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Friday, 20 March 2020 06:15

Oversubscription & Vacancies Kent Non-Selective Secondary Schools 2020


Commissioning Plan for Education Provision in Kent
KCC explains this as:
The Commissioning Plan for Education Provision in Kent is a 5 year rolling plan which we update annually. The 2020 to 2024 version shows how we will make sure there are:
  • enough high quality education places
  • places located in the right areas
  • places for all learners.

 Unfortunately, whilst the three points above may well be aims for KCC, my District Survey above shows that there is considerable shortfall in the first two of these. I appreciate this section may not be of interest to most of my readers.

I don’t intend to carry out a full analysis of the 162 pages, but draw some observations from the secondary schools section. It is unfortunate that the target is immediately nullified by the statement: For this iteration, we have reverted back to publishing forecasts that do not include the pupil places required to support planned housing and therefore they  will need to be read in that context’ . In previous years KCC has taken planned housing into account which makes sense. It is some years since I had a public argument with the then Director of Education for Kent, who insisted that county policy was only to build new schools after there were sufficient pupils to fill them. The new policy appears to revert to those days, when the ambition to provide places for all learners saw some being allocated schools in other towns, although in reality we are already there in Sittingbourne and Tunbridge Wells.

This shift in policy may have followed the current debacle in Thanet, where planned housing has not arrived at the rate expected, a new school has been cancelled, although as a result, 187 families are allocated to schools they did not apply for and which are not regarded locally as of high quality. A reported 150 families on the Isle of Sheppey home school rather than send their children to the local school, unable to get a place in one of the three Sittingbourne schools, all bulging at the seams.

Whatever, the shift in policy accompanies an optimistic short term plan, which now assumes that schools in various parts of the county will be able to expand to whatever size meets the need, never mind the clear statement in the document that the recommended size of secondary schools should be between six and eight forms of entry.

It is certainly not KCC’s fault that whilst they are responsible for providing a school place for every pupil, they are not given the power to bring this about, nor to provide enough high quality education places located in the right areas. This is partly because Academy Trusts now run three quarters of Kent secondary schools, and in addition problems with finding sponsors, getting approval and planning have seen delays in getting most new schools off the ground.

However, surely one function of the plan is to identify problems which it clearly does not, instead papering over the cracks, presumably hoping that 'something will turn up'. And so we are left with the situation in Tunbridge Wells where a proposed new school failed to find a sponsor, and KCC now appears to have whitewashed the school and its six forms of entry out of its planning, instead expanding the eight form entry Skinners Kent Academy by two more classes if it allows, and dispatching those children unable to be accommodated to schools in Cranbrook, twenty miles away, and Tonbridge as is already happening. In Sittingbourne large numbers of pupils are offered places on the Isle of Sheppey where many families are taking whatever steps possible to avoid the local school. In Thanet, KCC policy is in ruins.


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Last modified on Monday, 14 June 2021 17:00


  • Comment Link Friday, 27 March 2020 16:17 posted by Despairing Thanet Parent

    We are Thanet parents whose daughter has been offered Hartsdown after being rejected from all our four choices. We are in despair. Home Education is all wrong for us and we haven't got the background anyway. We can't afford private. Please give us some good advice. PETER: Sadly, I am afraid have little for you or any others of the 100+ families in the same situation. It is trite to say you will have to put up with it and hope the school is improving - I hear various claims that things are changing. What I think is important is that your daughter is given some encouragement about the school by you somehow.
    I just wish there was something else I could say.

  • Comment Link Friday, 27 March 2020 12:40 posted by MSST parent in waiting

    Are you suggesting that Maidstone Schol of Science and Technology may not open in September. PETER: The construction industry is closing down for the time being. There must be a risk unless the project is past the critical date. I have merely asked the question and am waiting for a reassuring reply

  • Comment Link Friday, 27 March 2020 12:36 posted by Seeker after Knowledge

    So which is the worst Academy Trust in Kent, Turner Schools or Brook Learning Trust?
    PETER: There were worse - Lilac Sky and SchoolsCompany, both corrupt, but both closed down by government. These are both small Trusts: Brook - three secondary schools; Turner - two secondary and two primary. There have been others, TKAT appears to have got its act together, but nothing springs to mind. I would go for Turner Schools on the scale of its misrepresentations and false claims about its awful performance.

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