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Thursday, 04 June 2020 16:01

Kent Primary Schools: Oversubscription & Vacancies 2020


There are 14% vacancies across Thanet so few pressure points or schools highly oversubscribed, the KCC Commissioning Plan noting: 'We forecast surplus primary school places across the district throughout the Plan period'. Just 25 LAAs for 1488 pupils, and 27 schools, a remarkably low figure. Most popular is Chilton (A), 31 first choices rejected following its Outstanding Ofsted and excellent KS2 results last year. This is followed by: Palm Bay, Margate (again), 25 first choices rejected, St George’s CofE (A), Broadstairs (primary section with 21 first choices oversubscribed); Newington Community, Ramsgate (20); Ramsgate Arts (F), 15; and Cliftonville (A), 10. There are just three other oversubscribed schools.

Over half of the Thanet primary schools have vacancies. Drapers Mill (A), Margate, TKAT Academy has 57% of its places unfilled in spite of its Good Ofsted Report and above average KS2 Progress performance, followed by Dame Janet (A), Ramsgate, 54%, TKAT Academy, Good Ofsted but below average Progress; Salmestone (A), Margate 53%, TKAT, Good Ofsted but very low KS2 Progress results last summer; St Joseph’s Catholic (A), 50%; Northdown (A), Margate 42% also run by TKAT, but Requires Improvement; Ellington Infant, 32%, Ramsgate. Whatever TKAT is doing to improve standards it doesn’t appear to ride well with parents.   

Three schools only out of 15 with more than two first choices oversubscribed. Sussex Road has shot up in popularity from eight turned down to 37 in 2020, perhaps reflecting its very strong KS2 results last summer. Next is Slade with 30, regularly amongst the most popular schools in Kent, followed by Stocks Green with eight. The new Bishop Chavasse (F) has still not caught on yet and has not quite filled. The Outstanding Ofsted for Ightham has come too late to influence applications and it just filled. Another school which also filled is Royal Rise (A), now an academy after being placed in Special Measures as a KCC school, which had 10 vacancies in 2019.

Three schools normally top the vacancy list, one of which was Royal Rise (A), now a Cygnus Trust Academy (previously St Stephen’s when it failed its Ofsted as a KCC school ). The other two are Longmead, with 63% of its Reception places empty for September, and in Federation with the nearby Hugh Christie secondary school, Good Ofsted in September 2019 up from RI,  and Cage Green, taken over as an academy last July, by Connect Schools, having failed its Ofsted shortly before. Five other schools also have vacancies.

Tunbridge Wells
Over half of the 20 schools are oversubscribed, again headed by Claremont, with 29 disappointed first places. Second is St James CofE VA Primary, the amalgamation of Infant and Junior schools last September proving popular, with 25. Next are Skinners Kent (A) with 22; St John’s CofE, 18; Speldhurst CofE 16; and Langton Green 10. The shine appears to be coming off the Wells Free (F) down to three first choices oversubscribed.

Temple Grove (A) appears to be improving in popularity year on year from being the least popular in TW in years past, and is full again for 2020, without the large number of LAAs which propped it up in 2019.

Rusthall St Paul’s CofE again has the highest proportion of vacancies at 30% of its total of 30 available, but this is a significant improvement on 2019. Going the other way is Pembury, full last year with 22% of its 60 places empty. St Augustine’s Catholic (A) also has 22% vacant spaces.   

Junior Schools
There are 26 Junior schools in Kent, most linked with Infant schools offering a straightforward follow on system, the infants having priority for admission.

This year all but one of the 1934 children applying for places at one or more of these schools was offered their first choice, a remarkable statistic, given that there were 34 in 2019.

Two schools have 20% or more vacancies (down from five in 2019) which may depend on other factors than their own reputation such as the number coming through from the linked Infant school, or other opportunities in the area. The dip in Tenterden Junior School numbers with 38% vacancies appears to reflect a parallel fall in Year Two at the linked Infant School. Christ Church CofE Juniors in Thanet has 25% vacancies but no specific linked Infant school. North Borough Junior, Maidstone with 22% vacancies, but none in 2019, appears to have lost some who would normally transfer from the linked St Paul’s Infant.

Not offered the school of your choice?
My normal initial advice still applies. Do not panic and take possibly rash decisions. There is nothing you can do for the good immediately, as you have to work through the laid down processes, and you can undermine your prospects by taking a wrong action.

You have the right to go on the waiting list for, and appeal for any school on your application form, where you have not been offered a place. You also have the right to make a late application in Kent to any school that was not on your original list, on or after 15th June, when the first reallocation of vacant places takes place to children already on the waiting list. You should use the KCC In Year Application Form and send it directly to all schools you are interested in as you choose, that were not on your application list. You are not restricted to just one school at a time. KCC will tell you which local schools still have vacancies on the day you enquire. This will not damage your chances at any school for which you are on the waiting list. If you are appealing and are offered a place at one of these schools in advance it may be taken into account. However, with the very low chances of success at appeal (see below), this is a risk worth taking.  

A large  number of children are offered places off waiting lists, most setting off a ‘churning process’ freeing up other places. You have nothing to lose from going on the waiting list for as many schools as you  wish. Sadly, chances of success at appeal are negligible in nearly all cases, as explained below. 

Primary School Appeals
Most Reception Class Appeals are governed by what is called Infant Class Legislation. Quite simply, you will not win an Infant Class Appeal if there are classes of 30 children in the Infant section, unless you have one of a few rare exceptional circumstances. Schools with intakes of, for example, 15, 20 or 45 children will run mixed age classes of 30, so fit the legislation. A few schools have an intake with a different number, especially some small rural schools in East Kent where this does not apply.  With Infant Class Legislation in place, there were just  two successful Reception Appeals in Kent out of 246 submitted, in Medway one out of 57. I also include columns recording places offered off waiting lists before appeals are heard, and the number of appeals withdrawn before the appeal was heard for other reasons.This table is for appeal Panels organised by KCC and Medway Council (most of the appeals for Medway academies are heard by a KCC Panel). A small number of primary appeals are managed by other organisations. Commentary here. You will find further information here.
Kent and Medway Primary School Appeals 2019
Kent Reception
Infant Legislation
246 161 2 159 74
Kent Reception
6 6 5 1 0
Kent Junior (2017) 8 8 5 3 0
Medway Reception 57   32  1  16 15


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