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Sunday, 15 November 2020 12:57

School Appeals: Kent and Medway 2020


This article looks at Year Seven and primary school admission appeals in Kent and Medway. 2020 has seen a very different way of conducting appeals because of coronavirus, which I have explored in several previous articles most recently here. In the event, the large majority were conducted in a paper hearing, without direct parental involvement. The number of appeals for both grammar and non-selective schools were very similar to 2019, although the success rates for both in Kent schools fell,  grammar from 29% to 22%, non-selective from 24% to 19%. The number of complaints against appeals has fallen, suggesting a level of acceptance about the different process. 

There is no pattern with Medway schools, Chatham Grammar upholding an astonishing 94% of appeals, Sir Joseph Williamson's 10%. Rochester Grammar's appeal numbers have fallen sharply with its popularity this year.  Rainham School for Girls putting all 37 appellants through after a group hearing, and Strood Academy upholding just 4%.  

The most difficult area to win a grammar school appeal is once again in North West Kent, although the two Thanet grammar schools have been very difficult this year. Highest success rates were as usual at Simon Langton Girls with 71% and Maidstone Girls with 69%. Not one of the 64 appeals at Wilmington Girls' Grammar was upheld.  For non-selective schools, success rates range from 0% at Bennett Memorial, Brockhill, Leigh Academy, Maplesden Noakes, St Augustine Academy, St Simon Stock, the new Maidstone School of Science and Technology, and Wye through to 100% at Skinners Kent Academy, Valley Park and Whitstable. Many appellants for non-selective schools are offered places before the appeal, usually as successes at grammar school appeals reduce numbers. This year 66 children were offered places at Valley Park in this way. 

You will find further details below, including primary appeals heard by Local Authority Panels. There is appeal panel data (along with other information) for each secondary school in Kent and Medway here (currently being updated; please let me know if you need the information for a particular school).

This is a lengthy and complex article, and so if you spot any errors or omissions, please let me know. I am aware from previous years, that this article is seen as of great value to many parents. However, please note that I am no longer able to offer individual advice on admissions or appeals. There are copious advice and information via the links in the Panels to the right.

 I am very grateful to all the 80 schools which held appeals, everyone, as usual, providing me with the relevant information (some via KCC) .   

Follow the links to find my general appeal information and advice for Kent Grammars, Medway Grammars, and oversubscription for grammars and non-selectives. Other recent articles include Medway Test outcomes for 2021 admission (Kent still to come, but 2020 data here) and Kent GCSE results for 2019 (this year's outcomes are not being published). I am aware that most parent browsers will only be interested in specific areas, although this type of article is also widely read by professionals who are interested in a fuller look. To help the former, you may find the following links helpful.

     Grammar      Non-Selective
East Kent East Kent
Mid Kent Mid Kent
NW Kent NW Kent
West Kent West Kent
Medway Medway

 Most Kent secondary schools are Academies, Foundation or Voluntary Aided schools, with the right to choose their Appeal Panel provider. Both grammar and non-selective schools split roughly equally between Panels provided by KCC and other providers. It is my observation that the independence of Panels is declining in the sense that they are more closely following the wishes of schools in terms of numbers of appeals upheld, possibly to ensure retention of their contracts. 

There are four main groups of Appeal Panel providers: KCC Legal and Democratic Services Department (independent of the education department), which looks after 38 Kent and five Medway secondary schools, most Kent primary schools and a number of others in neighbouring authorities, using paper-based appeals; Educationappeals Dotcom Ltd, which operates out of Hertfordshire, seven Kent schools (video conferencing); Clerks Associates, eight Kent and Medway schools, mainly from the Leigh Academy Trust and  Swale Academies Trust (video conferencing); and an independent administrator organising eleven schools in the north of Kent, and Medway (paper-based).   

Given the positive way that paper-based appeals have been received, the removal of a tremendous amount of stress from parents, and the lack of complaints (see below), I can see some panel organisers being keen to continue with the practice. Certainly, many schools will have preferred it, in view of the simplification at this immensely pressured time, along with cost savings on hearing arrangements. I suspect that the main driver of lower success rates this year is of schools not wanting to face up to overcrowded classrooms because of social distancing.

Kent & Medway School Appeals 2020
Number of Schools Heard  Upheld 
Grammar  32  1966 443  22%
Non-Selective 36  732  142  19%
Infant/Primary Breach  107  243  1 0.4% 
Infant/Primary (other) & Junior (one school)  11  18  11  61%
Grammar 6 292 101


Non-Selective 5


53  39%
 Infant/Primary  12 44  0 0%
Junior   0 0 N/A

 You will find outcomes of all individual secondary school appeal outcomes for Kent here and Medway here over recent years including most for 2020 (please contact me if you want 2020 appeal data for one of those not yet published). The parallel article on appeal outcomes in 2019 is here. I don't collect details of Reception appeals for the small number of individual primary schools that organise their own appeals, as success rates are likely to be equally low because of Infant Class Legislation.

Whilst many schools will tend to see similar patterns year on year, circumstances for individual schools can change sharply, as can be seen from the Individual Schools tables.

Complaints about Appeals
Back in 2016/17, There were 234 complaints nationally about appeals for admission to academies, with 6 upheld as having possible injustice. These would have led to a fresh appeal in most cases.  21 of the complaints were against Kent schools and four in Medway, although none were upheld.

For 2019-20, the number of complaints has fallen sharply to 104 nationally, although the number of academies has increased greatly, with 16 in Kent and three in Medway. Of these, there was just one in Kent which may have caused possible injustice, with all being concluded by the end of July. I have also looked at the six Ombudsman cases concluded in 2019-20 relating to Kent schools under KCC control. None found injustice.  This suggests there is a high degree of satisfaction from families about this year's enforced new procedures. 

Next Page: Individual Districts for Grammar School Appeals

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Last modified on Saturday, 16 October 2021 17:57

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