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Thursday, 05 March 2020 17:40

Allocations to Medway Grammar Schools 2020

Index

Only one grammar school has vacancies on allocation - Chatham Grammar (previously Chatham Grammar School for Girls). 206 children living outside Medway have been offered local grammar school places out of 1071 in total. This amounts to 19%, or nearly a fifth of all the places offered. An additional 60 new places have been created, all at The Rochester Grammar School.

There were an additional 44 grammar qualified Medway children after the Medway selection process this year: boys up from 374 to 381; girls up from 405 to 438, continuing the annual bias towards girls being found selective. In total there are 585 places for girls but only 355 for boys available in the five single sex schools. This is on top of the 235 at Rainham Mark Grammar, a co-educational school. There are places for every Medway grammar qualified pupil who applied to appropriate grammar schools, but, as last year, chances at appeal for boys are  likely to be very low.

The Rochester Grammar School’s transformation from super-selective to a school giving local children priority, is looked at in more detail below.  The combination of this change and the increase in the grammar cohort size has resulted in another 68 Medway first preferences being accommodated in local grammar schools. It leaves Sir Joseph Williamson's Mathematical School (The Math) by a long way the most oversubscribed grammar school in Medway, with 105 grammar qualified first choice boys turned away. 

I look in more detail at the outcomes, including problems with grammar school process and applications, together with  the situation for each grammar school individually, below.

 You will find preliminary information on the 2020 Medway allocations here, with outcomes  of the 2019 allocation process here. Kent Grammar Schools and Medway Non-Selective places to come.

There are once again four strongly negative features relating to grammar school allocations in Medway, each looked at in more detail below. Firstly is the significant bias towards girls as demonstrated by the numbers above. Secondly is the disparity in number of places available, with three schools for girls and two for boys. Thirdly is the Medway Review which is not fit for purpose, failing to identify 48 children who ought to have been found of grammar school ability.  These are then further penalised in the appeal process, as explained below. Finally, Medway Council scrapped its late application process to grammar schools two years ago.  This deprives children whose families move into Medway from taking the Medway Test, effectively barring them from any Medway grammar school, and in my belief unlawfully. I have always thought that the Conservative Medway Council would be in favour of grammar schools and selection. This list of failures in process hardly suggests they care. 

Medway Test Bias towards Girls
I have explored this many times before, including an analysis in the Information Pages, here. The English Test (one of three) contains a single piece of writing that carries two fifths of the aggregate marks in the Test. As a result a child can gain a pass on the strength of a single strong essay, or similarly lose a place because they have misunderstood the extended writing question.
Ban on Late Grammar School Applications
The ban on any child from taking the Medway Test late is almost certainly unlawful and is discriminatory,  placing the responsibility on individual grammar schools for assessing academic ability, although these do not have the relevant process in place. The only way round this is for children to apply for a Kent grammar school, and whether or not they pass the Kent Test, they can then apply for Chatham or Holcombe grammar schools, but see below for Holcombe. 

Here is the summary picture for applications for each school; you will find further details below. The Individual Schools Information Section here  is also up to date with  2020 outcomes on allocation, although some updating on text is needed.    

Medway Grammar School Allocations 2020
 
Available
Places
Increase
over 2019
Available
First 
Prefs
First Prefs
Not Offered
Vacancies
OOC
Offers
Chatham  180* 0 66 0 80 43
Fort Pitt 150 0 139 0 0 20
Holcombe 150 0 74 0 0 42
Rainham Mark 235 0 251 29 0 7
Rochester 235 60 238 25 0 83
The Math 203 0 298 109 0 11
 
 *: This is the official Medway Published Admission Number, although Chatham Grammar appears to have reduced it to 150. It is unclear which is correct.
 
Offers across the Medway Boundary
The decision by Rochester Grammar School (RGS) to give a priority to ‘Children who live closest to the school’ has seen a shift in the pattern of offers, explored in more detail below, but in practice which has seen an increase in the number of OOCs at the school. This has seen more offers to girls in nearby Kent at the expense of London girls. I look more closely at the consequences of this for Chatham and Fort Pitt in the individual school section, below.  
 
OOC Allocations to Medway Grammars
  2020 2019
  Medway
Total
OOC
Kent Other
Medway
Total
OOC
Kent 
Other
Chatham Girls 57 43 7 36 59 75 25 50
Fort Pitt 130 20 12 8 148 2 2 0
Holcombe 108  42 26 16 83 67 19 48
Rainham Mark 228  7 5 2 222 13 11 2
Rochester 152  83 65 18 101 74 38 38
The Math 192 11  11 0 187 15 15 0
TOTAL 867 206 126 78 800 246 110 138

10 Medway girls were offered places at Invicta Grammar, Maidstone, and 6 boys at Oakwood Park. Fewer than five were offered places at each of: Dartford, Dartford Girls, Gravesend, Maidstone Girls, Mayfield, Oakwood Park, Tonbridge and Wilmington Boys grammar schools.

Review Process
Just 15 Medway pupils (11 girls and four boys) had a Review upheld out of 147 who applied, and three from the 32 in Kent schools. As a result, a total of just 23.6% of Medway pupils were found selective against a target of 25%, depriving some 48 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. 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 0.12% of the total, details here. However, this would be for an appeal Panel to decide, as historically those for Chatham Grammar has done. The other five schools encourage their Appeal Panels to support the rule, but this can vary year on year. See Individual School Information

RIC Masthead June 2018 1

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 to the one school alone. 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, as happens with six Kent grammars.

Details of Individual Grammar Schools on Next Page


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Last modified on Friday, 13 March 2020 18:28

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