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Friday, 22 March 2019 06:09

Oversubscription & Vacancies Kent Non-Selective Secondary Schools 2019


Update  in progress 2/10/19
Note: Oversubscription levels have been altered since the original version of this article, as KCC did not originally provide it in the same form as in previous years. There is a parallel article on Kent grammar schools here
The main themes of 2019 allocations to non-selective secondary schools in Kent are the increased pressure on places following a 4.6% increase in numbers, and the increased polarisation of choices. KCC has worked hard with individual schools to provide additional places in some areas, with a total of 431 extra places being provided in the non-selective sector since 2018 allocations, taking into account 113 which have been removed from four schools for different reasons. Many of these were forced late changes as explained below, settled on top of the 2019 Published Admission Numbers (PAN), some pressure points being unpredictable. After allocation there were just 434 vacancies out of the 13,708 available, a total of 3.2%, down from 3.9% in 2018. The four most oversubscribed schools in the table of most oversubscribed schools below are the same as in 2018, led by Valley Park, Maidstone, turning down 186 first choices and St George's CofE Foundation, Broadstairs, with 182 disappointed families.  
      Valley 2        St Georges Foundation
Six Districts were left with no non-selective vacancies at all, in spite of the extra places added in: Ashford; Canterbury; Dartford; Gravesham Maidstone; Sevenoaks. However, there will be considerable churning in the next few months, following successful grammar school appeals, appeals in the more popular schools and waiting list re-allocation to fill fresh vacancies  in some of these areas.
Just 12 of the 68 schools have vacancies at this time. Nine schools each have over 40 Local Authority Allocations (LAAs). Each of these, identified below, has been the subject of concern expressed in previous articles on this site. One school, Holmesdale which had 41% vacancies in 2018 before Local Authority Allocations, has seen this soar to 60% for 2019 with several other schools seeing a rise of over 10% in their vacancy rate. 
I look more closely below at the situation in each District, along with the most oversubscribed schools and those with most vacancies, together with the impact of out of county offers..
This annual survey of Kent non-selective places is the second largest article I produce
each year (the largest is the parallel survey of primary school allocations).
I am happy to accept there may be corrections or expansions needed,
together with helpful comments, which I will incorporate if these are pointed out. 

You will find the equivalent article here for 2018 allocations. 

One problem I have is that KCC has introduced a new set of rules in data publication that redacts information relating to small numbers, although I consider there is no danger that individuals can be identified. It also refused the detail as I could apparently identify individuals or they could identify themselves. However I am now in a position to provide the information I needed. As a result, I delayed the updating of Individual School Information until I obtained additional information, now in progress. Some pages also need updating on other data. Please let me know of any you wish to be brought up to date. 

You will find my initial and more general thoughts here, with the parallel article on grammar schools here and Medway schools grammar and non-selective. I look at individual Districts further down the article, with direct links at: 

Four schools have reduced their Planned Admission number (PAN) since 2018. These are:  St George'sCofE, Gravesend (returning to its 2017 PAN from 210 to 180; Leigh Academy (returning to its 2017 PAN from 256 to 240); Goodwin Academy and New Line Learning (both down from 210 to 280 because of limited uptake). I look at all these four situations below.   
The rise and rise of Meopham is especially of note, with the school expanding by 30 places this year, partially to meet demand across Gravesham with other pupils across the Borough being sent out to Ebbsfleet (see below).  There is just one new arrival in the list, Knole Academy, now with a new headteacher.  There are 15 schools in total with more than 50 children placing them first choice, being turned away, down from 17 in 2018. That leaves three schools dropping off the list: Malling, which has seen its Ofsted fall to Requires Improvement; and two Tunbridge Wells schools, Bennett Memorial Diocesan and St Gregory's Catholic both of which offered 60 more places than in 2018 (see below). In total two thirds of the schools in the list have increased their intake taking children away from the less popular schools.  
In one sense I am describing a misleading picture as, for some of these schools, their popularity is increased by a desire to avoid a school with perceived difficulties, as explained below.  Some commentators seek to criticise such parents for chasing popular schools, but the reality is often very different. 
The picture will have changed considerably between March and September, successful grammar school appeals taking children out of the sector and creating a ripple effect as children move up to preferred schools through re-allocation where places have been freed. In addition, some of these schools also admit significant numbers of additional children on appeal,  those at the other end of the scale suffering even further. The classic case is surely Oasis Academy Isle of Sheppey which is struggling for numbers even before Westlands School on the nearby mainland has created an additional 51 places through successful appeals.  
Most Oversubscribed Kent Non Selective Schools  2019
1st Choices
Turned Down
Valley Park 270* 431 186  59  5
St George's CofE
217 390 182  65  12
Fulston Manor 210 341 152  76  6
King Ethelbert 150 266 122  37
Trinity Free 180* 257  104   22  7
St George's CofE
180** 248 93 31 22
Westlands 330* 360 93 52  51
Bennett Memorial 300 349 78 39  3
Charles Dickens 232 219 77 32 7
Meopham 170* 226 75 39 29
St John's Catholic 196* 244 68 18 2
Maplesden Noakes 210* 227 67 45 6
St Anselm's Cath 190* 223 66 20 5
Knole Academy 270* 236 56 2 0
Herne Bay 265*  305 55 19 14
Brockhill Park 256* 275 51 19 1
Notes: *  School with Increase in Places 2018 - 2019
                  ** School with Decrease in Places 2018-2019
I have included the appeal data for 2019, which you will find for all Kent schools in the Individual Schools section, with an overview here, as a guide to the potential challenge facing parents who wish to appeal. However, you will see from the Individual School data over recent years that, whilst the pattern of outcomes for some schools is fairly constant others can change sharply, often as a result of some change in the school circumstances. I will shortly be producing a full article on the 2019 appeals, that for 2018 being here
The table includes all schools that have more than a third of their places empty upon secondary allocation, before KCC placed Local Authority Allocated Children (LAAs), who are children with no school of their choice, in them. Apart from New Line Learning (NLL), each one has featured in a recent article of concern, signposted in the District analysis below. 
Most remarkable is the polarisation referred to above, which can be seen by comparison of the table below with the equivalent 2018 article. This exposes starkly the sharp decline in applications to nearly all the schools in both lists, apart from High Weald which heads both tables. These range from Oasis Sheppey the same in both tables with 43% to, unsurprisingly, Holmesdale which has leapt from 41% to 60% vacancies before Local Authority Allocations are taken into consideration.  
I have this year included an additional column, '% Loss 2018'  which looks back to 2018 data. I have compared the March allocation figure with the number of Year 7 children who actually turned up, according to the October 2018 school census. The two tables contain almost all the same schools heading them up. The losses will have come from children taking up places at alternative schools where vacancies have developed (or in some cases private schools), together with an indeterminate number leaving for Home Education, rather than send their children to these schools. 
These include Ebbsfleet Academy, which has offered to children in Shorne, on the Medway border and grammar qualified boys unable to access local selective schools because of the high number of London children given places in the two Dartford grammars. Along with High Weald and Hayesbrook, the other two schools in the Brook Learning Trust, the three present a frightening picture of lack of confidence in their offering, taking up three of the five highest percentage vacancies before LAAs. High Weald and Ebbsfleet  are both in the top four schools to lose children to Elective Home Education or simply vanishing from the scene during 2017-18.  The Brook Trust also provided the school support for Holmesdale School on its downward spiral last year.  
 High Weald 150 101 51 61% 42 42%
Holmesdale 180 128 61 60% 56 37%
Hartsdown 180 175 46 59% 101 18%
Ebbsfleet** 150 197 91 58% 83 41%
Hayesbrook 151 130  46 50% 55 45%
NLL 180 180  87 44% 79 22%
Oasis Sheppey 390 302 175 43% 79 17%
Royal Harbour 200  241 92 39% 88  18%
Folkestone 270 186 155 34%  4%
 Notes:* This is the percentage loss between allocation in March 2019 and take up in October 2019 according to the Kent census. 
           **The Ebbsfleet Academy intake was increased by 47 places to absorb all the Dartford LAAs. 
There are many connections between schools in these two tables, as families seek to avoid some of those in the table above, to chase places elsewhere making them even more popular. 
District Survey
1298 0 0 19
Canterbury 1165 0 0 64
Dartford 1120 0 0 83
Dover  915 3 106 6
Folkestone & Hythe 886 2 87 18
Gravesham 1100 0 0 26
Maidstone 1405 0 0 129
Sevenoaks 585 0 0 15
Swale 1365 1 88 79
Thanet 1158 2 14 189
Tunbridge & Malling 1136 2 73 136
Tunbridge Wells 1170 1 49 42

 Note: KCC is not currently releasing data for individual schools where numbers are less than 5. This is only relevant in this table to the number of LAAs, which are likely to be greater than the figure quoted for each District.

Out of County
Because of KCC's invalid restriction on numbers less than five (in my opinion invalid because individuals cannot be identified from a Local Authority) I was unable to complete this section at present, although as KCC chose to send it to another enquirer for 2018 data, which you will find here I cannot see the problem.   
However, I do know the largest numbers: Knole Academy 64 (62 from Bromley); Homewood 55 (all from East Sussex); Bennett Memorial 40 (38 from East Sussex); Wilmington Academy 37 (all from Bexley); Holmesdale 23 (all from Medway); Aylesford 22 (all from Medway); St Simon Stock 16 (all from Medway); Leigh Academy 15 (11 from Bexley); Dartford Sci &Tech 13 (all from Bexley); St John's Catholic 12 (11 from Medway); and Trinity School 11 (all from Bromley).
259 Kent children have been offered Out of County Non-Selective Places: Bexley 53 (St Catherine's Catholic 19, Haberdasher's Aske's Crayford Academy 12, St Columba's Catholic Boys' 11);  Bromley 21; East Sussex 68 (Uplands 51); Medway 41 (Greenacre  12, Walderslade Girls 11); Surrey 62 (Oxted 59).
For 2019: 366 out of county children were offered places in Kent non-selective schools, with 291 going the other way.
The main traffic was between: Medway (104 in, 22 out); Bromley (89 in, 15 out); East Sussex (81 in, 129 out); Bexley (66 in, 63 out); and Surrey (1 in, 68 out).

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Last modified on Thursday, 22 April 2021 10:31

1 comment

  • Comment Link Thursday, 18 April 2019 18:42 posted by Edenbridge Mum

    Kent needs to look at some of the poor girls in Edenbridge. Edenbridge
    seems to be a forgotten corner of Kent. In past years children have been offered places at Sevenoaks schools and Hugh Christie but with the constant squeeze on places this year girls have been allocated High Weald which is an impossible 2 hour plus journey by public transport. Boys fair slightly better being allocated Hayesbrook. PETER: I didn't know of this one. I am shocked, although fairly confident you will get in at Knole eventually it you have applied, either through waiting list or appeal.

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