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Saturday, 02 March 2019 15:39

Medway Secondary School Allocations for September 2019: Initial Information and Advice

The 2019 Medway Council Press Statement on secondary school allocation appears to cover up a large fall in the proportion of pupils offered a place at one of their preferred schools. This is accompanied by another fall in the proportion of children being offered their first or second choice.

All we are allowed to learn is that all 3300 Medway children who applied for secondary school places received offers, that 89% of them received a first or second choice, with over 90% receiving one of their preferences, and that 736 children from outside Medway were considered for places.

For 2018 entry, the equivalent statement recorded that over 95.5% (actually 95.6%) of Medway children received a preference, so this appears to be a sharp and worrying fall, with nearly one in ten Medway families being allocated to a school they did not choose.

Medway

Once again, the council continues its attempts to hide the facts from local residents (not serving you), but the Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services is ‘very pleased that many have been allocated a place at one of their preferred schools’. Unfortunately, too many have not! He continues: ‘it a testament to the team’s hard work that the majority of families receive offers at one of their preferred schools (an ‘is’ would have been helpful from the Council’s education leader), both statements suggesting the great disappointment that these figures imply. This follows on from the scandal of the Medway Review I highlighted recently.

There is initial advice at the foot of this article on what to do if you have not been offered the school of your choice. This begins as always with my Corporal Jones mantra, do NOTHING in panic! You may regret it. There is no quick fix. There is also a link to the limited telephone advisory service I now offer.

Over the years, Medway Council school allocation statistics regularly quote the most generous interpretation of any number (‘over’ and ‘nearly’ being words to maximise a variation of less than 0.5), so it would be remarkable if they had changed practice for 2019.

Up to 2017 the proportion of successful first and second preference applications were quoted separately, but for my 2018 Medway article  I had to obtain the full information  via a subsequent FOI. The skimpy 2019 data still shows there is an apparent surge in unhappiness from 4.4% of families receiving no school of their choice to a percentage more than twice as large, at some 9.5%. As a result, I am already receiving a larger than usual number of enquiries from some of these families. 

 
Medway Secondary School Allocations March 2018
Medway Pupils 2019** 2018

2017

2016
Number % Number % Num % Num %
Offered a first preference 2937 89%

2580

79.4% 2505 78.9% 2536 84.3%
Offered a second preference 381 11.7% 371 11.7% 283 9.4%
Offered a third preference
    91 2.8%  115 3.6% 71 2.3%%
Offered one of their six choices 2987 90.5% 3117 95.6% 3029 95.4% 2931 97.4%
Allocated a place by Medway 313 >9.5% 142 4.4% 145 4.6% 77 2.6%
Total number of Medway
children offered places
3300   3259 3174 3008
**Approximations from Medway Council Press Release 
 

I will be publishing a detailed analysis of the data when I receive further details, but you may wish to look at the detailed Kent release to see the stark contrast in attitude of the two Councils towards the release of data.  

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Out of County Applications
The 736 out of county applicants represents another considerable increase from the 630 of 2018, although there is no indication of how many were offered places, surely a critical figure. In 2018, 228 ooc children offered places in Medway schools, 80% of these at grammar schools.
 
The Rochester Grammar School
It looks as if  ironically the level of super selectivity at RGS has shot up in the year before it abolishes it completely, with the cut off, of 550, or 58 points above the pass mark in the Medway Test of 492, much greater than the 2018 gap of 25 points. This has been caused primarily by giving priority to grammar qualified siblings and girls from linked primary schools, no matter what their scores, and probably exacerbated by an increase in London children taking up places. 

This rise in ability level is surely going to exacerbate the difficulties in changing the admission criteria completely for 2020 admission, when the school eliminates any high scoring requirement. I have written a previous article explaining the changes, which have now been finalised, the new (ridiculously overcomplicated and badly set out) oversubscription rules being here.   

Robert Napier School
Good news for families offered Robert Napier School is that it has been given a 'Good'  rating by Ofsted
 
What can you do if you don't have a school of your choice?
As noted above, don't panic. 

So what next? If you are not awarded the school of your choice, then certainly go on the waiting list for every school you have applied for and still wish to consider. You have the right to appeal to any and every school for which you have been turned down. My article on 2018 appeals should be taken as guidance only, with a breakdown of each individual Medway school here. You will also find plenty of free advice in the appeals sections of this website at: Medway Grammar Appeals;  Kent Grammar Appeals; and Oversubscription Appeals. There is also copious grammar school appeal advice on the 11 plus Exams website, although it is not Medway specific and in any case often written for out of county candidates who have different expectations and perceptions, so be careful. 

Obviously, you should talk to your primary school who should be able to offer advice and, if you are not sure of the school to which you have been allocated, ask for another visit, which is likely to be as an individual rather than with the crowd who were there on Open Day. 

 You also have the option of making a late application for a fresh school. Unfortunately, Medway operates a very centralised convoluted process in contrast to Kent's simple system. As a result, parents and I often find it difficult to pin down a shifting procedure especially with late grammar school applications, the Admission Booklet being of limited assistance. The phrase ‘at the discretion of the Student Services Management Team’ is used too often in discussion.However, every year we see a considerable ‘churning’ effect as children take up places off the waiting lists, as children win appeals at higher preferences, and some unhappy families remove themselves from the state system, so don't lose hope! 

I regret I have retired from my Personal Appeals Service, having been the only Kent and Medway appeals specialist  operating I am afraid. I still offer a Telephone Advisory Service which provides an initial hard-nosed information and advisory assessment and advice. 

Last modified on Tuesday, 05 March 2019 19:05

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