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Tuesday, 02 April 2019 22:48

Oversubscription & Vacancies in Medway Grammar Schools on Allocation 2019


Individual Grammar Schools
The school has had a recent roller coaster ride with admissions, as you can see from the Individual School Data. For 2017 admission the school was adopted by London families as a stop gap grammar school who found nothing nearer, and its Year 7 roll boomed to 183. This did not materialise for 2018, and so the intake number fell back to 115. It has increased to 134 for 2019 entry, because of  the greater pressure on Rochester Grammar (below) with just 59 Medway girls offered places. The school has kept its intake number at 180, leaving 46 vacancies, a fairly clear signal that it is expecting a high rate of success at appeal, with 26 out of 45 cases being upheld in 2018. Along with Holcombe Grammar, Chatham accepts a pass mark in the Kent Test as of an equivalent standard to a Medway Pass. If late applicants find they are not allowed to take the Medway Test, then apply for a Kent grammar school place, and depending on your mark, you may be offered a place at Chatham Girls or apply for an appeal. 
Last year I wrote that  FP is the only grammar school in Kent or Medway which has resolutely refused to increase its PAN from the 120 it had maintained for many years. It has suddenly decided to increase this to 150 places for 2019, although there is no obvious reason for the change, with just two more first choices than in 2018. The Independent Appeal Panel has never upheld more than four appeals in recent years, all girls who have passed the Medway Test, with the Appeal Panel enforcing the Review rules tightly. 
There is no doubt that in terms of Medway Madness, Holcombe Grammar rises above all others with the number and seriousness of its management failures, set out in various articles on this website, including here, the Sixth Form drop out rate at the end of Year 12 increasing to  a shocking 30%. I thought they were over for the year when I published my article on its proposed unlawful admission arrangements for 2019 admission as ruled and rejected by the Schools Adjudicator . I have now come across a subsequent objection partially upheld by the Schools Adjudicator in January 2019. This is scathing about Holcombe's failure to implement the Adjudicator's instructions upon upholding my complaint. The Adjudicator also upheld a complaint that the school had used 'challenging behaviour' as reported by a previous school to rule an applicant out, with the school following Medway Council's procedures for considering such references, contrary to the Code. He also confirms the equivalence of a pass in the Kent and Medway Tests as a qualification for admission.
Holcombe has kept its intake number at 150 in spite of a further fall in first choices, but has filled on application with out of Medway boys. I have no idea what will happen at appeal following the 2018 debacle, as explained in several articles, most recently here  
This is the second year of the school’s switch away from super-selective to giving priority to local children. The number of first preferences has gone up  again and, pleasingly for school and local families I am sure, the number of disappointed first preferences has reduced again to 27 as ooc applicant numbers have fallen, helped by the school maintaining its intake number at 235 children for a second year, up from 205.  Appeal Panels rarely awarded places to more than six children before the change in priority, almost exclusively those who have passed the Medway Test. In 2018 the 11 appeals upheld again went to children who had succeeded at the Medway Test.
After the Schools Adjudicator scrapped part of Rochester Grammar's proposed new entrance criteria, they were left with the addition of children from named feeder schools, siblings and children of members  of staff who had pass the Medway Tet at any score. The school also reduced its intake of 205 girls for the previous two years, to 175. As a result the required score for most applicants soared to an aggregate of 550, or 58 points above the pass mark for the other five schools, creating a record 121 girls all grammar school qualified who put the school in first place were turned away. 74 of the offers came from outside Medway, including 38 from Kent, 15 from Bexley, 8 from Greenwich and 5 from Bromley. 
There will be a large number of appeals. Could the school indicate tot he Appeal Panel that it would put another form or entry on. In 2018,  eight of the 47 appeals were upheld. 
All will change for 2020 admissions, when the school completely scraps admission through high scores and moves to a pattern of admission by nearness to the school for most girls in order to attract government funding of £3 million for new premises. For details see here. Has the reduction of admission numbers to 175 this year been in order to justify the money being used to expand the PAN back to 205? 
 Has kept the 2018 increase on PAN from 180 to 203, turning away 70 grammar qualified first choices, up from 54 in 2018. It also gives priority to those living nearest, so it is no surprise that it offered to 196 first choices and 5 second. The 2018 appeal pattern of success changed for 2018, with 42 of the 56 who appealed having been assessed Grammar, including all  whose appeals were upheld.  Following poor management, the Williamson Trust comprising The Math, Hundred of Hoo non-selective school and four primary schools was taken over by the Leigh Academy Trust in a heavy blow to this historic and prestigious school. It is too soon to see what difference this will make to The Math, although the Leigh Trust has been historically opposed to selection at eleven. As noted above, The Math withdrew its proposals to change its admission criteria before my filed complaint was considered. However, surprisingly a previous attempt to impose the same rules had already been rejected, so it was unlikely they would prosper a second time. 

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