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I am delighted to report that the first of my four complaints to the Schools Adjudicator about admission arrangements for Medway schools has been upheld

To be fair, Brompton Academy, on receipt of my complaint recognised the validity of my arguments and withdrew their proposals,  so this formal decision is just  confirmation of their actions. I also submitted complaints relating to three other academies at the same time, but aspects of these are still contested and as the matter is currently sub judice I am unable to comment at this time. A previous article entitled 'The Unique Medway Secondary School Admission Lotteryset out my previous concerns and resulted in four academies withdrawing all, or part of their proposals, as explained here.

Brompton Academy

The big question to ask is where is Medway Council in all this? As far as I know they have not even expressed a view, although the subsequent actions of these schools as described in my second article already show recognition of the unfairness of the proposals. Medway Council, which operates under the utterly unjustified slogan 'Serving You', has once again failed to take action or even comment in the interests of its taxpayers and families, as illustrated so often previously in these pages. Surely it should not all be left to me! Is there no-one on Medway Council prepared to challenge the actions or inaction of the education service? 

Published in News and Comments

Note: This article includes the out of county information I have now received from Medway Council. This is much more significant for grammar schools, and I have also now incorporated this into my Medway Grammar School article.  

76% of children offered places in Medway’s eleven secondary schools on allocation in March were given their first choice school. All but 55 of the 1645 non-selective secondary school places available were filled a vacancy rate of just 3.3%, nearly all in two schools, St John Fisher Catholic and Hundred of Hoo Academy. This takes into account the net 30 places taken out of two schools since the 2017 allocations.

Brompton Academy

The most oversubscribed school was, as it has been for many years, Brompton Academy, turning away 193 first preferences or 47% of the total, the second highest figure across both Kent and Medway. Just four more of the eleven non-selective schools turned away children who put them first: Thomas Aveling school – 70; Strood Academy – 35; Rainham Girls – 17; and Howard School 15.

136 Medway children received no school of their choice and were allocated places in local schools (Local Authority Allocations or LAA) by Medway Council, 58 at St John Fisher Catholic and 41 at Victory Academy.

Further details below.

Published in News and Comments

Further update: Holcombe proposal to change to co-ed turned down

Update: Potential issues on the Hoo Peninsula expanded below, along with a different look at the numbers.  

This is my third article looking at school admission oversubscription rules that appear to be unlawful and open to challenge. The two previous articles focused on Invicta Grammar in Maidstone & The Rochester Grammar in Medway, and Sir Joseph Williamson’s Mathematical School, also in Rochester.

There is a unique situation rapidly developing in Medway, in spite of challenges by the Council in previous years with nearly all secondary academies appearing to rush like Gaderine swine this year to give admission priority to schools in their Academy Trusts and limit options for families. In Kent, where the Local Authority also keeps a close eye on such matters, there is no evidence of anything similar after Invicta Grammar School withdrew their proposal. 

In Medway, amongst the issues, it is proposed that pupils at over a quarter of all non-catholic primary and junior schools (excluding infant schools) and 38% of all primary and junior academies will be given priority for admission to specific grammar schools (some of these schemes are already in place). Pupils at half of all primary and junior academies will be given priority for admission to one or more linked schools, which poses an additional challenge for families choosing primary schools. Already fourteen of Medway's 17 secondary schools either have admission policies that give preference to children from named schools or are proposing to introduce them. 

Medway Council's policy of encouraging all its schools to become academies has obviously played its part in this undesirable outcome, and is bound to see numbers of the tied primary schools increase as more change status. Currently, 42 of Medway's 65 primary and junior schools are academies. 

I look below at the situation as it affects each of Medway's secondary schools and linked primary academies.………

Published in News and Comments

The proportion of children offered one of their choices in a Medway primary school has risen to 97.4%, the highest proportion for at least five years. This is a result of a reduction of 160 in the number of Medway school places taken up by children from the Authority and outside. As a result, there are 432 vacancies across the 67 schools, which is 12% of the total available, up from 7% in 2016.

Most difficult area as usual is Rainham, with just 8 vacancies in two of its schools, a total of 2%. of the total number of places.  At the other end is Rochester with 17% of all places left empty in five schools. Most popular school is Barnsole Primary which turned away 52 first choices, followed by Walderslade and Pilgrim primaries with 29 disappointed first choices for their 30 places. There are ten schools with more than first choices turned away, nine in Chatham and Gillingham, listed in the table below. 

Barnsole     Pilgrim 3    Walderslade Primary 2  

Eight schools have over a third of their places empty, up from five in 2016, but headed for the second year running by All Hallows Primary Academy, with 70% of its Reception places empty (up from 60% in 2016). Altogether 31 of the 67 primary schools have vacancies in their Reception classes. 85 Medway children  were offered none of their choices and have been allocated to other schools with vacancies by Medway Council, well over half in Chatham and Gillingham schools.  

look more closely at each Medway area below, together with the situation for Junior Schools…….

Published in News and Comments
See article in Kent on Sunday: 1st April 2017 
This article looks at the key oversubscription and vacancy situation in Medway non-selective schools, following secondary allocations at the beginning of March.
The headline figure for all secondary allocations shows a seriously worsening picture, with a fall of over 5% in the proportion of Medway children being offered their first choice of school, and a near doubling of the number getting none of their choices from 77 to 145 children. According to Cabinet Member Martin Potter in a press release, “This is great news”! See my previous article for initial figures.
 
There were just 14 additional places created above the final intakes for 2016, all at Strood and Thomas Aveling Academies. However, with a hundred extra children accommodated in Medway’s non-selective schools, this produced a doubling of children being offered none of their choices, instead becoming Local Authority Allocated Children (LAAC) at schools with vacancies.

Most popular non-selective school is once again Brompton Academy, disappointing 177 first choices, well up on 2016’s figure of 108.

Brompton Academy

Five of the eleven non-selective schools had vacancies, most at Victory Academy with 30% empty spaces, in spite of having 30 children allocated who were given no school of their choice.

  
After allocation, there were 140* empty spaces in all, a just manageable 5.6% of the total thanks to a net outflow of 60 children. However,  more vacancies will be created through successful grammar school appeals and considerable churning will follow as the more popular schools refill.
 
There is now a sharp polarisation of popularity in Medway, with families clamouring for places in the three most popular schools, the three at the other end accepting 106 LAACs between them.
Published in News and Comments

See article in Kent on Sunday: 1st April 2017 

This article looks at the final outcomes of the Medway Test and its effect on individual grammar school allocations in March.

Last year I wrote an article exposing the failure by Medway Council to set the Medway Test pass mark correctly in 2015, and for some years previously, revealing the fact that some 70 Medway children were deprived of grammar school places by a miscalculation. This produced a success rate after Reviews were taken into account of just 23% for Medway children. Perhaps it was article that produced a change in practice and this year the success rate has risen to 25.1%, almost exactly the target level. However, just 25 Medway pupils were found selective after Review, as against a target of 68. There is yet again serious bias towards girls and older children.

The increase in the success rate has produced an extra 125 pupils eligible for grammar school (an increase in pupil numbers contributing to this) placing enormous pressure on the capacity of all Medway grammar schools, so that there are just 6 vacancies in just one school, in spite of an extra 70 grammar places being added.  

The headline figure for all secondary allocations, including non-selective schools, shows a seriously worsening picture, with a fall of over 5% in the proportion of Medway children being offered their first choice of school, and a near doubling of the number getting none of their choices from 77 to 145 children. According to Cabinet Member Martin Potter in a press release, “This is great news”! See my previous article for initial figures.

Most oversubscribed school is Rochester Grammar, turning away 87 grammar qualified first preferences even after expanding its intake by 25 girls. The pressure for grammar school places from children living in London Boroughs, with 64 being offered, continues as explained below. I also look more closely at individual grammar schools and the Medway Test analysis.

Published in News and Comments

Story as at Monday afternoon, 3rd October

Medway Council has failed to report this year's Medway Test results to parents correctly, causing considerable distress to families. You will find the full story below, but first, here is a statement by Medway Council giving the current situation for concerned families, published 12.30 Monday.  

MEDWAY TEST UPDATE: The total score and assessment outcomes published in Medway Test result letters is correct for all candidates, despite a publication error which led to the wrong extended writing score being printed in the letters to non-selective (non-grammar) pupils.

We worked as a matter of urgency to look into the Medway Test results after a figure was incorrectly published on non-selective (non-grammar) result letters. While individual scores published for maths, verbal reasoning and extended writing papers did not add up to the total score, the total score stated and the assessment outcome in the results letter is correct.

We have thoroughly rechecked the results and we will be re-issuing result letters today to those families affected with the correct figures, but this will not impact the total score or the assessment outcome for pupils. The deadline for review requests has been extended to 10am on Monday, 10 October, to give parents more time to prepare in acknowledgement of any uncertainty this has caused over the weekend.

We are sorry for the concern and confusion this may have caused parents at what is a very important time in their child's education.

Parents who would like further clarification on their child’s results can contact their school directly.

The story up to the release of the above statement at noon on Monday (updated to take account of it) 

Medway Council sent out wrong individual test scores for many children who sat the Medway Test last month. It appears this applies to all children who have not passed. It is clear from the many enquiries I have had, and the 4508 hits (by some way a record) on this page since I posted the first version of this article on Saturday evening, that there were many very distressed families left in limbo by this blunder.
Medway Council Logo

In summary,....

Published in News and Comments
Thursday, 29 September 2016 22:39

Medway Test and Secondary School Admissions

Medway Test results are sent out by email after 4 p.m. on Friday 30th September, or by post to arrive the next day. 

The Medway Test Pass Score is 513. Please note, as explained in my article 'Admission to Medway Grammar Schools' below, this does not mean the standard is any lower than last year's 521. The standard required is the same. The difference reflects the number of children taking the test And their abilities.

I run a Telephone Consultation Service to support and advise families living in Medway or Kent Local Authority areas, who are considering Review, looking at secondary school options, or thinking about chances of success at appeal, for schools in Kent or Medway Local Authorities.  

The pages of this website also contain much free information about each of these issues

You will find details of each of the possibilities via the links below, or to the right of this article. You may wish to start with the page on Can I help you?

Telephone Consultation Service

Medway Grammar School Review and Appeal

Admission to Medway Secondary Schools

Admission to Medway Grammar Schools

Individual Medway Secondary Schools. This contains information on each secondary school and academy. I am currently updating these pages. If the one you wish to consult is not up to date, please let me know and I will attend to it. 

These pages also contain links to pages providing comment and data relating to school admissions....

Published in News and Comments
The issues arising from an analysis of the results of the recent seriously flawed Medway Test for grammar school admission are even greater than last year, with:
A mistake in calculating the pass mark by Medway Council, according to their own rules - depriving 40 Medway children of grammar school places;
The Review process selecting fewer than half the number of children it is targeted to choose, because of insufficient quality of school work presented - another 30 children denied places;
Continued powerful bias towards girls and older children with 21% more girls than boys found suitable for grammar school. The highly unsatisfactory Review process selected fourteen Medway children born in the first quarter of the school year, compared to just one in the fourth quarter.
The Council excuse is that the process works as it all comes right in the end (it doesn’t)!
With the test and Review both being so biased towards girls and older children, and the inability of the Council to apply their own formula for calculating the pass mark, it is surely time for it to be replaced by a process that is fit for purpose.
The school with the highest percentage of pupils being found selective is St William of Perth Catholic Primary with 47%, followed remarkably by Temple Mill Primary with 42%.

For further information on all these headlines, read on…

Published in News and Comments

There has been an effective increase of 50 Reception places in Medway Primary schools for admission in 2015, although with an increase of 144 in the number of pupils admitted there is further pressure on spaces. However, my perception is that there are actually fewer issues this year, as parents have perhaps chosen more realistically and spread their preferences across a wider range of schools. Indeed, I reported earlier this year on the overall picture which saw more Medway children gaining their first choice than in 2014. Of course, none of this helps the 126 children who have been offered none of their choices, over a third of them in Strood.

Pressure is greatest overall in Rainham, with just 6 spaces in its 7 schools.

St Marys catholic Gillingahm       

Most popular school in Medway is St Mary’s Catholic Primary, turning away 32 first choices, followed by: Hilltop (29); Brompton-Westbrook and The Pilgrim both 25; Balfour Infants and St Margaret at Troy Town CofE, both 24, All Faiths Children Community (23); and Cliffe Woods (22).

All Hallows Primary Academy has 67% of its spaces empty, followed by the new Hundred of Hoo Primary Academy with 50%, Twydall Primary 32% and New Horizons Academy in Chatham with 30%.

You will find a picture of the 2014 situation here.

I look more closely at each district below....

Published in News and Comments
Page 1 of 2

Latest News & Comments

Just click on a news item below to read it in full. Feel free to subscribe to the news via the email link to the right or the RSS Feed at the bottom of the page. Please note that the 800 or so regular subscribers who receive each news item directly are not included in the number of readers recorded below the item. If you have a view on any item posted, please leave a comment. Also feel free to suggest items of news, or areas where comment is needed to: peter@kentadvice.co.uk. \nNews items appear as and when I have time in a very busy schedule supporting clients.

  • Fort Pitt, Holcombe and Rochester Grammar Schools: Schools Adjudicator Rejects Admission Criteria as Unlawful

    The Schools Adjudicator, responsible for deciding on school admission policy disputes, has ruled that the determined admission arrangements for 2019 for these three schools are in breach of the Schools Admissions Code and ordered them to be changed. This will ensure that the new rules are fairer to local children or, in the case of The Rochester Grammar School, that more appropriately qualified girls are admitted.

    Three other schools acknowledged the validity of my complaint at an early stage and withdrew their proposals. These were: Brompton Academy, Hundred of Hoo Academy and Sir Joseph Williamson’s Mathematical School.

    Medway Council, with oversight of school admission rules published on its website, neither took action to block the unlawful proposals (if indeed they noticed them), nor bothered to express a view on their legality to the Schools Adjudicator when invited. There has been just one complaint about a Kent school's proposals since 2012 (relating to In-Year Admissions), as KCC monitors proposed changes. 

    To look at the decisions in detail follow the links: Fort Pitt; Holcombe Grammar; The Rochester Grammar, with my analysis below.

    Read more...
    Written on Thursday, 13 September 2018 20:15 4 comments Read 2739 times
  • Academy News: September 2018

    I am afraid this regular update is well overdue because of pressures elsewhere. I will be publishing a second article shortly (I hope) but this one is primarily about new and proposed academies and the increasing practice of re-assigning academies to other Trusts when there has been a break down of performance in some way. 

    Panorama, 10th September: Financial Mismanagement in Academy Trusts
    This is a subject that I have explored many times in these pages, most commonly in the scandal of Lilac Sky Academy Trust and more recently with The SchoolsCompany Academy Trust. I have enclosed a comment outlining the issues with the two Trusts at the foot of this page. 

    Another ten schools have become academies this year, bringing the Kent total to 89% out of 101 secondary schools including applications in progress, and 37% of 456 primaries. In Medway 16 out of 17 secondary schools and 54 of the 79 primaries are academies. You will find all the latest conversions below, along with new applications to become academies, and a full list of Kent and Medway academies here.

    The number of Multi Academy Trusts continues to proliferate, some with ever more exotic names; you will find a full list of Kent and Medway Trusts here.

    Read more...
    Written on Monday, 10 September 2018 23:42 Be the first to comment! Read 295 times
  • Private Schools Coaching for Grammar Entrance

    This is an updated and revised version of a story I wrote as the events below unfolded 

    The BBC excitedly revealed the results of ‘an exclusive undercover investigation’ on Monday last. This had discovered to no one’s surprise that private schools depending on a high rate of pupils securing grammar school places for their existence prepare those pupils for the Kent Test. You will find on the BBC website here a much watered down version of the original headline grabbing, anti-grammar school story which dominated the channel and Radio Kent for two days leading up to the Kent Test. The programme was followed the next day by another ‘lead story’ which also recycled and expanded on remarks by Robert Halfon, MP and Chairman of the Government Select Committee on Education, several months earlier but presented as breaking news. This also criticised KCC for creating ‘confusion’ by not knowing how a Review it had commissioned into coaching would turn out! 

    The two BBC employees who have taken the trouble to express their great unhappiness about the story to me confidentially, are completely in the right. The new anodyne website version which completely loses the initial hysteria is surely an implicit acknowledgement of the error of judgement.  

    The BBC 'revelation’ about private school coaching can hardly come as news to anyone who has had dealings with or enquired about admissions to private primary schools for possible entry over the past decade or so. Many of these schools owe their existence to their ‘success rate’ in seeing pupils secure places at grammar schools, whether or not they contributed to it. They will charge families up to £10,000 p.a. to maximise chances, advertising their achievements through websites and in the media .

    It is most unfortunate that the BBC item was published this week in particular, attracting a large amount of media coverage in the run up to Thursday’s Kent Test. For it, and the subsequent media comment swirling around about grammar school matters in general, would have been an unnecessary distraction for many of the families whose children sat the test.

    Read more...
    Written on Tuesday, 04 September 2018 09:50 2 comments Read 467 times
  • Paul Carter and Grammar School Numbers

    Revised 1st September

    Paul Carter, Leader of KCC had an important interview with The Times published on Monday, along with commentary by the newspaper which can be found here.  He expresses concern that the proportion of pupils admitted to Kent’s 32 grammar schools has risen to well over the 25% target set by the Council, which risks weaken­ing the specialist purpose of grammar schools and is damaging to non-select­ive schools nearby, diluting the quality of their intake. This is down primarily to the operation of the school admission appeals process in some schools, the expansion of planned grammar school places not keeping pace with the general rise in numbers of the school population.

     I have written my own analysis of the situation earlier this year, but went further and explored the reasons why the proportion of Year 7 Kent grammar school pupils had risen to 31.7% from 30.3% between 2012 and 2017, and why it was in any case above 25%.

    Paul’s article, whilst showing unhappiness about the situation, identifies his own reasons for the increased proportion but gives no indication there is an appetite to wind back the proportion of children going on to grammar school. Indeed, I don’t believe that with the loss of control by KCC to individual academies this would be possible.

    Read more...
    Written on Thursday, 30 August 2018 20:12 Be the first to comment! Read 417 times
  • Falling Rolls,Year 10 through to GCSE

    On Tuesday, The Times newspaper headlined a story about schools removing pupils or encouraging them to leave in the run up to GCSE, followed by two pages of analysis inside the paper. This is an issue I have followed closely in recent years, mainly from the viewpoint of numbers of children being Home Educated and Permanently Excluded, most recently here.

    Medway UTC 1


    This article explores schools where the roll has fallen way above the norm over this period. On average 2% of Kent children leave mainstream schools in Years 10 and 11, and 4% in Medway, raising the question of why this should happen at all. Surprisingly, the schools losing the most pupils are generally different between 2016-17 and 2017-18, suggesting that none have a consistent policy to remove pupils unlikely to do well before GCSE, although several have extremely high levels of ‘Elective’ Home Education. This is contrary to the examples given in The Times.

    For the cohort taking GCSE in 2018, the five biggest losses of pupils were: were: Medway UTC 25%; New Line Learning and Victory (Medway) Academies 13%; Oasis Isle of Sheppey Academy 10% and Robert Napier School (Medway) 9% the only school to appear in the lists for both years. In 2017 they were: Orchards Academy 17%; Brompton and Strood Academies (both Medway) 12%; Ebbsfleet Academy and Thamesview School 11%. In all cases that is three or more pupils on average from every class. Below I give a fuller list for each year.

    Read more...
    Written on Tuesday, 28 August 2018 16:38 1 comment Read 295 times
  • GCSE Results and Admission to Sixth Forms

    GCSE results out yesterday have provided considerable speculation as to the effect of the changes. What follows is a very personal view, parts of which were shared in an interview on ITV Meridian last evening. I conclude with a brief consideration of applications to school Sixth Form courses, also looking at certain illegal practices, amazingly including further malpractice at Maidstone Grammar School for Girls.

    It is my opinion, shared  by many others, that GCSE students are the victims of yet another of a series of pointless changes. These appear to me to have no virtue whatever, as explained below. However, whatever has been thrown at them, my congratulations go out to those that have achieved their aims at GCSE and my commiserations to those who have not.

    Sadly, the latest changes are yet another massage of GCSE structure and assessment methods to enable the latest in a line of governments to try and convince us that something is being done to improve standards.

    Read more...
    Written on Friday, 24 August 2018 23:17 1 comment Read 529 times