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Thursday, 29 March 2018 06:02

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


All schools full, apart from Homewood in Tenterden, with its massive intake of 420, which has 33 places empty, after taking in 38 from East Sussex. North School which has had its troubles, but appears to be working through them has 20 LAAs to bring it up to capacity.

The interesting one is the Wye Free School with an intake of 90, still oversubscribed by 14 pupils, but what a fall from 2017’s 64. This may well be a consequence of internal problems that have seen the headteacher resign suddenly last summer, followed by the Head of Inclusion and SENCO who both left in the first few weeks of the autumn, followed by further resignations at Christmas. There are issues of both behaviour and attendance reported to governors. Pressure on places will probably be eased a little as Norton Knatchbull, the boys’ grammar traditionally admits high numbers of boys on appeal.

The nearby Towers appears to have been the big beneficiary, having gone from 37 vacancies for its 234 places in 2017 to none this year (and no LAAs).

There are new schools in the pipeline to cater for future housing developments, assuming sponsors come forward

Every school is full on allocation, apart from Community College Whitstable with its 47 vacancies and 22 LAAs. Most oversubscribed schools as usual: St Anselm’s Catholic (79 first choices turned away), Canterbury Academy (35), and Herne Bay High (19). Spires Academy filled by virtue of its 34 LAAs. The new Free School, due for September 2019, will ease pressures since the failed Chaucer Technology School was closed, but Whitstable and Spires must now be concerned about attracting sufficient numbers in the future. Pressure on places will probably be eased a little as Simon Langton Girls’ Grammar traditionally admits a high number of girls on appeal.
Every school filled, apart from Ebbsfleet Academy, with its 67 LAAS out of 147 offers. It is one of the three Brook Academies, all of which feature in the top seven Kent schools in terms of vacancies before LAAs added in. 25 pupils withdrawn for Home Education this year, highest percentage in Kent, and a quarter of its intake dropped out between Years 7 and 11, second highest in the county. One of three Tough Love Academies, clearly very unpopular with families, the three individually having the three lowest percentages of offers with LAAs removed in Kent .

Every other school oversubscribed by first choices, led by Wilmington Academy with 29 turned away and Dartford Science and Technology 23, apart from Leigh Academy, which was the most oversubscribed school in Kent for years until 2014, and then has fast lost popularity, filling this year by virtue of one LAA, although has put an extra 14 places in. Altogether Leigh, Dartford Science and Technology, Inspiration Academy and Longfield Academy have added an extra 53 places between them. A new non-selective Free School to be run by the two Wilmington grammars is on its way, but there have been planning and land issues. The closure of the failed Oasis Hextable Academy two years ago has not helped the pressure. The 66 Bexley children admitted to the six Dartford schools almost exactly balanced by the 63 going the other way.

Dover, Deal and Sandwich
I exclude Duke of York’s Royal Military School in Dover from all Kent statistics, as it is a boarding school with a core military family intake, admitting a significant number of pupils in each year group, starting from a low base in Year 7, over half of whom come from outside Kent. For 2018, it made 21 offers for its 104 places, turning down 10 families who placed it as first preference, probably children from non-military families considered ‘not suitable for boarding’. Currently highly controversial.

Dover was the District with most vacancies, but the proportion has dropped sharply from 25% in 2017, down to 4%. Each of the five schools has a few vacancies apart from Sandwich Technology College, 14 oversubscribed. However, Astor College, which has had a difficult time in recent years including two DfE warnings about low standards, has 58 LAAs, although it is not clear where these have come from, but possibly towards Folkestone. Otherwise, it would have had a third of its places vacant.

Goodwin Academy, in its new buildings, is oversubscribed for the first time since its Ofsted failure in 2014, thanks also to good management within the school, but is being financially crippled with staff lay offs, by the appalling sponsors, SchoolsCompany.  

Last modified on Thursday, 03 October 2019 19:53


  • 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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