 90 places. Discussions I have had with parents in the last few weeks across Kent suggest that both Trinity and Wye can expect to be heavily oversubscribed for 2014 entry. 

A number of schools which increased places temporarily last year have formally slipped back to their previous admission number. For these, the big question is whether they will increase again between closing date for admissions and allocation. The classic case is The Judd School, which rose to 155 last year and has fallen back to 125 for 2014 entry.  The consequence was that many boys who did not expect a place at Judd found themselves with one in March or through reallocation in April. Others will be cross because they didn’t apply, fearing the required score would be too high (it depends on the number of boys applying and their aggregate scores in the Kent Test, so is not known until March). There are several clues as to their intention and I believe they will once again admit the higher number of 155 boys, but it may well be that the school has itself not yet decided. Tonbridge Grammar rose from 150 up to 173 last year, but is advertising an intake of 150 again for 2014 entry. Here, the evidence is not so strong but I suspect they will once again go for the higher number. Skinners also rose to 150 and is back down to 115 this year, but in this case I am less confident as the site is somewhat cramped and may not have the capacity to take in more additional classes.    

 Other schools which have not made their temporary enlargement permanent are: Barton Court Grammar (128 back down to 120); Bennett Memorial (240 back down to 224 - it has lost some children to the Trinity School); Herne Bay High (265 back down to 258); Mascalls (255 back down to 240); Norton Knatchbull (180 back down to 149, although with the neighbouring girls’ Highworth at 184 and full, I would be surprised if it doesn’t go again). I would not be surprised of most if not all of these took additional children again this summer.

 The confusingly named Chatham and Clarendon Grammar School (formerly the Chatham House and Clarendon House Grammars now amalgamated) have reduced their joint capacity back to 180 after last year’s confusing increase to 99 for each separately). The new school is not to be confused with Chatham Grammar school in Medway. Traditionally Chatham House just about filled and took additional children on appeal, whilst Clarendon House did not fill. The new arrangement of the co-educational school will probably work well with numbers.

 Castle Community College in Deal has swallowed up Walmer Technology College and has now increased its intake to 180 (although the two schools separately were previously 263 in total, with plenty of spaces between them). I anticipate this will be about right.

 Chaucer Technology College in Canterbury is probably the biggest loser having reduced its admission number from 235 to 150 in the last few years, and is less than half full in both the current Years 7 & 8.

 Another school reducing its roll is Pent Valley School Folkestone, which has cut its admission number from to 180. It will suffer further from the introduction of the Shepway Test for the two Folkestone grammar schools. Initial reports suggest that the intakes for the grammar schools will be much higher for 2014, drawing children who would otherwise be heading for the non-selective schools. 

 Little change in Medway which has now reached the bottom of a sharp drop in numbers creating plenty of spaces all round. The one school which changed its intake last year was Rainham Mark Grammar School taking in an additional 30 children. According to the school, this is a one off and they will fall back to 175, releasing another class of children to the other grammars three of which had vacancies.

This all appears very confusing, but KCC which is legally responsible for provision of school  places has little control over most of its schools; those which are academies, free schools, foundation and voluntary aided schools. Its role therefore has ceased being one of strategic planning, being replaced by a role of influencing schools that are independent of it. 

 Plenty there for all the 16,000 Kent families looking for secondary places for September 2014, and  I hope that the above is helpful to many of you. 



Last modified on Wednesday, 09 September 2015 21:52

1 comment

  • Comment Link Thursday, 24 October 2013 12:32 posted by Smitha

    Thanks,the above information was very helpful. My son has scored 421 marks out of 450 marks in sep 2013 11+test in Kent.I want to know is there any grammar schools (apart from 'The Judd School') whose admission criteria is purely on the 'academic ability'. At present we are living in Hounslow (not in Kent) and we are ok to move to Kent to get a grammar school place.So before which date we have to move in order to achieve a place? Thanks,Smitha PETER: I am highly saddened that people who live so far away from Kent and can't even be bothered to try and understand the local system, operate in this way, seeking to take grammar school places away from children who live in the locality. This is part of the increasing evidence that some of Kent's grammar schools are becoming open hunting ground for families with no local connections whatever.Surely the schools concerned need to address this unfairness through changes in their admission criteria.

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