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Friday, 22 March 2019 06:09

Oversubscription & Vacancies Kent Non-Selective Secondary Schools 2019



 Folkestone and Hythe
The two Folkestone schools, Folkestone Academy (FA) and the new Turner Free School are both run by the problematic Turner Schools academy trust. The decision to expand Turner Free School by 60 places to 180 has hit FA badly, with its intake falling by 31% since last year leaving it with nearly a third of its places empty. One can only speculate why Turner Schools decide to badly undermine its own FA in this way. Brockhill Park in Hythe has exacerbated the problem by expanding its own intake by 21 places to  256, still disappointing 51 first choice families, while the rural Marsh Academy continues to recruit well with 177 offers for its 180 places. It is likely that some families from the Marsh, drawn to Brockhill in the past, can no longer access it, because of the flow from Folkestone.
All six schools are full, with Meopham not only increasing its PAN by 30 places,  but still being the ninth most oversubscribed school in Kent with 75 disappointed first choices for its 170 places. All this before its recent Outstanding Ofsted. It is just one of three Gravesham schools in my table above of the most oversubscribed schools in the county, headed up by St George's CofE (although it reduced its intake by 30 from 2018), and also St John's Catholic Comprehensive. KCC is investigating possible sites for a new secondary school in the next few years. Children from across the Borough offered LAA places at Ebbsfleet Academy, including a number from Shorne on the Medway border.  
No vacancies in any of the seven schools  with Valley Park, run by the assertive Valley Invicta Academy Trust (VIAT) being the .most oversubscribed school in the county, with 186 disappointed first preferences for  its 270 places.  just six pupils were awarded places on appeal, but a large number of others will have been awarded places on re-allocation, after the grammar school appeals (see below). This is in  spite of an additional 70 places being added for 2019. Maplesden Noakes is increasing in popularity being 11th most oversubscribed school in Kent, turning away 67 first choices, whilst St Augustine's Academy has 41, overtaking the previously perennial second in Maidstone, St Simon Stock Catholic, although this still rejected 35 first choices.Two schools, Cornwallis Academy and New Line Learning Academy, had 129 LAAs between them, and will be the big losers after grammar school appeals. They are run by the struggling Future Schools Academy Trust which is to be taken over by the  Every Child, Every Day Academy Trust this Autumn. Cornwallis, the most oversubscribed school in Maidstone when I began my appeal business appears to have been run into the ground by its leaders. Its completely new premises were recently described to me as ‘huge, plazas instead of classrooms and fish bowl science labs. Not a good learning environment for easily distracted children’. The four Maidstone grammars have had 187 appeals upheld this year, just four at Maidstone Grammar from pupils who were already grammar qualified. There will therefore be a large ripple effect as those appeals take effect with the stronger schools replacing losses from those further down the chain.
 Even Lenham School, which had been failing for years under KCC control with large numbers of vacancies year on year, having been taken over by VIAT has seen its popularity soar and for the first time (I suspect ever) is oversubscribed, turning away 26 first choices. 
A new Free School, the Maidstone School  of Science & Technologyalso to be run by VIAT,  is to open in 2020 to meet the pressures caused by major housing developments in the town . This follows years of delay because of planning objections on traffic grounds, as it is situated on a right angled bend in a narrow road adjacent to Valley Park and Invicta Grammar schools. This will see over 3,000 pupils converging on the spot when it is up and running. Uniquely, the new school is to be supported by a private school in Asia, the School of Science and Technology, Singapore. Even with the growth in the town, the 180 pupil intake will inevitably cause enormous damage to the numbers going to Cornwallis and NLL. 
Three schools, but no vacancies. Trinity Free School has really established itself, the fifth most oversubscribed school in Kent, rejecting 104 first choices for its 180 places, having increased its intake by 60 places from the 2019 PAN.  Knole Academy is full even after adding 30 places, by virtue of  offering 62 places to Bromley children, a number of whom usually find local preferred schools before September and still managed to turn away 104 first choices for its 270 places. It has had a difficult few years, being run by the highest paid headteacher in Kent, but she retired at Christmas, leaving the new head a job to do, but presumably on a far lower salary. 

Orchards Academy in Swanley continues to be popular, also thriving on the closure of Oasis Hextable a few years ago, but offering places to all its 110 first choices, together with another fifteen on top of the agreed 135 at the last moment, all LAAs, presumably to ease the pressure on nearby Dartford.

Last modified on Friday, 20 March 2020 12:12

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