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Friday, 18 October 2019 19:57

Kent and Medway School Appeal Outcomes: 2019

This article looks at Year Seven and primary school admission appeals in Kent and Medway, conducted by Kent County Council, Medway Council and a number of private providers. There is a sharp rise in the number of secondary school appeals from the 2018 figures, with grammar school numbers rising from 2027 to 2258, and non-selective appeals from 678 to 895. Anecdotally, there is also a sharp rise in the number of secondary appeals in year and taking place outside the normal dates.

The headline statistic for the second year running is for Holcombe Grammar, a school that once saw a decent success rate as it recognised academic potential in local Chatham boys, but oversaw a shambles in the appeals of 2018, and now had just one appeal upheld in 2019 out of 53 heard.

As usual, there is no obvious pattern amongst non-selective schools, although I look at outcomes in each District below. The four Dartford grammars had just 18 successful appeals between them, out of 426, with Dartford Girls for the second time in three years having none. Dane Court and Dartford Grammars had the most appeals heard, at 130 each. The highest success rates at  grammar school appeals in 2019 are led this year by Highsted at 86% of appeals upheld, followed by Chatham Girls at 81%; Simon Langton Girls at 70%, and Maidstone Girls Grammar at 66%. The rise in successful Chatham Grammar Appeals has seen the overall Medway grammar pass rate to 29% to match the Kent grammar pass rate.  

 Further details below, including primary appeals heard by Local Authority Panels. You will find appeal panel data (along with other information) for each secondary school in Kent and Medway here (currently being updated; please let me know if you need the information for a particular school).

Please Note that I am no longer able to offer individual advice on admissions or appeals. There is copious advice and information via the links in the Panels to the right.

 I am very grateful to all the 73 schools (some via KCC) which held appeals, all of whom have sent me responses. 

Follow the links to find my general appeal information and advice for Kent Grammars, Medway Grammars, and oversubscription for grammars and non-selectives. Other recent articles include Medway Test outcomes for 2020 admission (Kent still to come, but 2019 data here) and Kent GCSE results 2018 (this year's outcomes still awaited and will be published here).

Most Kent secondary schools are Academies, Foundation or Voluntary Aided schools, with the right to choose their Appeal Panel provider. The grammar school split has been roughly equal between Panels provided by KCC and other providers for some years, although more non-selective schools are now choosing KCC Panels. It is my observation that the Independence of Panels is declining in the sense that they are more closely following the wishes of schools in terms of numbers of appeals upheld, possibly to ensure retention of their contracts. 

Kent & Medway School Appeals 2019
  Number of Schools Heard  Upheld 
Grammar  32  1982 570 1412  29%
Non-Selective 30  727  172  555  24%
Infant/Primary Breach  101  170  2  168  1%
Infant/Primary (other)  4  6  5  1  83%
Junior (2017)  6  8  5  3  63%
Grammar 6 276 81 195


Non-Selective 5


32  136  19%
 Infant/Primary 53  1  16 6%
Junior   2 2 0 100%

 You will find outcomes of all individual secondary school appeal outcomes for Kent here and Medway here including all for 2019. Several pages are out of date because of pressure on time but at the time of writing, all appeal data has been updated. The parallel article on appeal outcomes in 2018 is here. I don't collect details of Reception appeals for the small number of individual primary schools, that organise their own appeals, as success rates are likely to be equally low because of Infant Class Legislation.

Whilst many schools will tend to see similar patterns year on year, circumstances for individual schools can change sharply, as can be seen from the Individual Schools tables, with some examples below, including the first two cited.

Grammar School Appeals
Whilst there is a set academic standard for the Kent and Medway Tests, Independent Appeal Panels will set their own standard, which can vary according to pressure on places, space available and school expectations. Where KCC is the administration body, I have not been provided with a breakdown of appeals upheld between children who have previously been found selective and are appealing because the school is full, and those who have been found non-selective who may be appealing on both grounds. Such appeals are organised by the KCC Legal and Democratic Services Department, independent of education. For other grammar appeals, I have been supplied with a breakdown of outcomes for both groups of children.
East Kent
There are two grammars whose pattern of appeals has changed. Simon Langton Boys has expanded by 30 places to 150, with all grammar qualified first choices being offered places for the first time on many years. As a result all the 21 appeals were from boys who had been unsuccessful at the Kent Test, with 10 successful. With four forms of entry there were usually eight each year! Chatham and Clarendon Grammar in Ramsgate which had seen over 50 successful appeals in previous year was attacked in the media by the Head of the  neighbouring Dane Court Grammar headteacher for the high numbers of appeals being upheld.  Perhaps as a result, the number of appeal successes fell to just 18 for 2019 entry. Meanwhile Dane Court saw a success rate of 11% in 2018 rise to 31% this year.

Simon Langton Girls continues to see a high rate of success with 31 out of 44 appeals being upheld, the second highest rate for a grammar school in Kent. Add this to Canterbury girls having the by far the highest  rate of successful Headteacher Assessments for either gender in any District at 14% of the total roll, which results in by some way the largest proportion of pupils who had not been found successful through the Kent Test being accepted into grammar school. At Barton Court, the third and mixed grammar there were 64 appeals all for children initially deemed non-selective, 12 were upheld, and another 26 were found selective, but were placed on a waiting list as the Panel considered there was not enough room.

Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School,  Faversham (mixed), continues to draw pupils not only from Faversham but Whitstable and the villages towards Canterbury and Sittingbourne. The school has a different pattern of appeals being upheld to that of most oversubscribed grammar schools. Each year around half of the 33 appeals heard are from children already found selective, half of the total being upheld, and half of the successes come from children who had not been found selective under the Kent Test. For 2019, 45% of appeals were upheld. 

Highsted Grammar (girls) saw the highest rate of success at appeal in a Kent grammar schools at 86%, with 19 out of 22 appeals being upheld, on top of the Highsted Test which saw an additional 29 girls found of grammar school ability over and above those found selective through the Kent Test. The equivalent boys' school in Sittingbourne, Borden Grammar School, also had a high level of success with 61% of the 38 appelas being successful.    

Harvey Grammar continues low with 14% of appeals being upheld. 

Mid Kent
The main changed since 2018 is that after several years having the highest rate of admission appeals upheld of any grammar school in Kent, Invicta Grammar has seen a complete reversal with just 22% being awarded a grammar school place, well below the county average. This sees Maidstone Girls Grammar become second highest percentage of appeals upheld in Kent at 66% with 58 places to fill, with Oakwood Park at 58%. The expansion of Maidstone Grammar has meant that once again the large majority of the 68 appeals are for non-selective boys, several of the 14 being successful having  moderate cases, a couple having been turned down at Oakwood.  
Once again both of the Ashford grammars have high success rates, with Highworth taking in  60% of appellants, perhaps to aid its case for expansion.  
North West Kent
I feel so sorry for those Dartford local children who are near misses in the Kent Test with strong academic records, as their chances of success at appeal are minimal. They almost certainly won’t get in at the two Dartford Grammars which expect even local boys and girls to gain strong passes if they are to be offered places on appeal, although Dartford Girls saw no successes for the second time in three years.  London families chasing places push the out of area requirement ever higher, with Dartford Grammar regularly setting the highest Kent Test requirement for outers in the county. The two Wilmington grammars have moved to give priority for most of their places to local children, so most of the outers are now siblings, a proportion which will shrink over the years. Those with an exceptional record may stand a small chance at appeal for the two Wilmingtons, but as the 2019 statistics show, don’t get too excited for next year. 
 Appeal Outcomes at Dartford
Grammars in 2019
   Appealed  Upheld
Grammar Assessed
% Upheld
Dartford   130  6 6 5% 
 91  0 0 0% 
 114 8  3 7% 
 91 4 4 4% 

Appeal Panels at both Gravesend grammar schools appear to favour local children at appeal. Gravesend Grammar had 64 appeals for boys, with 15 upheld, all from Kent, 10 of whom had previously been unsuccessful in the Kent Test. Mayfield Grammar saw 16 of its 44 appeals for girls upheld, 11 not having previously been found selective. 

West Kent
Very different outcomes across the District, biggest change being at Tunbridge Wells Girls Grammar which saw a fall in the number of applicants for some reason. As a result all 30 appeals were for girls who had been unsuccessful in the Kent test, of whom eight were upheld, a similar total to previous years, but which had seen nearly all success being from grammar qualified girls who had lost out on distance. The three super selective schools had 16 appeals upheld between them out of 141, with just two for boys previously non-selective. 
West Kent Appeals 2019
  Appeals Upheld
Cranbrook 26 1
Judd 58 9
Skinners 53 4
Tonbridge 30 2
TWGGS 30 8
TWGSB 61 27
Weald 96 19
The Skinners School changed its admission rules considerably for  September 2019 admission, and I wrote an article about this, together with my thoughts about differences in appeals. In the end just four out of 53 appeals were successful all for boys previously found selective. 16% of appeals at The Judd School saw most successes with 9 appeals upheld. Weald of Kent had 17 successes out of 70, although most if not all would have been directed to the Sevenoaks annexe site where there was still space. 
There are a range of issues surrounding the Medway Test and the follow up Review process reported most recently here for 2020 admissions. With just 4 children out of 202 being successful at Review, any child that was not awarded an automatic pass on the one off Test depends on the appeal process to secure a grammar school place. As the table below shows, success is most unlikely with just six children who had not been found selective initially, having appeals upheld, apart from Chatham Girls Grammar. Holcombe Grammar had just one success out of 53, and there were just three boys previously assessed non-selective having appeals upheld at Sir Joseph Williamson's. Rainham Mark Grammar had just one boy or girl who had not passed being successful at appeal,. Fort Pitt Grammar two girls and The Rochester Grammar none. 

Medway Grammar Appeals 2019
Appeals Upheld %
Chatham Girls* 45 26 58%
Fort Pitt 28 4 14%
Holcombe 53 1 2%
Rainham Mark 43 9 21%
Rochester 48 5 10%
Sir Joseph Williamson 46 15 33%

*Chatham Girls data for 2018, with 2019 results awaited.

This section and indeed the county appeals news is inevitably led by events at Holcombe Grammar, which last year saw the most outrageous and disgraceful appeal conduct I have seen in some 15 years of following outcomes (although there are certainly some other spectacular cases!). Even after the decisions were sent out there were weeks of chaos as the school and Medway Council argued over how to interpret them. The saga began here. For 2019, this school which previously served its home community of Chatham, a District with considerable social deprivation,  now reaches out to wherever will supply the highest performing pupils. To aid this it enabled just one successful appeal out of 53, depriving many local boys of grammar school places. A very different picture from Chatham Girls!  The other four schools had a similar pattern to previous years. 
Non-Selective Schools
Nearly all non-selective schools organise appeals after grammar appeal outcomes are known, as successful grammar appeals free up spaces and in some cases remove the need for an appeal panel completely.

In total 35 non-Selective  schools held appeals across Kent and Medway, 21 using KCC Panels (up from 18 in 2018), with 23% of appeals being upheld.

There are few common factors in any of these sets of appeals, as they reflect individual school and locality circumstances, so I suggest you consult the data for Individual Schools for details.   

The most pressured districts are Thanet and Maidstone. In Thanet, where four of the six schools are heavily oversubscribed as many families try and avoid the other two, there were  just 17% successful overall, although many families will have made multiple appeals. St George's CofE Foundation School, the second most oversubscribed non-selective school in Kent saw 12 appeals upheld out of 65. 

Thanet Non-Selective Appeals 2019
  Appeals Upheld %
Charles Dickens 32 7 22%
King Ethelbert  37 5 14%
St George's CofE 65 12 18%
Ursuline  24 3 13%

The depth of concern in Thanet can be seen by the large number of appeals to get into Charles Dickens School every year, although it was in Special Measures until taken over last year. Hartsdown and Royal Harbour schools have the lowest Progress 8 GCSEs in the County for 2019, with Charles Dickens not far behind, being fifth lowest.  

In Maidstone, there is also considerable polarisation of popularity amongst the non-selective schools. All six with appeals held these using KCC Panels. Valley Park, the most oversubscribed non-selective, had just five appeals upheld out of 59. 

Maidstone Non-Selective Appeals
Maplesden Noakes 45 6 13%
St Augustine 22 6 27%
St Simon Stock Catholic 13 1 8%
Lenham 4 4 100%
Valley Park 59 5 8%

 St Simon Stock Catholic School with its single appeal upheld, at least had a better rate of success than the two previous years, which saw none successful. Lenham School, with Special Measures cancelled by academisation under the Valley Invicta Trust, was the only school with 100% of appeals upheld, although Westlands ran it close with 98%, just one of the 52 appellants losing out. 

Other schools where it was difficult to win an appeal were: Brockhill Park (1 out of 19); St George's CofE, Gravesend (1 out of 22); Bennett Memorial (3 out of 39); Fulston Manor (6 out of 76); all with a lower than 10% success rate. 

There were a number of schools with no appeals upheld, often with small numbers of appeals: Hugh Christie (0 out of 1); Malling (0 out of 11); and John Wallis (0 out of 5).

Primary School Appeals
This year’s data, in common with previous years, underlines the difficulty of winning a Primary School Appeal where Infant Class Legislation applies. Across Kent, there were just two  appeals upheld out of 170, in Medway one out of 53, where a successful appeal means breaching Infant Class Legislation. The successful Medway appeal was one of 17 for LEA schools organised by Medway Council, with another 53 organised for academies by KCC which saw none successful  The successful appeals are often against mistakes made in the allocation process. You will find an  explanation of the reasons for this here. A few other schools, together with Junior Schools are not subject to this constraint and, with the low numbers involved, success is much more likely if you have a good case.
Last modified on Sunday, 04 October 2020 12:56

1 comment

  • Comment Link Thursday, 12 March 2020 12:23 posted by Claire Bartlett

    Hi Peter
    Please note that Highsted Grammar have posted on their website that their appeals this year will be held from 4th-22nd May. They will not be heard early as in previous years. PETER: Also posted in Individual Schools section

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