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Wednesday, 04 March 2020 17:02

Medway Secondary School Allocations 2020: Initial Information and Advice.

Update: You will find up to date articles on Medway non-selective schools here and grammar schools here. The Individual Schools section provides much data on each Medway secondary school, although the commentary for each school is in the progress of updating. 

Medway Council has invested an additional £3 million this year to meet a potential shortage of secondary school places for September. This was caused by an increase in numbers, combined with a delay in the building of a new school - opening delayed until 2021. The investment, along with the support of local schools, has created an additional 185 new non-selective places on top of those available in 2019. The Rochester Grammar School intake has increased by 60 places since 2019, thanks to funding from the Grammar School Expansion Fund. The school’s new commitment to local girls has also reduced the number of London pupils it has offered places to, down by 55 since last year. Overall, there was a fall in offers of Medway school places to out of county children from 287 to 262.

The excellent news is that the extra places have enabled more of the 3480 Medway children to secure schools of their choice, with 91.1% being offered their first or second preference. The proportion offered no school of their choice has more than halved, down to 154, or 4.4% of the total.

Families will also find initial advice below on what to do next if you don’t have the school of your choice. I shall publish two further articles shortly looking at the outcomes for individual grammar and non-selective schools

 Life has been made much easier for me this year through the full co-operation of Medway Council, enabling me to get information out quicker for the benefit of concerned families.  However, the Medway Council Press Release to cover School Allocations continues to operate on a minimalist basis, grudgingly giving out limited information.

The two major differences since my 2019 article are the increase in non-selective places and the changes at The Rochester Grammar School. I You can find the 2019 articles for Non-Selective Schools and Grammar Schools via the links.

Medway Secondary School Allocations March 2020
Medway Pupils 2020 2019** 2018

2017

Number Number % Number % Num % Num
Offered a first preference 2791 80.2% 2937 89%

2580

79.4% 2505 84.3%
Offered a second preference 379 10.9% 381 11.7% 371 9.4%
Offered a third preference
112 3.2%     91 2.8%  115 2.3%%
Offered one of their six choices 3326 95.6% 2987 90.5% 3117 95.6% 3029 97.4%
Allocated a place by Medway 154 4.4% 313 >9.5% 142 4.4% 145 2.6%
Total number of Medway
children offered places
3480   3300   3259 3174 3008
 
Increase in Places
In January I wrote about the coming shortage of secondary places, a Council Committee having looked at the problems back in November, with a projected shortfall of 197 places for this year. The subsequent investment by Medway Council and the addition of 185 places by the schools since 2019 (there are various ways of counting this figure), has produced the fall in the number of pupils with no place of their choice. It is however, still tight with just two schools having vacancies at this time, Chatham Grammar (80 vacancies according to Medway Council, using the same Published Admission Number of 180 for each of the past two years, although the school reports it as 150) and Walderslade Girls (37, having expanded its Published Admission number by 20 to 180).

I anticipate that once again Chatham Grammar will increase its numbers through a large number of successful appeals, freeing up places elsewhere.  

The Rochester Grammar School
The school was awarded some £3 million through the government’s Grammar School Expansion Fund last year, enabling it to expand and dramatically change its oversubscription criteria to give priority to local girls and those on Pupil Premium. Previously the priority was for high performing girls, no matter where they lived. I have explored the consequences in my previous article and will look in more detail at the effect on other local grammar schools in my focus on selective schools, to arrive shortly. For there is no doubt that the decision has changed the local landscape of selective school provision. It will certainly be felt by Chatham Grammar which will see the loss of local girls to Rochester, compensating by offering places to out of county girls, and presumably seeking to make it up via the appeals process. 2019 saw a success rate of 81% of the 58 appeals heard for Chatham Grammar, by a considerable way the highest success rate at appeal across all Kent and Medway grammars. Of course this also has a knock on effect as local non-selective schools lose these same pupils during the summer as appeals are successful. .
 
Out of County Applications
The 765 out of county applicants represents another increase from the 736 of 2019, although the number offered places has fallen, primarily because of the Rochester Grammar changes.  

Over two thirds of the 265 out of county places offered to children at Medway schools are at grammar schools, the large majority at Rochester (83) and also Chatham (43) and Holcombe (42) grammars. For non-selective schools, the District of Walderslade part of which is in Kent north of the M2, Bluebell Hill and the Malling road over the Downs each play a significant part. 22 Kent children were offered places at Greenacre and Walderslade schools this year, with 50 Medway children going to at Aylesford, Holmesdale, Meopham and Malling schools. Another 46 Medway children have looked to Kent for a Catholic education at St John’s, Gravesend and St Simon Stock, Maidstone as St John Fisher Catholic Comprehensive in Medway continues to be unpopular. St George’s CofE in Gravesend picked up another 10. In total 140 Medway children were offered places in Kent secondary schools.

What can you do if you don't have a school of your choice?
As noted above, don't panic and make quick responses. There is nothing positive you can do immediately.  

So what next? If you are not awarded the school of your choice, then certainly go on the waiting list for every school you have applied for and still wish to consider.

You have the right to appeal to any and every school for which you have been turned down. My article on 2019 appeals should be taken as guidance only, with a breakdown of outcomes, other data and comment for each individual Medway school here. You will also find plenty of free advice in the appeals sections of this website at: Medway Grammar Appeals (complete with a warning about the Review process);  Kent Grammar Appeals; and Oversubscription Appeals (in the process of rewriting). There is also copious grammar school appeal advice on the 11 plus Exams website, although it is not Medway specific and in any case often written for out of county candidates who have different expectations and perceptions, so be careful. Mention of Kentadvice is banned from the site. 

Obviously, you should talk to your primary school who should be able to offer advice and, if you are not sure of the school to which you have been allocated, ask for another visit, which is likely to be as an individual rather than with the crowd who were there on Open Day. 

You also have the option of making a late application for a fresh school. Unfortunately, Medway operates a very centralised and convoluted process in contrast to Kent's simple system. As a result, parents and I have often found it difficult to pin down a shifting procedure, the Medway Admission Booklet being of limited assistance. The phrase ‘at the discretion of the Student Services Management Team’ is used too often in discussion. Medway Council has scrapped late testing for grammar schools, and at present there are no schemes for individual schools, so there is no way in except for Chatham Grammar and Holcombe. These offer places in return for success at the Kent Test, or an Appeal possibility if your child has been unsuccessful at the Kent Test.

Every year we see a considerable ‘churning’ effect as children take up places off  waiting lists, as children win appeals at higher preferences, and some unhappy families remove themselves from the state system, so don't lose hope! 

 

 

Last modified on Sunday, 22 March 2020 12:57

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