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Monday, 26 March 2018 04:03

Oversubscription and Vacancies in Kent Grammar Schools on Allocation for 2018

 Article looking at Kent Non-selective schools to follow. Medway Grammar Schools here

The number of Kent grammar school places available for Year 7 pupils has risen by 236 since last year to 5449, with a total increase of 717 over the past five years. There are currently just 184 empty spaces for September, in eight grammar schools including three of the four Maidstone grammars.

465 of the 5265 Kent grammar school places offered, or 9% of the total, went to pupils from outside of the county (ooc), with 152 pupils going to out of county grammars, mainly in Medway. 251 pupils coming in, over half the total, were offered places at the four Dartford grammar schools. As a result, the pressure on places at these four schools continues inexorably, led by Dartford Grammar School with a record 313 grammar qualified first choices turned away, up from 257 last year. The next most popular schools were unsurprisingly Dartford Girls, The Judd School, and Tonbridge Grammar.

dgs        dggs 2

As far as I am aware there are just two black spots for grammar school applications, firstly the district of Hartley and New Ash Green in NW Kent where at least a dozen boys have been offered no grammar school place, although most applied for two or three of the local schools. Secondly parts of Whitstable and Herne Bay, where again some boys have not been offered any of their three nearest grammar schools.

I look at the outcomes below in more detail, including levels of oversubscription, vacancies and a look at each school, by district.

You will find an initial article on allocation here, that also provides cut off scores for the super selective schools, and also the 2017 equivalent articleYou will also find further information on Individual Secondary Schools here,  the pages currently being updated, as some are very out of date. 

The most oversubscribed school by grammar qualified first choices is Dartford Grammar turning away 313 boys. Whilst the school has topped this list for some years, this is over fifty more disappointed applicants than ever before, the overwhelming majority of whom stand no chance off the waiting list or at appeal.
The full list of those schools oversubscribed by more than 20 first choices follows. This pattern will change following re-allocation in coming months, and successful appeals can change the picture significantly, as schools admit additional pupils, in some cases drawing them from others.
The number of places offered may be above the published Planned Admission Number (PAN), where the school or Local Authority has made a decision to raise the intake having seen demand. This can have a negative impact on a neighbouring school. 
Dartford  180 313  83
Dartford Girls  180  153  69 
Judd 180  125 15
Tonbridge  180 103  30 
Wilmington Boys 150 77 30
Skinners  150 70  53
Simon Langton Boys 120 65 0
Wilmington Girls 150 60 69
Queen Elizabeth's 140 44 0
Weald of Kent 295 27 32
Gravesend  174 23 8
Tunbridge Wells Girls 145 22 0
Note *  ooc - Out of County You will find the comparative data for 2017 admission here. 
There were just eight grammar schools with vacancies on allocation, all of the five with more than ten empty spaces at this stage having a history of seeing high number of appeals from non-selective children upheld. The total at this stage is 184 places unfilled, the lowest figure in recent years (240 in 2017). Most of these will vanish after appeals and late applications.



Norton Knatchbull 210 56 40 26
Oakwood Park 160  41  96  78
Maidstone Girls 180  31 76 53
Invicta  240 25  65  58
Simon Langton Girls 165 19 44 36

 Please note that whilst the 2017 appeal pattern may be a guide to the 2018 outcomes, there are often considerable swings from year to year.

Note to Browsers of 11 Plus Exams Forum
As in previous years, I have no problem with your quoting data from this article on your forum. However, as all reference to  is banned from the site, please provide an oblique acknowledgement

 Individual School Survey

 North West Kent
The ever increasing popularity of the super selective Dartford Grammar is driven by its easy access from SE London, cutting out large numbers of local boys who failed to achieve the ‘inner’ required aggregate score of 358 against a Kent Test pass level of 320, and well above 2017’s 340. 83 of the school’s 180 places went to high scoring out of county boys -just short of half the 180 places available. Chances of success at appeal for Dartford Grammar are again likely to be very low, with just three successful appeals last year. That very high number of first choices turned down suggests there will be little movement on the waiting list. A total of 976 applicants for the school were not offered places.
The knock on effect of this drive for exclusivity follows right along the Thames coast to Chatham, as boys are displaced locally. 
Wilmington Grammar Boys has given priority to local boys for several years, and saw 77 first choices rejected this year, a steadily rising number, again generated from London, but also this year seeing some boys from local villages losing out. It also gives a priority to siblings and siblings of pupils at Wilmington Girls, partly explaining the number of ooc boys still being offered places at the school.
Gravesend Grammar has see-sawed its PAN back up to 174 from 150 following an exceptional number of local boys who passed the Kent Test. This explains the remarkably small number of ooc boys compared with the 45 of 222017. I suspect most of these are siblings of boys already at the school.
This increase in pressure at the three schools has combined to cause problems for grammar qualified boys in Hartley and New Ash Green, where at least a dozen have no grammar school out of their three possibilities. As there is no other local grammar school with vacancies, most have been offered places at the unpopular non-selective Ebbsfleet Academy, the remainder at Meopham. Other displaced boys will have been offered places at Holcombe Grammar in Chatham.
The pattern for the girls’ grammars is very similar but far less severe, Dartford Girls having started chasing London pupils a few years ago. Appears less competitive for 2018, but it will hardly show.  Wilmington Girls changed two years ago to give priority mainly to local girls but still has a large number of London siblings working through from previous years.   Mayfield Grammar in Gravesend, also admits girls through its own Test, with 21 being offered places who did not pass the Kent Test.
West Kent
The super selective Judd School has regained its position as the most oversubscribed West Kent grammar in spite of adding 25 places to bring it up to an intake of 180 boys. Clearly the decision to give priority to local boys apart from 23 very high scorers, 15 of them ooc, has proved very popular. 
It is not clear why Skinners School has gone in the opposite direction, but there has been a fall of over 50% in the number of unsuccessful first choice applicants, with an increase of just 5 places to ease the pressure. 53 of its places went to ooc boys. The 2019 admission pattern will be very interesting as Skinners also now plans to give priority to local boys.
The pressure on boys' places for 2018 has been eased by Tunbridge Wells Grammar School for Boys offering an additional 60 places for this year, taking it to an intake of 240. It is still oversubscribed turning some first choices away, probably ooc, although half its places have gone to boys who placed it second or third, presumably behind one or both of the two super selectives.
The second year of the new annexe of Weald of Kent Grammar at Sevenoaks has also seen the school expand by a further 30 places to offer places to 295 girls. This appears to have been at the expense of Tonbridge Grammar School, and underlines the importance of making further grammar school provision for boys at the annexe site, or elsewhere. TWGSB surely cannot accept another 60 boys every year, although there will be some loss as always happens in West Kent, sometimes to the private sector, or else to a preferred school through waiting lists or appeals.
Tunbridge Wells Girls Grammar has chosen to increase its intake by five to 145 this year, and with its appeal panel historically never increasing the total to 150, success at appeal is likely to be very tight this year.
Maidstone and Ashford
Maidstone Grammar is the only one of the six grammar schools to be oversubscribed for 2018, with just 11 first choices turned away, much smaller than previous years since it expanded to seven forms of entry in 2017.
Norton Knatchbull School in Ashford, which has a natural intake of around 150 boys, increased its PAN to 180 last year, and bizarrely has gone even further to 210 for 2018 entry. This leaves it with 56 places unfilled, perhaps sending out an indicator that appeals this year are going to be easier than 2017’s 65% success rate, but still considerably lower than the three Maidstone schools on the vacancies list (county average grammar appeal success rate is 38%).
Highworth Grammar, also in Ashford, has expanded its provision by 36 places, again to 210 (perhaps NKS is following in its footsteps) and has filled all but two of them.
Invicta Grammar has chosen to expand even further, by 48 places to 240. The Sixth form expulsion scandal does not appear to have touched its popularity for younger girls. Traditionally it takes in a very high proportion of girls on appeal, last year hitting a record of 89% for a grammar school in the county, has a high record of success at GCSE, but then sees a large number leave immediately afterwards.
Maidstone Girls’ Grammar, which has rivalled Invicta in previous years under an earlier headteacher, also had its own sixth form admissions scandal and, whilst the number of places offered remains very low for a school that used to fill each year, it has risen from the 2017 low of 138 places offered. A similar pattern on appeals to Invicta, with high appeal success, but high leaving pattern at the end of GCSE.
Oakwood Park suffered badly from the Maidstone Grammar expansion last year, but is recovering well from that low of just 95 places offered in 2017, with 119 for 2018. As with the two girls' grammars, the success rate at appeal is traditionally very high.
Folkestone and Dover
All four grammar schools set local tests, success at which offers an alternative route for qualification to the Kent Test. They were all slightly oversubscribed with first choices as a result. Dover Boys made 100 of its 150 offers via the own Test route, having increased its intake by 30 places to 150,from 2017; Dover Girls - 80 local test offers out of 140: Folkestone School for Girls - 70 out of 180; and Harvey Grammar - 68 out of 150.
East Kent
I consider all these schools together, as there is considerable movement between the geographical areas.
The big pressure area is Simon Langton Boys in Canterbury, which has developed a strong reputation through its nationally acclaimed science and space curriculum and activities. Its 65 first preference oversubscription for 120 places is by some way the highest outside the pressure points in the West of the county. It offers priority to pupils scoring above 340 aggregate in the Kent Test, and all successful applicants reached this score, with 32 more turned away. There are never more than eight successful appeals, almost always to boys who have passed the Kent Test but live outside the cut off area, notably in the Whitstable/Herne Bay area.
The other grammar school accessible to Canterbury and District boys who have not reached the higher cut off, is the mixed Barton Court. The school, 13 first choices oversubscribed for its 150 places has a high figure of 39 second and third choices offered, all likely to be boys who failed to gain access to Simon Langton. The school has a history of being keen to expand, especially to meet demand in Whitstable and Herne Boy, most recently here. Just 18% of appeals were upheld last year.
Simon Langton Girls was mired in scandal for several years, seeing admissions drop sharply, but is now through this and is managed by the Boys school. For 2018 had just 19 spaces on allocation in March, a great improvement on previous years. This is another school with a very high success rate at appeal in the past, for 2017 82%, all of girls who had been unsuccessful in the Kent Test.
Queen Elizabeth’s in Faversham is the other heavily oversubscribed grammar in the East of the county, drawing applications from Whitstable/Herne Bay, as well as towards Sittingbourne and Canterbury. Usually sees up to ten appeals upheld.
Borden and Highsted grammar schools in Sittingbourne, usually just about fill, although Highsted this year has increased its intake by 30 girls to 150, having admitted 35 through its own test. Some pupils from the area look to places at Queen Elizabeth's.
The east coast of Kent has the distinction that all three grammar schools are co-educational, all of which are full: Sir Roger Manwoods (oversubscribed by 13 first choices, with a PAN of 150), Dane Court (6, having increased its intake by 10 pupils to 175) and Chatham & Clarendon (just filled, having increased its intake by 10 pupils to 190). Chatham and Clarendon will have made offers to some boys from Herne Bay who did not get Canterbury or Faversham places. Not strictly relevant, but on allocation every secondary school in the area was full.
Last modified on Friday, 27 March 2020 16:36


  • Comment Link Friday, 29 March 2019 11:35 posted by Sarah Makewell

    Hi Peter, is it possible to find out how many appeals have been submitted to a particular school for 2019 entry following closing date and ahead of panel? Will they simply tell you if you ask? thanks, PETER: It is entirely up[ to the school. Some will, some won't.

  • Comment Link Thursday, 28 March 2019 08:21 posted by BH

    Are you going to produce something similar for 2019 entry please Peter? PETER: Its been held up through late provision of data by KCC, but on the way.

  • Comment Link Friday, 13 July 2018 17:09 posted by Roger

    Hi there

    I would like to gain an idea of the % of year 6 pupils going to a Maidstone Grammar School from a Maidstone Primary School in 2016 and 2017.

    Is this possible? PETER: Most unlikely, too many variables. For 2017 entry: Maidstone Kent Test passes 25%; Do you want town or LEA District passes; exactly 100 successful appeals for the four grammar schools; 36% of children in Maidstone schools in grammar schools; how many in Maidstone grammars from outside Maidstone; how many Maidstone children in out of Maidstone schools or private schools. You could try an FOI to each school to discover how many from each primary school - but what is the point? It will tell you nothing that will help decision making!

  • Comment Link Monday, 02 April 2018 22:52 posted by Robert Delaney

    Thank you for this Peter. Very informative, reliable and objective, and the only source of such information in the county. I venture to suggest there is nothing like it in the country. Just one question, why do you do it as I can see nothing in this for you? PETER: Thanks for the appreciation. I do it because I believe families are entitled to know the facts to understand what is going on and to help make decisions. As it happens, many professional educators also follow this site.

  • Comment Link Monday, 02 April 2018 22:46 posted by Folkestone non-selective school teacher

    So with half of all the grammar school places in Dover and Folkestone going to children who did not pass the Kent Test, what chance do the non-selective schools stand to achieve satisfactory GCSE results? PETER: Good point, but with just three of the five non-selective schools in the top half of the Progress 8 table, although just one in the top half of Attainment 8, clearly most of these schools are doing their best for the children. There is a major problem in that Ofsted does not take such factors into consideration

  • Comment Link Wednesday, 28 March 2018 23:26 posted by Sheila Johnson

    Excellent Website, sadly explaining the problem of Herne Bay. No one else has been able to explain why we have been shunted off to Ramsgate. PETER: If you have applied for Barton Court you may be in with a chance off the waiting list or at appeal. Thanks for comment.

  • Comment Link Wednesday, 28 March 2018 18:51 posted by Hartley Parent with no grammar place

    So are you saying that if the Dartford Grammars also gave priority to Kent children in our selective system designed for just that, there would be sufficient places to go round? PETER: Yes. However here is also a grammar boys' crisis coming in West Kent, eased by Judd's giving priority to Kent boys for most of its places. It will ease further next year, when Skinners also comes on stream, but the reality is that West Kent needs the all through school lost to Tunbridge Wells, along with permanent new grammar provision.

  • Comment Link Wednesday, 28 March 2018 18:24 posted by Jessica T

    Thank you so much Peter. Where else in the county or indeed the country would I find such a comprehensive and objective survey of school provision? Unfortunately, I am waiting for the non-selective version to find out what is happening in Thanet, where my daughter has been rejected at all her four choices. Certainly, no one else is going to spell out the situation as I expect you to. PETER: Sorry, there is too much to analyse and too much else to do to get it out any faster, but it is on its way.

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