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Sunday, 13 May 2018 19:06

Oversubscription and Vacancies in Kent Primary Schools, 2018


laces in the town continue to be tight, with four of the six schools oversubscribed, Seal picking up numbers, having just 10 of its 60 places empty, one of just five Kent schools with every pupil attaining the expected level at Key Stage 2, and St Thomas’ Catholic one. Riverhead, a few years ago regularly the most oversubscribed school in Kent, crashed in popularity so that last year it was just one first choice oversubscribed, but is once again the most popular school in Sevenoaks turning away 29 first choices this year. Also popular are St John’s CofE, with 18 disappointed first choices, followed by Lady Boswell’s CofE VA, with 17. Overall 20% of children did not get their first choice of school, by some way the highest figure in Kent.

The large hinterland of Sevenoaks District (excluding Swanley below) has a total of just 11 first choices denied across its 21 schools. 15 schools have vacancies, most at Edenbridge with 60% vacancies, which dropped two categories to Special Measures in January with large numbers of families removing their children previously. Churchill CofE VC in Westerham, whose Ofsted classification fell from ‘Good’ to ‘Requires Improvement’, has 57% of its Reception places empty for September. All other schools have 70% or more of their places filled. Overall, there were 21% vacant spaces.

Leigh Primary has a high Key Stage Two performance, and the highest proportion of pupils in all-through schools with Level 5 in English & Maths performance in the county, at 34%, but does not appear to affect its popularity being full, but no first choices turned away. Ide Hill came third with 29%.

Plenty of spaces with just 2% or 13 children not getting their first place at the island’s ten schools. Most oversubscribed is Rose Street in Sheerness turning away 9 of those children, the other is Queenborough with its ‘Outstanding’ Ofsted.

Most vacancies was St Edward’s Catholic, also in Sheerness with 43% empty spaces, out of Special Measures by virtue of academisation. Followed by Richmond Academy, another Sheerness school, worst performing school in Kent last year, yet another ruined by Lilac Sky, at 28%. Regis Manor had an additional 30 places put in leaving it with 24 empty spaces out of 90.

Just three schools had a significant number of vacancies amongst the 17 Folkestone schools, headed by Morehall, which appears to have increased its PAN by 30 places to a total of 60 in anticipation of a surge following the takeover by Turner Schools from the failed Lilac Sky Trust. No surge and as a result it had 67% empty spaces, but still 33% if based on the original PAN. 9 of the 20 offers were to LAAs, nearly half of the 20 in total across the town. Next came Martello Grove with 27% empty spaces, absorbing another 4 LAAS. This is a new school in its third year, again originally with Lilac Sky, taken over by Turner about whom I have recently written a widely read and critical analysis.

The 83 children who did not get their first choice are spread across nine schools, most at Sandgate (21), St Martin’s (16); and St Eanswythe’s (11). St Mary’s Primary Academy which shot from nowhere to the sixth most oversubscribed school in Kent in 2017, has slipped back to 11 first choices oversubscribed.

Selsted CofE has a high Key Stage Two performance, and the fourth highest proportion of pupils in all-through schools with Level 5 in English & Maths performance in the county, at 29%, but this does not appear to affect its popularity being full, but no first choices turned away.

Just six children applying for the 19 schools in Hythe, across Romney Marsh and in the rural hinterland did not get their first choice, with five of these at Seabrook. The 23% vacancies are fairly widely spread, although Brenzett CofE is still suffering from its failed Ofsted in 2015, and has three quarters of its 20 places empty, a higher figure than 2017s 65%. Stowting CofE had 60% of its places empty, and three schools – Hythe Bay CofE, Palmarsh (these two being neighbouring schools on the coast, so there may be a population issue), and Stelling Minnis, CofE all a third empty.

Sittingbourne & Rural Swale
I have considered Faversham and Sheppey, both also parts of Swale, in separate sections.

In and around the town just three schools are significantly oversubscribed, headed by Tunstall CofE now relocated in its new premises on the edge of town, with its ‘Outstanding’ Ofsted, and turning away 23 first choices. Next come Canterbury Road, 18, and Grove Park 10.

Over half of the 11 schools have vacancies, Milton Court Primary Academy, now having two ‘Requires Improvement’ Ofsted inspections since being taken over as an academy having a third of its Reception places empty.

In the rural area, a third of the schools are oversubscribed with first choices, headed by Borden with 13, and Bobbing with 12. The 16% vacancies are well spread out, although Lower Halstow has 53% of its 30 places unfilled.

Swanley and Areaa
Of the 11 schools, just one, St Paul’s CofE VC in Swanley was significantly oversubscribed by 12 first choices, a pleasing vote of confidence for a school that has had a chequered history in the past. In total there are 24% places left empty, by my classification the highest percentage of any Kent area. Halstead has had a chequered history, and its 2016 ‘Good’ Ofsted assessment, up from RI has made little impact, with 60% empty spaces. It is followed by Horton Kirby with 58%, but also with a recent ‘Good’ Ofsted up from RI. West Kingsdown, still stuck on ‘Requires Improvement’, follows with 49% vacancies in Reception.

Last modified on Saturday, 09 February 2019 23:12


  • 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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