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Thursday, 05 March 2020 17:40

Allocations to Medway Grammar Schools 2020


Individual Grammar Schools

The links in the school titles (below) take you to the Individual School Section of this website, which contains considerable data, including popularity, appeal data and performance, for each school.

The school has had a recent roller coaster ride with admissions, as you can see from the Individual School Data. There is a question mark about the Published Admission Number with Medway Council claiming it has been 180 for the past two years, having increased it from 142 in 2018. Chatham Grammar, possibly in light of its low intake appears to have declared this to be 150 instead. Whatever, an intake of just 100 with offers to 36 London children still looks vulnerable. One can therefore expect another high rate of successful appeals, with 47 out of 58 successful last year, at 81% by some way the highest for any grammar school in Medway or Kent. The school has ignored the Review rule of not considering girls who were unsuccessful in past years, and I see no reason why it will be different for 2020 appeals.

The school has managed to keep its intake of Medway pupils, at 57 this year (59 in 2019), in spite of the RGS change of priorities and increase in places. This may be because of the different nature of the two schools. What is different is the sharp fall in Kent offers, from 25 to seven, losing out to both Fort Pitt and RGS, but replacing them presumably with London girls unable to get into RGS.  I have argued for years that given the imbalance in grammar school places for girls and boys, it would make sense for Chatham Grammar to go co-educational and admit boys. This would equalise the numbers for each gender. 

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. 

It looks as if the school, which last year just filled with first choices and with Medway girls, has lost out to RGS, but topped up with 20 OOC girls. Some of these may melt away, but I am sure will be replaced by others on a waiting list.

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 Holcombe Grammar beats all other Kent and Medway grammar schools hands down, 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 fell to 15% last year, from the shocking 30% of 2018, but still the highest in Medway and indicative of possible off-rolling. 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 , followed up here, when the school failed to implement the required changes.

Holcombe has kept its intake number at 150 filling again on applications from out of Medway boys. Boys from East and West Medway will tend to choose RMGS or The Math, and so it is the only possibility for those in the middle (most of Chatham) or on the Hoo Peninsula.

 I have little idea what happened at appeal following the 2018 debacle, as explained in several articles, most recently here, but with just one successful appeal out of 53 heard in 2019, I despair. There will have been a large number of local appellants who had not initially passed, but it is clear the school does not want borderline pupils, preferring instead to attract higher ability boys from London. Just three boys, initially non-selective won appeals at The Math (see below)The consequence is quite simply that if boys do not pass the Medway Test directly, their chances of securing a Medway grammar school place are negligible on the 2019 data (but if a girl it is high because of Chatham Grammar, above) I see no reason to think this has changed, except that the school has recently appointed yet another headteacher at Christmas who conceivably has a different view. The rate of turnover of heads is now running on average about one a year for some years past (although I have not  kept a full log of these).

This is the third year of the school’s switch away from super-selective to giving priority to local children. The data remains similar to 2019, with offers made almost exclusively to Medway children, although the main criterion is simply nearness with no Local Authority priority. 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 2019, eight of the nine successful appeals upheld went to children who had succeeded at the Medway Test.
For the first year of the new Admissions system, the intake number has been set for 235, having spent two years at 175, and before that 205, the increase in numbers being part of the commitment for the Grammar School Expansion Funding.

The second table, above, shows clearly that the increase of 60 places has gone  nearly all to Medway children, taking up most of the additional girls passing the Medway Test, along with 20 who would have gone to Fort Pitt last year. It is the nature of the OOC offers that has changed most, with a large increase to Kent girls, living nearest, at the expense of those from London, who have gone off to Fort Pitt and Chatham! Because of the school’s location in the west of Medway, the 65 Kent girls will be mainly from Gravesham, so I would expect to see an effect on Mayfield Grammar, its main competition that way.

I don’t yet have the Pupil Premium data to see if the two priorities of Pupil Premium and local children have had an effect.  

Clearly a strong first choice of the two boys’ grammars in Medway, popularity rising year on year with another sharp increase for 2020, turning away 105 grammar qualified first choices, up from 70 in 2019. All but 11 of the offers went to Medway boys, the remainder to Kent boys, several if not most of these coming from nearby Walderslade.

As the appeal patterns shows (via the link in the school name above)  most successful appeals are from boys already found successful in the Medway Test (12 out of 15 in 2019). It is likely that a high proportion of these are from the Hoo Peninsula, which although too far by road (the Medway measure), still have The Math as their nearest grammar school.

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Last modified on Wednesday, 14 April 2021 06:24

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