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Thursday, 29 March 2018 06:02

Oversubscription and Vacancies in Kent Non-Selective Schools on Allocation for 2018


92% of pupils offered places in Kent non-selective schools for September 2018 were given their first choice school on allocation in March. 44 of the 46 schools were full, although this figure will fall after successful grammar school appeals see some of the pupils pull out leading to considerable churning. Just 6% of the places available were left vacant, a fall every year since 2014’s 11% at this stage, the 543 new places since last year not having kept pace with the rise in pupil numbers.

St Georges Foundation       Valley 2

In some ways, the picture looks similar, although tighter, than 2017 with Thanet again having no non-selective places empty on allocation and two of the four most oversubscribed schools in the county: St George’s CofE Foundation School with 196 first choices turned away, and King Ethelbert’s School with 139. They are separated by Valley Park in Maidstone with 183 and Fulston Manor in Sittingbourne with 157. Shepway and Sevenoaks also have no vacancies in their schools, with five Local Authorities having spaces in just one school: Canterbury; Dartford; Gravesham; Swale; and Tunbridge Wells. All these situations still look critical for future years,  even though there are three new secondary schools in the pipeline.

Tunbridge Wells looks especially challenging, with KCC appearing to have little idea of where much needed extra places are coming from over the next three years, This in a town where over two thirds of places go to children from faith families, and some 80 are sent to schools in neighbouring towns, most with a 30 mile round trip!

 The number of Local Authority Allocations (LAA), children who had been given no school of their choice being placed in schools with vacancies by KCC, has risen by 12% to 739.

Seven schools would have more than a third of their places empty, but for the large numbers of LAAs as vacant spaces elsewhere dry up. They are headed up by: High Weald Academy, 64% spaces; New Line Learning Academy, 54%; and Oasis Academy Sheppey, with 43%

I look more closely at the most oversubscribed schools and those with most vacancies below, together with the situation in each District, along with the impact of out of county applications.

This annual survey of Kent non-selective places is the second largest article I produce each year (the largest is the parallel survey of primary school allocations. I am happy to accept there may be corrections or expansions needed, together with helpful comments, which I will incorporate if these are pointed out. 

 It is important for families to appreciate there is considerable churning in some areas between now and September, as appeals (especially to grammar schools) and to more popular non-selective schools, play a major part in seeing movement in waiting lists.

You will find my initial and more general thoughts here, and the parallel article on grammar schools here. I look at individual Districts further down the article, with direct links at:
The pattern looks very similar to that of 2017, apart from the large increase in popularity of Brockhill, and the arrival of Trinity, Hadlow, Malling and Meopham. In some cases, it is not that these schools are popular in themselves, but reflect families trying to avoid other less palatable options. I can see the latter factor playing a part in the presence of at least ten of these schools. Some of the 543 extra places have been commissioned by KCC at key pressure points, such as the 60 at each of St Gregory’s and Bennett Memorial (still 49 oversubscribed), and Malling (21), but others are the decisions of the schools themselves, such as at Valley Park (30).
St George's CofE
Foundation (Broadstairs)
 217 196 164 11
Valley Park 270 183 47 6
Fulston Manor 210 157 47 6
King Ethelbert  150 139  40 4
Brockhill Park 235 134 14 1
Westlands  285 92 30 11
Skinners Kent Academy 180 86 28 8
Trinity School 180 81 5 5
Maplesden Noakes 210 80 34 13
St Anselm's Catholic 190 79 14 11
 Hadlow Rural 75 66 15 3
Charles Dickens 232 64 27 5
St Gregory's Catholic 240 58 11 7
Malling 180 57 0 0
St John's Catholic 195 56 0 0
Meopham 140 55 0 0
St George's CE
210 51 6 0
And a further nine schools with more than 20 first choices oversubscribed

Note: The appeal data should not be taken as more than a rough guide, as school situations can change from year to year; for example the rapid increase in popularity at Malling and Meopham, see below.

The shortage of places all round has led to a large increase in LAAs, which may have saved some schools from financial disaster. However, many of these families will be working hard to find an alternative. So for example, for 2017 entry, Royal Harbour Academy had 89 allocations to take it to 231 places offered, but only 181 turned up.
Ebbsfleet Academy appears nearly full on allocation, but 67 of the 147 places offered are LAAs, with every other Dartford school full of children who have chosen them, and all but one oversubscribed with first choices
High Weald 150  86  40 64% 32
New Line Learning 210 177  85 54% 80
Ebbsfleet Academy 150 147  69 47% 67
Hartsdown Academy 180 180  51 47% 85
Oasis Isle of Sheppey 390 291 167 43% 70
Holmesdale School 180 128 75 41% 22
Hayesbrook School 151 150  56 38% 57

This table includes all schools with an initial vacancy rate of over a third. 

Out of County
366 out of county children have been offered places in Kent non-selective schools, with 291 going the other way.
The main traffic is between: Medway (104 in, 22 out); Bromley (89 in, 15 out); East Sussex (81 in, 129 out); Bexley (66 in, 63 out); and Surrey (1 in, 68 out).

From Medway it is to mainly to Aylesford, Holmesdale, Malling and Meopham. From Bromley to Knole Academy, with a few to Trinity (presumably on religious grounds) and Orchards. East Sussex to Homewood, Bennett Memorial and St Gregory’s; out to Beacon and Uplands (close to Tunbridge Wells) and Rye and Robertsbridge (to the south); Bexley all Dartford traffic both ways; and Surrey to Oxted School.


 1178 2 34 3 27
Canterbury 1165 1 41 4 56
Dartford 1128 1 3 0 68
Dover  950 1 46 4 71
Gravesham 1099 1 9 1 120
Maidstone 1435 3 103 7 102
Sevenoaks 540 0 0 0 24
Shepway 685 0 0 0 0
Swale 1365 1 99 7 70
Thanet 1158 0 0 0 135
Tunbridge & Malling 1316 4 59 4 133
Tunbridge Wells 1080 1 64 6 32

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Last modified on Thursday, 03 October 2019 19:53


  • Comment Link Tuesday, 24 April 2018 15:39 posted by Rallie

    Hi. We have just purchased a house in TW and were advised by KCC that all 3 non selective schools are full. We are not church goers so in effect we can apply only to Skinner's Kent Academy through the in year school application process. Is there a chance in getting there ? What other realistic options have we got? Peter: Go to, Tunbridge Wells section on Page 5, for an understanding of the crisis in places. As an in year applicant, you may stand a better chance at appeal than those looking for Year 7 places. This also suggests looking to East Sussex, but I think you will also stand a chance at Hillview. You have the right to apply to as many schools individually as you like, and also appeal to as many as you wish. Schools will not know of the alternatives you are chasing. This is a mess I am afraid and getting worse with every family moving out of London to TW.

  • Comment Link Saturday, 07 April 2018 10:42 posted by Kath

    We live just north of Canterbury and have been allocated Whitstable Community College, along with 21 others who did not apply for it. What are our chances of getting out of the school. PETER: There will be movement if Simon Langton Girls offers a large number on appeal as is usual. Herne Bay, waiting list may be your best chance, nine out of 25 appeals successful. Canterbury Academy usually takes all who persevere, but the change of head may see this change also. Otherwise, I am afraid you have to hope the school will improve.

  • Comment Link Saturday, 07 April 2018 00:55 posted by Miss O

    My eldest child attends Oasis Academy I have tried to move her to no avail so I was adamant to get her sibling into a different school which thankfully I have. The Academy has nearly 100 vacancies yet again for September, GCSE pass rate is poor 11% in English and Maths and numbers of Parents removing their children is staggering .. Why is no one investigating this from what I have researched it's one of the few schools in the country that has been in 'Requires Improvement' for so long. PETER: I am so sorry for you. We can only keep pressing, but government is reluctant to intervene in academies until they reach crisis level, as you can see from other examples on this site. Personally, I think OAIS has reached this level, and the Ofsted Report last year, including two local inspectors SHOULD have placed the school in Special Measures.

  • Comment Link Friday, 06 April 2018 21:11 posted by Mrs D

    Peter, I have a few family members whose children have been given a place at Oasis Academy, they didn't actually apply for the Academy and unfortunately they are not in a position to Home Educate as I and many families on the Island are doing, do you think appealing will realistically be successful? PETER: I have amplified the section on Swale (Page 4) in this article to cover this issue.

  • Comment Link Wednesday, 04 April 2018 23:03 posted by Geraldine

    Hello Peter - we are one of the families who have bought a new house at Minster.Excellent value we thought but soon discovered the drawback by reputation - Oasis Isle of Sheppey Academy. Like many others we did not apply for it for our eldest son, but put down four houses on the mainland, only to be refused all of them and offered OIOSA after all. What are our chances of winning a place anywhere on appeal? PETER: Go on every waiting list. Fulston very difficult, SCC and Abbey (I know its a long way, but you would not be the only one, and the train journey is well worth the sacrifice) are your best chances at appeal. Westlands is a possibility.

  • Comment Link Wednesday, 04 April 2018 04:50 posted by Proud Wrotham parent

    Why no mention of Wrotham, although I know you are a fan, having recommended the school to us?
    PETER: I am afraid it did not fit in with my narrative, although having now had several nudges it is in there! It is a school that HAS to do well, with no large natural base to draw on depending on reputation to attract pupils from neighbouring areas. Has lost Meopham and Malling now both very popular, but is still 24 oversubscribed which speaks for itself.

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 03 April 2018 19:56 posted by Did not apply for Hayesbrook!

    TW. Its terrible and thanks for highlighting the scandal. I don;t think anyone would have known what is going on otherwise. We are one of those with none of the three schools offered, having no faith background and living outside the SKA catchment towards the north of town. We have been offered Hayesbrook, a boys' school in Tonbridge, along according to you with another 56 boys who didn't want to go there. Hardly a recommendation, especially as our gentle son does not want an all boys school. What can we do? PETER: I just wish I knew. Go and look at Hayesbrook, even if it is in the next town. KCC is responsible for getting your son there. I have heard from several Hayesbrook parents that they like it with its 'small school' pastoral approach, but strong discipline, and high academic standards. No one will still tell me why it is so unpopular, which may be a good sign. Obviously appeal to SKA and go on the waiting list, but don't hold your breath. You could try looking at the Sussex schools if you can get your son there. Little consolation, but at least you are better off than those offered High Weald! Sorry.

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 03 April 2018 16:38 posted by Despairing Maidstone parent

    What is actually wrong with the Duke of York's? Living in Maidstone without a good school to go to, could we apply there on a Monday to Friday boarding basis? PETER: I am afraid I am not able to comment whilst legal proceedings continue, only to report on factual matters. The school governors turn down a lot of applicants from non-military families as 'not suitable for boarding', so I suspect wishing for Monday to Friday boarding only may qualify as one of these. I quite understand your unhappiness about the Maidstone situation brought about by the lack of approval of the new school, but I suggest there remain serious questions to be answered here before you go ahead with this one.

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 03 April 2018 13:57 posted by Very angry and let down TW parent

    We are amongst the many TW families whose daughter has been sent to High Weald. It is impossible to get her there, and having visited the school are not prepared to try. We cannot afford private like some others who have been let down. What can we do. PETER: My heart goes out to you. You have seen my analysis! There will be some movement as other TW families choose to go private creating spaces. This is not KCCs fault, but they have the responsibility to get your daughter to school. So very sorry I cannot be more optimistic.

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 03 April 2018 13:46 posted by Chris W

    Goodwin Academy - We thought the school's troubles were over having endured the bad years and now with a great head and staff. However SchoolsCompany appear to have ruined it again, with staff cuts damaging the recovery. Will anyone be held to account for the missing money. PETER: Sad to say, I very much doubt it. Academies appear to be open house for profiteers. If the Regional Schools Commissioner can find someone new to take the school on., there is all the potential and goodwill to make it a success.

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 03 April 2018 10:12 posted by Rachael

    you appear to have served up a hornet's nest with Hayesbrook on social media, where you are accused of all sorts of criticism of the quality of education at Hayesbrook. I can find none at all in either of your articles, just asking the fair question why so many local families don't want their sons to go there, and why so many remove them once they are at the school. As a parent of a Year Six son offered a place at the school, I need to know the answer to the 'puzzle' you have set. PETER: So do I, and so must the leaders of the school. Can anyone out there help, rather than just telling us about the high GCSE pass rate (given and congratulated on) and the small classes and excellent pastoral care (especially in Year 8 with its 61 boys rattling round in premises designed for 150 boys, and presumably generous staffing as a result). Clearly neither is sufficient attraction to lure boys in.

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 03 April 2018 09:50 posted by Andrew Baxter

    What an amazing website, packed with information. Whilst my interest is TW, I can see so much about other parts of the county that show our problems are the worst. If you live in the north of the town, you stand no chance of a place if you are not religious. PETER: You may well be right. I do not know why there is no outcry about this!

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