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Displaying items by tag: oversubscription

Tuesday, 15 June 2021 06:05

Swale Crisis in Non-Selective School Places

There is an immediate crisis of accommodation in the three Sittingbourne non-selective (N/S) schools, which are overwhelmed with families trying to access them and avoid Oasis Academy Isle of Sheppey. I gave a summary in my article on 2021 admissions to Kent N/S schools here, but now have further detail. For families, the chilling news is that by 2023, even when all of the vacant Oasis places are filled with Sittingbourne children, there won’t be enough Year Seven school spaces for local children across the area. KCC’s vague solution is to ‘continue to press for access to the North Sittingbourne (Quinton Road) development to establish a new 6FE secondary school to meet the future need from the population growth and new housing developments’, but with no sense of urgency nor sign of achieving anything.

I am now told that KCC forgot to allocate some children with Education and Health Care Plans to Swale schools before allocations were made this year, which is the correct procedure, but instead gave them to the Sittingbourne schools afterwards. The result is that numbers became even more swollen, especially at Fulston Manor which received eleven extra pupils in this way. Unsurprisingly with these pressures, not one of the 68 appeals heard for a place at Fulston Manor was successful and, looking at the tremendously strong appeal defence for Westlands, I doubt if there will be much more success there, or indeed at The Sittingbourne School.

The article concludes with a look at the delays in setting up England's first Secure School, to be run by Oasis in Rochester. 

Published in News and Comments

There has been a fall of some 400 in the number of children offered places in Reception classes of the 438 Kent primary schools in April, since last year's allocations, reflecting a dip in the birth rate five years previously. 180 additional places have been added at new schools which joined the co-ordinated admission scheme this year. As a result of both of these factors, pressure on places has eased with 13% unfilled, up from 11% last year. Dartford town is the area with fewest vacancies in 2021, having just 3% of its spaces unfilled. It is followed by Sevenoaks town with 6%, then rural Canterbury, rural Gravesham, urban Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells with 7%.  Nine schools have 60% or more of their places empty, only one more than last year.

Brent Outstanding 2021    Great Chart 2021

The most oversubscribed schools are Brent in Dartford, and Great Chart in Ashford, with 76 and 65 disappointed first choices respectively, both schools being regularly towards the top of the table. These are followed by: Claremont, Tunbridge Wells (54); Gateway (42) & Our Ladies Catholic (41) both in Dartford; Chilton, Thanet (39); Allington, Maidstone (38), Bobbing Village, Swale (35); St John’s CofE, Maidstone & Holy Trinity & St John’s CofE, Thanet (both 33); and Sandgate, Folkestone (32).

The number of children with no school of their choice has fallen to 398 from 457 last year. 199 children from outside Kent have been offered places in local schools, including 85 from Medway.

 I look more closely at each of these matters and across each District below, together with allocations to Junior Schools.

Published in News and Comments

There was only a small increase of 37 in the number of Kent primary pupils allocated places at secondary schools this year but with 267 additional secondary places created. This leaves 724 empty spaces, a 5.1% vacancy rate overall, well up on last year's 3.5%. As a result, across the county, there were few extra pressure points in Non-Selective (N/S) schools. Key areas were Canterbury, Gravesham and Sevenoaks which had just five vacancies across their 15 schools, but Ashford, Dartford, Swale and Thanet all have localised problems created by polarisation of choices. Unfortunately, misleading information by KCC appears to hide a large shortage of places in Tunbridge Wells (TW). The converse problem exists in Thanet, where KCC is promoting an unnecessary new school in Margate.

The unpopularity of Oasis Academy Isle of Sheppey with its 108 Local Authority Allocations has propelled Fulston Manor and Westlands to the top of the oversubscription table.  These two schools are followed by Knole Academy, Meopham School, St George's CofE Foundation (Broadstairs) and the recently opened Stone Lodge School. Most of the others were also present in the table last year, apart from newly arrived Canterbury Academy, the new School of Science and Technology Maidstone (SSTM), The Lenham School and Skinners Kent Academy

There are 393 OOC children offered places in non-selective schools across the county, Knole Academy, Homewood School and Bennett Memorial Diocesan School all offering over 50 places to OOC children, with 252 travelling the other way 

The schools struggling to attract pupils are also broadly the same as last year, in most cases propped up by Local Authority Allocations of children who have not been offered more popular schools. 

I explore all these matters further, below, together with a survey of allocation patterns in each of Kent's Districts, together with changes in the admissions rules for Church schools affected by Covid. 

Published in News and Comments

With this week’s news that Kent’s first Garden City is to be built in Ebbsfleet, we also learn that six of the most oversubscribed schools in Kent and Medway are in neighbouring Dartford, so there is already immense pressure on provision and it will be essential to get the education infrastructure in place at an early stage.

Dartford Grammar School has not only expanded its intake by 30 to 150 boys this year it has turned away 146 grammar qualified applicants who put it first choice, to take top spot for popularity amongst grammar schools. Leigh Academy keeps its top spot in Kent for non-selective schools, having rejected 106 first choices. Dartford Girls Grammar turned away 89, with three other Dartford schools also heavily oversubscribed. These are Wilmington Academy (44), and the two Wilmington Grammar Schools, the Boys having extended its intake by 30 but still being 28 places oversubscribed. Wilmington Girls is full for the first time in some years, turning away 20 grammar qualified first choices. 

Elsewhere, as usual the pressure on boys’ grammar school places is very high in West Kent,.......

Published in Newspaper Articles