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Thursday, 29 March 2018 06:02

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


Three of the six schools turned away over 50 first choices each: Meopham; St Georges CofE; and St John’s Catholic Comprehensive. Three schools, the two church comprehensives and Thamesview have added another 75 places between them. Just one school with vacancies, Northfleet Girls’ with nine, so enormous pressures to come in future years.
As usual, enormous polarisation between the four heavily oversubscribed schools in the town, and the three on the outskirts: Cornwallis Academy; Lenham School; and New Line Learning Academy. Each of the oversubscribed schools have added additional places, 85 between them. Valley Park is the second most oversubscribed non-selective school in the county, turning away 193 first choices, even after its addition of 30 places. Next come Maplesden Noakes with 80, and St Simon Stock with 44 (could it be said to be falling in popularity having slipped from 75 oversubscribed in 2017?). SSS has offered 30 places presumably to Catholic families, from Medway where even some Catholic primary schools do not recommend their local denominational school. It had no successful appeals out of 30 heard in 2017.

A proposed new academy, the Maidstone School of Science and Technology has repeatedly been delayed because of planning issues, with the sponsors losing patience and could walk away from the deal.

Lenham School renamed from Swadelands after its failed OFSTED and subsequent academisation, appears to be recovering popularity with its number of vacancies falling from 45 in 2017, to 15 this year. The two academies of the Future Schools Trust, on the west of the town are both disaster areas, with poor academic performance and low popularity, in spite of new premises. Although New Line Learning Academy has just 33 vacancies, it has 80 of the town’s 103 LAAs. This gives it the second highest vacancy rate in Kent before LAAs are taken into account at 54%. Cornwallis was recently described to me as ‘huge, plazas instead of classrooms and fish bowl science labs. Not a good learning environment for easily distracted children’. Certainly, my last visit there left me with a very negative view watching the movement of children round the site.

Three schools, no vacancies. Trinity Free School has really established itself, again offering 180 places, but being 81 first choices oversubscribed, up from 13 in 2017. Knole Academy is 25 places oversubscribed, but has offered 69 to Bromley children, a number of whom usually find local preferred schools before September.

Orchards Academy in Swanley continues to be very popular, also thriving on the closure of Oasis Hextable, offering places to all its 105 first choices, but by virtue of expanding 20 places to 140.

Just three schools since the closure of Pent Valley in 2017, to be replaced by a new school in 2019. In the meantime Brockhill Park in Hythe between Folkestone and Romney Marsh, is the main draw, turning away 134 first choices for its 235 places. Both Folkestone Academy and Marsh Academy are also oversubscribed, by 18 and 12 places respectively.

Last modified on Thursday, 03 October 2019 19:53


  • 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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