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Friday, 22 March 2019 06:09

Oversubscription & Vacancies Kent Non-Selective Secondary Schools 2019


All schools full, including Homewood in Tenterden, with its massive intake of 420, including 55 from East Sussex, topped up with the small figure of 19 LAAs the total in the District. The pressure on places can be seen with four of the  five schools agreeing to take in extra places above their 2018 final intake: John Wallis CofE 30 to 240; North 25 to 240; Towers 27 to 270; and Wye 38 to 128. Wye is the most oversubscribed with 41 first choices rejected for its 128 places. The last three named have all had problems in  the past, but appear to have overcome them, Ashford families being spoiled for choice with all five schools having a Good Ofsted, most recently including Towers, found Good in January.  

There are new schools in the pipeline to cater for future housing developments, assuming sponsors come forward, but the first of these at Chilmington Green is not due until 2022!, so existing schools will need to expand further to pick up the shortfall.   

Every school is full on allocation, with Herne Bay High taking in an extra seven pupils and St Anselm's another 10. Most oversubscribed schools as usual: St Anselm’s Catholic (66 first choices turned away for 190 places),  Herne Bay High (55 for 265) and Canterbury Academy (33 from 210). Spires Academy is building under its new sponsors with just 7 LAAs well down on previous years. The big loser is Archbishop's which appears to have lost its way with the highest number of LAAs at 38, and disappointing GCSE performance over the past three years. The opening date for the new Free School, sponsored by nearby Barton Court Grammar  has slipped to 2020. Pressure on places will probably be eased a little as Simon Langton Girls’ Grammar traditionally admits a high number of girls on appeal.
Every school is currently filled, including Ebbsfleet Academy, although this position will change considerably when the new 4 f.e. Stone Lodge School opens in September, admitting children outside the normal admissions programme mainly drawn from the other Dartford secondary schools, and not included in this data. 
This will hit Ebbsfleet Academy in particular which has technically increased its intake by 47 to 197, but purely to absorb the 83 LAAs that have been sent there. These include children from across Dartford and Gravesham, and grammar qualified pupils who don't live close enough or have gained high enough aggregate scores to access local grammar schools. Otherwise it would have had 34 empty spaces. As my table above shows, it is likely that a large proportion of these will fade away as families opt for Stone Lodge and other alternatives, so will see an even greater fall than in 2018 when 31% of its proposed intake vanished before term started. In 2017-18, 
Ebbsfleet had the 4th highest proportion of children whose families opted for Elective Home Education or simply vanished.  It is one of the three Brook Academies, all of which feature in the top five Kent schools in terms of vacancies before LAAs are added in. In 2016-17, a quarter of its intake dropped out between Years 7 and 11, second highest in the county. One of four Tough Love Academies in the county, clearly very unpopular with families. The pressure on places has probably been further eased by expansion of nearby Orchards Academy in Sevenoaks (see below). 
Just three of the five other schools had more first choices than places: Leigh  Academy (45 first choices turned away for 240 places, but 16 fewer places offered than 2018), Dartford Sci & Tech (40 turned away for 140 places), and Wilmington Academy (36 for 240 places), showing that choices are well spread around. Leigh Inspiration Academy appears to have lost some of its initial shine as a new school, rejecting just 12 first choices.  With Ebbsfleet Garden City expanding at great pace, the new school should ensure sufficient capacity in the District, until 2021-22 when another new secondary school is planned. 
Dover, Deal and Sandwich
I exclude Duke of York’s Royal Military School in Dover from all Kent statistics, as it is a boarding school with a core military family intake, most not using the Kent admissions scheme, starting from a low base in Year 7, over half of whom come from outside Kent. It has been completely rebuilt at a cost of over £24 million for an intake of 104 places, making 28 offers this year, although numbers build outside the Kent admissions scheme through the year. For 2018, it made 21 offers for its 104 places, turning down 10 families who placed it as first preference, probably children from non-military families considered ‘not suitable for boarding’. This turned into a total of  54 by the time of the October census. Has had a highly controversial recent history, but a change of leadership appears to have settled this down. It is unclear whether past  scandals are still being investigated. 

Dover is, as usual,  the District with most vacancies, but the proportion is falling year on year, down to 12%. As usual, Sandwich Technology School is full, as also is St Edmund's Catholic School for the first time in many years, having rebuilt its reputation since being placed in Special Measures in 2013. However, Astor College, which has had a difficult time in recent years including two DfE warnings about low standards, has 88 vacancies. It has now changed leadership, having previously been run by the same CEO as Duke of York's for some years, but appears to be sinking further. In 2018 it was helped out by a large number of LAAs, possibly from Folkestone, but no longer. The sharpest fall in intake at 39% since 2018 it has, along with Folkestone Academy, lost far more children than any other schools in the county. Presumably all shifting to St Edmund's.   

Goodwin Academy, in Deal, having been financially crippled with staff lay offs by the appalling previous sponsors SchoolsCompany has now been taken over by Thinking Schools Academies Trust and is building its reputation in brand new buildings. However, whilst it was oversubscribed last year, it has not offered the 30 extra places it laid on then.

Last modified on Thursday, 22 April 2021 10:31

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