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Sunday, 15 March 2020 06:41

Medway Non-Selective Allocations for September 2020

The major news is that Medway non-selective schools have rallied round to support local children by offering an additional 135 places for September, for one year only, to meet exceptional demand. This was needed because the opening of two new schools, originally planned to come on stream for September 2020, have both been delayed until 2021. As a result 2527 places have been offered in total, 122 more than the 2019 figure.  There were just 36 places left vacant at one school. The background is explained in more detail in my introductory article on secondary allocations, which should be read in conjunction with this one.  Because of the additional places, 83% of pupils placing a non-selective school first on their admission application form were awarded their first choice. This is up from 80% in 2019. Sadly, another 6.1% of pupils were offered none of their choices, although this is down from 9.3% in 2019. You will find a table  showing the allocation details for each school below.

Brompton Academy

The most oversubscribed school is once again Brompton Academy, setting a record for any non-selective school in Kent or Medway by turning away 249 first choices, over half of those who put the school in first place. It is followed by Thomas Aveling with 56 children disappointed. 

Two new academies are in the pipeline as explained here. The Maritime Academy, for all ages and sponsored by the Thinking Schools Academy Trust, was planned to open in September 2019, but is now on target for 2021, which has created this year’s pressures.  The Leigh Academy Rainham was also approved by government in 2017 for opening in 2019, but again should come on stream next year. Good news for St John Fisher in 2020, but worrying for the following year!

You will find the parallel article on Medway grammar schools here, with the Kent articles to follow.

Please note that there will be some 'churning' as successful appeals for grammar school places remove some children from the non-selective schools. There were 81 successful appeals at Medway grammars last year (up from 66 in 2018), but over half were for girls at Chatham Grammar, see table below. There were also 32 appeals heard at four Medway non-selective schools (down from 34) taking pupils from less popular schools, 19% of those heard being successful, see below. 

Out of Medway pupils
55 pupils from outside Medway took up places in Medway non-selective schools, 16 to Greenacre and nine to Rainham Girls. The large majority of the 141 Medway pupils going out of school are travelling to non-selective schools, with 36 heading for the two Catholic schools, St John’s in Gravesend and St Simon Stock in Maidstone, presumably to avoid Medway’s unpopular Catholic school, St John Fisher. 22 head down the A249 to Holmesdale, another 20 to Aylesford and Malling Schools.
 
March 2020 Allocations
The following table provides most of the relevant information, with notes about individual schools below. 
 
Medway Secondary Non Selective Allocations March 2020
 
Places
Available
Change
from
2019
1st Prefs
 
LAA 
Total
Offers 
1st Prefs
not
Offered 
Vacancies 
Brompton Academy* 230
0 465 0 230 249  0
Greenacre Academy 185 -15 135 16 185   0 0
Howard School 270 +5 232 0 270 6 0
Hundred of Hoo 305 +30 233  2  296 0 0
Rainham Girls 
300
+30 296
0 
300 
37 
0
Robert Napier 210 +30 109 18  210  0  0 
St John Fisher Catholic 185 +5 65 87  185  0  0 
Strood Academy*  260  +20 270  0  260  37  0 
Thomas Aveling 220 +30 244  0  220  56  0 
Victory Academy 240 0 181  11  240  0 0 
Walderslade Girls 180 +20 193  20  143 0  37 

Notes: * Refers to schools that apply a Fair Banding Test, see below for details. 

Fair Banding Test
Brompton and Strood Academies set the Fair Banding Test for all applicants. If your child has not taken this, they will be the last children to be considered for places. at the schools. It is explained by Medway Council here. It is not a pass/fail test, but designed to give each school a fair spread of abilities in its intake. The test places children in an ability band, numbers in each band to be admitted allocated according to a ‘normal’ distribution. Children are then prioritised in each band by distance. Because some 25% of children are taken out for grammar school places, this leaves fewer candidates for the highest bands.    
 
Non-Selective Appeals
 
Medway Non-Selective Appeals 2019
  Appeals Upheld
Brompton Academy 72 7
Howard 8 2
Rainham Girls 10 10
Strood Academy 30 5
Thomas Aveling 48 8
 
Individual Schools
The link in each school name will take you to its individual profile on this website. All data is up to date at March 2020, although several pages need updating, in progress.
 
Consistently Medway’s most popular school, turning away 246 first preferences. This is a record number for any Medway or Kent non-selective school over at least the last ten years, ever since I started keeping records. Chances at appeal are very low, as can be seen from the record over the past six years via the headline link. You will need an exceptional case to stand a chance of success.
 
Lead school in the Skills for Life Academy Trust, with Walderslade Girls’. These two schools are the furthest south in Medway, without the building development taking place across the rest of the Authority which produces pressure on places. Was going to reduce intake from the 2019 offer of 200 places to 180. Presumably the addition of an extra five places was to accommodate some of the children from more central Medway who missed out on their preferences. Hence 16 Local Authority Allocations. The two Walderslade schools appear to take part in an interchange of children down Bluebell Hill with Aylesford, Holmesdale and Malling schools.
 
Five extra places over 2019, 20 more than in 2018. Continues to be oversubscribed.  The Howard Trust also runs the failed Riverside (Previously Medway) UTC. This  sets up a conflict of interest with the latter recruiting from other Medway schools in Year Nine (but not very successfully, picking up just 54 pupils last September for its 150 places.
 
Greatly increased popularity this year, with good GCSEs summer 2019, showing it has thrown off a difficult history. 30 extra places and a record number of first preferences. These were all filled with just two LAAS.
 
Along with Thomas Aveling regularly one of the two highest performing non-selective schools each year at GCSE. Always popular and, as usual, third most oversubscribed school in Medway this year, even after taking in an extra 30 girls. 37 turned away, down from 63 in 2019. Usually holds an initial group session for appeals as in 2019, then finds it has room for all.
 
30 additional places for 2020, bringing total to 210, reflecting an increase in first choices by the same amount to 109. The school has filled with 18 LAAs.
 
Added in five places bringing the total to 185 to ease the pressure on places across Medway, but still had just 65 children placing it first choice. Another 87 were allocated there by Medway Council, having been offered no school of their choice, presumably few if any having a Catholic background. There is only a small chance of finding an alternative school in the area. This is in spite of the school having upgraded its Ofsted rating to Good in May in 2018, and its strong GCSE performance, third best for a Medway non-selective in 2019. Its very Catholic ethos proves very difficult for many of those without a Catholic faith to cope with.

The school is also unable to hold its natural recruiting area amongst Catholics and Catholic Primary schools (the latter according to families I have advised), with the two closest Kent Catholic schools offering 36 places to  children from Medway. The prospectus quote: 'we have a proud history of providing a world-class education for students from faiths and none' hardly fits the facts!

The school’s Catholic ethos is unequivocal: “The Catholic School is not just an environment providing a series of lessons. It aims to meet the needs of the young people today in the light of the Church’s faith in Jesus Christ. This means that a school’s Catholic character is witnessed to in all facets of its life. For the school to be truly Catholic this vision must be shared by all concerned with its work.”

Six years ago, one of my clients took Medway Council to the High Court  and won a case  with what has been described as an esoteric conclusion but is certainly of exceeding complexity (I defy any lay person to understand it). The commentary quoted above states: 'The judgement repays consideration for its analysis of the law governing the teaching of, and curriculum-setting for, religious education in schools and academies. This was about religious teaching in state schools'. One side effect was that  it forced Medway Council to find an alternative non-religious school for the family's son to attend, on the grounds that he should not be forced to attend a faith school with a strong religious ethos. If this is upheld again, families could win cases to one of the two Walderslade schools in the South of Medway with the Council being required to pay transport costs. 

A popular school, run by the Leigh Academy Trust, historically attracting some pupils from the Hoo Peninsula. Increased intake for 2020 by 20 places, the number of first choices increasing by nearly the same number. 37 first choices turned away, third equal oversubscribed school in Medway. Just five appeals successful out of 30 in 2019, the largest number for four years. See recent article.
 
Along with Rainham Girls, regularly one of the two highest performing non-selective schools each year at GCSE. As usual, second most oversubscribed school in Medway, attracting applicants from the neighbourhoods of less popular schools nearby. It turned away 72 first choices this year. Fewer than ten appeals have been successful in any recent year, for 2019 it was eight out of 48.
 
Victory has really established itself in the last three years, aided by a strong 'Good' Ofsted Report in 2017. The 181 first preferences is by some way the highest ever, Last year, and the 11 LAAS the lowest in recent years, filling the school at this stage. Last year it was also full on allocation and kept its numbers so full again at the recent October census.
 
Popularity continues to nosedive, down every year since 2017 to 93 the lowest ever. It has now been taken over by the Skills for Life Academy Trust, based on neighbouring Greenacre School (see Greenacre entry above) with the first green shoot, a Good Ofsted in December 2019. This praises the changes made.  Increased its PAN by 20 places this year, presumably in anticipation of playing its part in the pressure on places. However, the girls did not come and it had 37 vacancies, the only school in Medway with spaces. If you haven’t got a school, well worth looking at now.  
 
This car crash of a school, which has to persuade pupils from elsewhere to join it in Year Nine, picked up 54 pupils for 2019 for its 150  places according to the October census. The census data also suggests a number of these pupils came from St John Fisher. The school was run primarily by a group of business people (one hopes their business skills were better) and rightly was placed in Special Measures in October 2018, in one of the most negative Reports ever.  Shortly afterwards it was taken over by The Howard  Academy Trust which ought to do better, even though this places it in direct competition with The Howard School. 
Last modified on Sunday, 15 March 2020 16:46

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