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News & Comments - Kent Independent Education Advice

News and Comments

The latest news posted by Peter J Read; 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 over 800 regular subscribers who receive each news item directly are not included in the number of readers recorded below the item, who have gone beyond the headlines to look at the full article.  If you have a view on any item posted, please leave a comment.

Please feel free to suggest items of news, or areas where comment is needed to:

News items below appear below as and when I have time in a very busy schedule supporting clients.
Sunday, 17 April 2016 17:42

Kent and Medway Primary Allocations 2016

Kent County Council will rightly celebrate the primary school allocation figures below, sent out today. For even with an additional 591 Kent children in the system above 2015’s figure, the number of children being offered their first choice school has leapt up by 762 to 87.2% of the total number of applications , a record over at least the past six years. In addition, whilst the number of children offered no school of their choice fell to 606, down by 118, also down for the second consecutive year, to 3.4%, again the lowest figure for at least six years.

Medway Council (Serving You) as usual has sent out an opaque press release on allocation and I have had to best guess the figures in the table below. Although the number of Medway resident applications has increased by just 10 children to 3533, the percentage being offered one of their choices has fallen from 96.4% to less than 96% (historically this suggests 95.75% or lower), whilst the percentage of first choices has remained around the same at around 87.1%, with a slight increase in numbers also around 10 children. However, approximately 150 children with none of their six choices looks to be the highest for many years.

I will publish further details on oversubscription and vacancies at Reception Level and at Junior schools when I receive them in the next few weeks, but you can see a flavour of the situation from my 2015 article on Kent oversubscription and vacancies here, and for Medway here.

The continuation below begins with some advice on next steps if you have not received the school of your choice....

Saturday, 09 April 2016 07:47

Academy & Free School News, April 2016

Seven new primary school academy proposals; compulsory academisation; two new secondary Free Schools announced on site of Chaucer Technology College and in Thanet; academy takeovers of Community College Whitstable and the Charles Dickens School, Broadstairs; plans unveiled for mixed Sixth Form at Sevenoaks Annex; Hoo Peninsula to become first local area to become academies only, creating a squeeze on secondary school options; failure of Medway’s first Free School - Inspire Special Free School, and other sponsors; proposed new primary academy or free school in Paddock Wood; update on Whitehill Primary School – it has been a busy period…..

You will find the initial Medway Secondary school allocation figures here, showing that 84.3% of Medway children were offered places at their first choice school, with just 2.6%, or 77 children, offered none of their six choices, these being allocated a local school by Medway Council. I have also prepared parallel articles on oversubscription and vacancies for Kent grammar and non-selective schools.  I now have more detailed information showing that the most popular school in Medway by far was Brompton Academy, which turned away 108 first preferences, followed by Sir Joseph Williamson’s Mathematical School with 42.

     Brompton Academy              SJWMS1              

 The Victory Academy has most vacancies, 110 on allocation, twice as many as the next school, Chatham Grammar Girls’ with 55.

158 of the 197 children from outside Medway taking up places in local schools at this stage come from Kent, with 113 of these taking up places in Medway Grammar schools, 48 at The Rochester Grammar School. 140 of the 142 Medway children going out county are taking up places at Kent schools, mainly non-selective. 

As well as further details below, I look at the implications of these figures on the decision to turn Chatham Grammar School for Boys into a co-educational school from September 2017.

This article looks across Kent to the key oversubscription and vacancy situations in non-selective schools District by District. Thanet with its six schools (after Marlowe Academy was closed last year) is probably the area under most pressure, containing the most oversubscribed school in the county, St George’s CofE Foundation School in Broadstairs, turning away 161 first choices, just 14 spaces in one school, and 113 children allocated to a school not on their list, nearly a quarter of the total Local Authority allocations in Kent. St George’s CofE school in Gravesham comes second being 123 first choices oversubscribed in another pressure District along with Dartford, although successful Grammar school appeals will ease the pressures over the next few months.

St Georges Foundation

St Georges 3 

At the other end of the scale, Dover District has a quarter of its spaces vacant and five schools in the county have over a third of their places vacant.

Kent has seen an extra 627 net places put into its non-selective schools, above the numbers planned for admission this year, and 460 more than the final figure in 2015, to meet rising rolls in several areas, biggest expansion being in Tunbridge Wells with an additional 121 places being pumped in.

As a result, the number of pupils offered their first choice rose by 363, and the number being offered none of their four choices fell by 213 children to just 428, the lowest figure for some years. However, this made little difference to the pressure on popular schools which has never been greater.

I look at individual schools below, mixed in with various news items, and you will find my previous article on allocations published at the beginning of March here. You will find an article describing the grammar school situation below, with Medway here. You will find 2015 non-selective data here.

This article looks across Kent to the key oversubscription and vacancy situations in grammar schools. Main pressure points are in West and North West Kent, led by Dartford Grammar, 226 first choice applications oversubscribed,  followed by the three West Kent super selectives and Dartford Grammar School for Girls. There is then a sharp fall to the next most popular school, Wilmington Grammar School for Boys but still at 49 first choices rejected. At the other end of the scale, ten grammar schools have vacancies on allocation. Medway schools here

dgs          togs

Kent has seen an extra 91 net places put into its grammar schools, above the numbers planned for admission this year, and 244 more than in 2015, to meet rising rolls in several areas.

I look at individual schools below, and you will find my previous article on allocations published at the beginning of March here, and for 2015 here. Non-selective schools here.

As I was preparing to publish this article, local academy news is overtaken by the ideological decision to force all schools in England to have converted or started on the route to become academies by 2020.  Whilst I normally confined myself to matters relating only to Kent and Medway on this website, the impact of this appalling decision on local schools is such that I have added a couple of paragraphs at the foot of the page.

As the conversion rate to academise has reduced to a trickle before this news, there are just two new Academies for February, Manor Community Primary School, Dartford, and Twydall Primary School in Gillingham, the latter having finally seen its future settled as it has been sponsored by Rainham Mark Grammar School after a very difficult failed take-over attempt by the Learning Schools Academy Trust.

There are several new converter applications: Simon Langton Girls Grammar; Upton Junior, Broadstairs; Temple Hill and Oakfield Primaries, Dartford.

News below about: two new build primary academies; Maidstone School of Science and Technology (or rather lack of news!); Castle Community College; Cranbrook School; Chatham Grammar School for Boys; Royal Harbour Academy (not an academy) and the Coastal Academies Trust; and a new 11-14 extension (or is it?) to Leigh University Technical College.  

Update News: You can now find many more details at Kent Grammar School Allocations and Kent Non-Selective School Allocations. Medway school details to arrive shortly.  

The good news in Kent is that the number of first choices in Kent secondary schools, awarded to local children, has risen to 13,159, that is 81.4% of the total applications, up from 80.5% in 2015; and the number of children with none of their four choices has fallen  sharply to 428, a proportion of 2.7% of the total, from 4.0% in 2015. All of this with the number of Kent children making applications rising by 176 to 16,172. This has been achieved by KCC and schools working together to create 704 places additional to those planned for this September, 244  extra places in grammar schools and 460 in non-selective schools. There are full details of these additional places below, which give a good guide to the pressures in various areas.  

In Medway, the picture is even better, this time helped by a fall in the number of Medway children being placed in Medway schools by nearly 90 (or have more gone into Kent?). Partly as a result of this fall, the proportion of first choices offered has shot up to 84.3% from 80.7%, the proportion offered none of their six choices almost halving to 2.6%, or 77 children, from 5.0% last year, that having been the highest for many years.   
As well as more information, and the tables of outcomes below, you will find initial advice on what to do if you have not been offered the school of your choice, beginning as always with my Corporal Jones mantra, do NOTHING in panic! There is no quick fix. 
Below you can also find: further data; super selective cut offs; detail on pressures on some individual schools and change of admission criteria;detail of the 704 additional places added in Kent schools. 

Kent County Council has set up a Select Committee of County Councillors to explore social mobility in its Grammar Schools, adopting the principle that children from all backgrounds must have the same opportunities to flourish and succeed within the education system.

A Kent Messenger report on the first day’s proceedings, notes that: Mr Patrick Leeson, Kent’s Education Director talking about the achievement gap between poorer pupils and those without disadvantage, stated: “We have seen some movement in narrowing the gap but it is minute. Greater social mobility will only come about if the whole school system does better for children on free school meals.”

Of the 1,435 children on free school meals who sat the eleven plus in 2014, just 292 - about 8% - passed. The number of children on free school meals attending Kent grammar schools remains low at 3%, compared with 13% in non-selective schools, according to KCC data, although see further detail below.

However, good news was that those children from less well-off backgrounds who went to a grammar school did almost as well in their GCSE exams as others, with a gap of just 2% in the 5 A-C* plus maths and English success rate....

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