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Tuesday, 02 April 2019 22:48

Oversubscription & Vacancies in Medway Grammar Schools on Allocation 2019


All Medway boys and girls who are grammar qualified will have been offered a place at Chatham Girls or Holcombe if they did not get one elsewhere and applied to one of these two. An example of  what I am coming to regard as 'Medway Madness' which affects both the Local Authority and some local schools, the Council has unlawfully deprived late applicants including those moving into Medway of their right to be considered at a grammar school, as explained here. This follows the complete breakdown of the Medway Review process, with just 4 Medway pupils having a Review upheld, out of 159. 

Only one grammar school, Chatham Girls, had vacancies. 242 out of Medway candidates have been offered places out of 1042 in total. This amounts to 23%, or nearly a quarter of all the places offered, and is well up on 2018's 185 offers to children from outside Medway. 

An additional 68 new places have been created, 38 at Chatham Girls and 30 at Fort Pitt, although The Rochester Grammar School took away the 30 extra places it has offered for the past two years, probably for reasons outlined below. 

Rochester Grammar      SJWMS1

The Rochester Grammar School was by a long way the most oversubscribed grammar in Medway, turning away 121 grammar school qualified first choices, as a result of seeing its pass mark to soar to its highest ever, the year before it scraps super selection completely.  It is followed by Sir Joseph Williamson's Mathematical School (The Math) with 70 first choice boys turned away.  

I look in more detail at the outcomes, including the situation for each grammar school individually, below.

You will find preliminary information on Medway allocations here, and details of the 2018 allocation process hereKent Grammar Schools hereMedway Non-Selective places to come.

The unlawful ban on any child from taking the Medway Test late is an extension of the 2018 policy, also unlawful and discriminatory, of blocking Medway children from taking the Medway Test late, but allowing  out of county children to do so! Does no one at Medway Council care what its officers are doing in its name?

I was responsible for blocking changes to the Admission rules this year for Fort Pitt, Holcombe, Rochester Grammar following successful complaints to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) with The Math withdrawing their proposed changes before my complaint was considered. Medway Council was not interested enough in these proposals which worked against fairness to local children, to express a view in spite of being asked for one, although it is responsible for provision of places. 

Here is the summary picture for applications for each school; you will find further details below and at the Individual Schools Information Section here with  2019 outcomes on allocation, although some updating on text is needed.   

Medway Grammar School Allocations 2019
over 2018
First Prefs
Not Offered
Chatham Girls 180 38 56 0 46 75
Fort Pitt 150 30 118 18 0 5
Holcombe 150 0 67 2 0 67
Rainham Mark 235 0 253 27 0 13
Rochester 175 -30 266 121 0 74
The Math 205 0 266 70 0 15

 Offers across the Medway Boundary 

The 242 ooc places taken up are mainly at Chatham Girls, Holcombe and Rochester grammar schools, offering over 60 ooc places each. 

OOC Allocations to Medway Grammars
  Medway Kent Bexley Bromley Greenwich Other
Chatham Girls 59 25 19 0 24 7
Fort Pitt 148 2 0 0 0 0
Holcombe 83 19 17 8 23 0
Rainham Mark 222 11 0 2 0 0
Rochester 101 38 15 5 8 8
The Math 187 15 0 0 0 0
15 Medway girls were offered places at Invicta Grammar, Maidstone. Fewer than five were offered places at each of: Borden, Dartford, Gravesend, Highsted, Highworth, Judd, Maidstone Girls, Mayfield, and Oakwood Park grammar schools.
Review Process
Just 4 Medway pupils had a Review upheld out of 159 who applied, and none of the 51 from private and out of county (ooc) schools. As a result, a total of just 23.0% of Medway pupils were found selective against a target of 25%, depriving some 66 Medway children of grammar school places.

The Medway secondary transfer procedure for grammar schools follows the School Admissions Code of Practice, stating that if a child is unsuccessful at Review an Appeal Panel cannot uphold an appeal unless the appellant can prove the process is unfair. Actually it is unfair as Medway Council, having stated that up to 2% of Medway children are selected by Review has overseen a process that saw just 4 out of 159 go through, or 0.12% of the total, details here. However this would be for an appeal Panel to decide, as historically those for the two Chatham grammar schools have done. Other schools see their own interpretation of the rules, which can vary year on year. See Individual School Information. 

Kent Test as an Alternative means of entry to the  two Chatham Grammar Schools
Both of the Chatham grammar schools offer a pass in the Kent Test as an alternative qualification, equivalent to a pass in the Medway Test, for entry. If a child has taken to the Kent test but not passed, this is sufficient to qualify the family to submit an appeal.
A recent complaint to the Schools Adjudicator  about Holcombe' Grammar Schools' admission arrangement (see below) produced as an aside that the two qualifications are completely equivalent in deciding if a child is of grammar school ability: 'The school simply accepts that a child so designated under either, as well as under both, is eligible for a place at the school because they are in its view of selective ability'. This confirms  the important consequence that schools which set their own tests (providing this is in the schools Admission Policy) are acting within the Schools Admission Code. 
There was a meeting for parents, held at Chatham Grammar School for Girls on 15th March, to give advice to parents preparing for appeals to grammar schools in general. It was advertised through social media so will have been very hit and miss in terms of those who were able to attend. It appears no one directly involved with appeals was present and so two important pieces of misinformation were given out. Firstly, contrary to the advice given, no school work is considered by Appeal Panels. This is also a common misconception amongst many primary school heads across the county, not just in Medway. The reasons for this are, firstly that Appeal Panel Members are not necessarily educationalists and so not qualified to assess the quality of work supplied. Secondly, there is no proof that it is the child's unaided work (at least one school works on preparing portfolios to impress Panels!). Thirdly even if the panellists were able to assess work, they have no means of comparing it with  that of children who had been found of grammar school standard.
The second was the suggestion that the child could write their own letter expressing their views. Once again the Panel is not able to assess the quality of such a letter, or whether it is unaided or helped by the parent or some other third party (there is a current parallel with university admissions where applicants have been accused of cheating if they seek help in writing their personal statement- although such a statement is objectively worthless, as there is no mechanism to detect it and in any case why shouldn't someone seek help with a difficult task). 
In either case, a courteous Panel may go through the motions of looking at the work or letter, but cannot draw conclusions from it. For the same reasons, there is no point whatever in taking the child to the appeal, although you are allowed to do so.  
Details of Individual Grammar Schools on Next Page

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Last modified on Friday, 06 November 2020 11:53

1 comment

  • Comment Link Monday, 08 April 2019 15:19 posted by Angela Smith

    I am trying to find out what dates RGS hold it’s appeals- they have published nothing on their website like you said they will do. I have appealed but heard nothing with regards a date yet and obviously won’t for another two weeks due to Easter. Now wondering if they even got my appeal! (That’s stress for you!) anyone know? PETER: The School Admission Appeals Code, which has the force of law, states in Section 2.2 that Admission Authorities must publish their appeals timetable on their website by 28 February each year. Unfortunately there are no immediate sanctions and by the time you have followed any complaint through to a higher authority, the appeals will be over and it will be irrelevant. Try asking them directly,, although most schools won't respond during the holidays.

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