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Friday, 27 March 2020 19:27

Oversubscription & Vacancies Kent Grammar Schools 2020


East Kent
This section looks at local grammar schools, but you will find a fuller profile on each school in the Individual  Schools Section of the website. This includes historical patterns of applications, appeals, academic progress and Ofsted records for each school separately. There is an analysis of 2019 Appeals here, and links to various other relevant articles on the front page. I am conscious that many browsers will be looking for information and advice on school appeals, and my specific article on Coronavirus and Appeals is here. At the time of writing, there is no further information on what the procedure will look like. The equivalent 2019 page is here.
I consider all these schools in the same section, as there is considerable movement between the geographical areas. 

The main feature of 2020 admissions is the greatly increased numbers seeking places at the two Thanet grammar schools, Chatham & Clarendon, and Dane Court. This follows an increase in the success rate through the Kent selection procedure for local children which rose from 19% of Thanet children found selective  in 2018 to 23% in the 2019 procedure. The 2019 figure is made up of the second lowest District pass rate in the Kent Test, at 14%, along with the second highest Head Teacher Assessment rate, at 9%. Too many children in local villages have lost out on a grammar school place completely as a consequence.

The parallel non-selective article on secondary transfer explains background to this outcome, with pressure to avoid two schools in the District leading to 187 children getting no school of their choice. One consequence last year was the very high number of appeals to the two grammar schools, as families sought any alternative schools, with 130 at Chatham & Clarendon of which just 18 were upheld. This, along with Dartford Grammar, was the highest number of appeals for any school in Kent. 

Dane Court has been oversubscribed for several years, but for 2020, the figure has shot up to 50 disappointed first choices. 163 of the 165 offers were first choices, so little room for any of those turned down at Chatham and Clarendon. In 2019, 21 appeals out of 68 were upheld, but clearly the number of appeals will rise further this year.

Chatham and Clarendon turned away 29 first choices this year as a consequence of the high success rate, against just one in 2019, no more than two of these could have been offered places at Dane Court. 30 of the 180 C&C places went to children who had put them in second or lower place, who could have been disappointed Dane Court first choices. So either way, there were at least 47 Thanet grammar school eligible children who were not awarded a place at either school, having applied for  one. I describe the interesting history relating to appeals in the Individual Schools Section, leading to 18 appeals upheld out of 130 in 2019.

The Kent Schools Commissioning Plan for 2020 (page 138) records that ‘The two Grammar schools in Thanet are both situated on sites where expansion is unlikely to be achievable due to site, planning and highway constraints’ , which does not augur well for appeals this year. Whilst not anticipating this year's surge in selective numbers,  it looks to an increase in provision in three years’ time from the proposed new Grammar School Annexe by either Queen Elizabeth’s or Barton Court grammars. This was expected to meet fresh demand in Whitstable/Herne Bay and somehow to stretch along to Thanet. Unfortunately, this has been turned down so it is unclear where any extra capacity is coming from.

The other heavily oversubscribed grammar school in East Kent is Sir Roger Manwood’s along the cost from Thanet, in Sandwich,  oversubscribed by 34 first choices, following a surge in numbers from having just filled in 2019.

Simon Langton Boys Grammar in Canterbury, which suffered a sharp fall-off in applications for 2019 as explained here, appears to have recovered its popularity for 2020, turning away 31 first choices for its 150 places. Meanwhile, Simon Langton Girls has the fourth highest number of vacancies at 19, its new replacement building programme coming up for planning approval in April. The third Canterbury grammar, Barton Court, just filled. I’ve not heard of problems this year at Herne Bay/Whitstable where potential grammar school pupils look to both Canterbury and Faversham for grammar school places, which was also the site of the failed grammar school annexe bid.  

Queen Elizabeth’s in Faversham also continues to be popular,  drawing applications from Whitstable/Herne Bay, although  many  have been unsuccessful on distance grounds in previous years, as well as attracting pupils from towards Sittingbourne and Canterbury. However, its level of oversubscription has fallen this year from 34 first choices unsuccessful to 21, for the school’s 140 places.

Borden and Highsted grammar schools in Sittingbourne both usually just about fill. Borden, which had four vacancies last year, is oversubscribed for 2020, turning away nine of its 116 first choices for 120 places. The school had by some way the lowest Progress 8 and Attainment 8 of any grammar school in Kent in 2019. The headteacher moved on to become Head of School at Barton Court in January 2020.  He is succeeded by Ashley Tomlin, currently Principal Deputy Head of the 2000 pupil Thomas Tallis School in Greenwich, one of at least eight heads including five in Kent grammar schools, who once worked for me at Gravesend Grammar and certainly has the determination and ability to make the necessary changes.   Highsted has vacancies for the third consecutive year, three for 2020, ever since it expanded to 150 places, even though it runs its own admission test as an additional route of entry, which saw 27 girls offered places by this route for 2020 (see above at Dover and Folkestone). 

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Last modified on Thursday, 25 March 2021 12:46


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