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Sunday, 13 May 2018 19:06

Oversubscription and Vacancies in Kent Primary Schools, 2018


In 2017, there was just one school with vacancies out of the 19 in and around the town, this year there are seven, with 7% vacancies across the area. Most oversubscribed school as usual is Great Chart Primary, turning away 40 first choices, mainly thanks to additional housing nearby what was the village. Other pressure points are Kingsnorth (again, with 15 first choices losing out), Goat Lees (11) and the new Finberry Primary (10). Repton Manor, which took in an additional 30 children in 2017 to ease the pressure in the town cut back to offering 60 places, still eight first choices oversubscribed. There are seven schools with vacancies. Outside town just five out of 19 schools are oversubscribed. Lady Joanna Thornhill Endowed school in Wye turned away 19 first choices, the only one in double figures.

Wittersham CofE has the second highest all-through Key Stage Two performance at Level 5 in English & Maths across the county, at 31% of all pupils, but did not fill.

As in previous years, the popularity of the nine city schools is heavily polarised, with five schools oversubscribed, led by St Thomas’ Catholic School turning away 21 first choices, and St Peter’s Methodist with 12. The 22 Local Authority Allocations are shared fairly amongst the other four. Parkside Community School has just nine pupils for its 30 places following its KS2 results being amongst the bottom five in the county, and rumours of possible closure. Pilgrims Way has faired little better with 60% of its places empty, but suffers from a difficult set of circumstances, topped off by an Inadequate Ofsted.

Of the 12 rural schools, just two have vacancies. Hersden with a PAN of just 15 has just six offers, the sort of fate that can happen to any of the very small schools, depending on the number of children in the village of that year. The other is Chartham. Both accepted one of the two LAAs, so the large majority of children were still awarded one of their choices. Most oversubscribed schools are Bridge & Patrixbourne, and Blean, turning away 15 and 14 first choices respectively.

By contrast, a total of 18% of places available at the nine Canterbury Coastal schools went unfilled. Just two of these had no vacancies, Hampton which just filled, whilst Herne CofE Infants turned away 43 first choices for its 90 places, massively up from the nine of 2017 for no obvious reason.

Cranbrook and Weald
This is technically part of Tunbridge Wells District, but the mainly rural locations of the twelve schools means it is very different from the urban area. Just one school, Goudhurst and Kilndown CofE is heavily oversubscribed, disappointing 26 first choices. Two schools are over half empty for Reception this year, Horsmonden, at 57% vacancies, and Sandhurst, Ofsted ‘Requires Improvement’ 53%.
In the urban west of the District, just two schools have more than one vacancy, Joyden’s Wood Infants and Maypole, an overall vacancy rate of 3% in the area being the lowest in the county this year. 39 children got no school of their choice. Brent Primary is the most oversubscribed school in the county, with 73 disappointed first choices for its 90 places, as parents were attracted by its ‘Outstanding’ Ofsted of last year, up from ‘Requires Improvement’. Other popular schools were Our Lady’s Catholic, Dartford Bridge Community, St Anselm’s Catholic and Fleetdown, all with 18 or more disappointed first choices.

In the east of Dartford, where I also include Hartley, just three schools are significantly oversubscribed with more than ten first choices turned away, led by Stone St Mary’s with 18, followed by Hartley Primary Academy and Our Lady of Hartley, both with ‘Outstanding’ Ofsteds. Last year’s new Cherry Orchard Primary had an additional 30 places added to its original 30. With 10% vacancies overall, seven of the 12 schools had spaces, led by Knockhall Primary, with 26 of its 90 spaces empty, previously unfortunate to be a Lilac Sky school, but still generating negative comments under its new owners, alongside Key Stage Two results amongst the lowest in Kent.

Last modified on Saturday, 09 February 2019 23:12


  • Comment Link Saturday, 09 February 2019 20:06 posted by Chris Ball

    Good to see St. Paul’s, Swanley Village getting the aknowledgement it deserves after a chequered few years. PETER: My pleasure; good to give praise where it is deserved. I must confess I have re-edited the section!

  • Comment Link Monday, 11 June 2018 11:21 posted by Matt

    Another example of poor planning, presumably prompted by KCC officers? The Bishop Chavasse Free School is unnecessary in Tonbridge. Proper analysis of the figures would have shown that. Investment in existing schools should have been more fully explored. The need seems to be greater elsewhere according to your excellent article.
    Yet another Free School placed where it is not needed in terms of the demographics.
    It is a pity that Bennett Memorial, with its Teaching School badge and Christian ethos, did not think it would be better to work to support existing Primary schools in Tonbridge rather than setting up a rival school that is likely to make their plight worse. PETER: Last year there were no free places in Tonbridge. This year, thanks to a temporary dip across the county for some reason, they are either in the rural area or else at schools which have been or are still in difficulties. Parents have a right to vote with their feet. Many schools have expanded to their natural or physical limit, as KCC tries to provide places in good schools. Don't forget, 30 extra places in a school requires seven classrooms over time. I have been and remain highly critical of KCC over its provision of primary school places (although it has no control over new schools), but not in this case.

  • Comment Link Saturday, 09 June 2018 05:04 posted by Kent Primary Head

    Peter, Thank you for this annual summary of pressures on primary school places in Kent. As you will know it is eagerly waited for by many primary heads who need to know what is happening around the county. We believe Kent is unique in the country in having this information provided. Certainly as head of one of the oversubscribed schools described, I shall use this to explain what is going on to those unfortunate families who are disappointed. PETER: My pleasure.

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