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Sunday, 15 November 2020 12:57

School Appeals: Kent and Medway 2020


Non-Selective Schools
Not surprisingly, the pattern of N/S appeals tends to reflect the popularity of individual schools, but combined with whether alternatives are especially unpopular, as is the case in Maidstone, Swale and Thanet. I recommend this section be read in conjunction with Oversubscription and Vacancies, Kent Grammar Schools, 2020 where the story starts.
East Kent
In Thanet, where four of the six schools are heavily oversubscribed as many families try and avoid the other two, there were  25 % successful overall with many families having made multiple appeals, including some to grammar schools as well. King Ethelbert and St George's CofE Foundation schools are the second and third most oversubscribed non-selective schools in Kent, with just one more school holding more appeals than King Ethelbert, St George's not far behind. 
Thanet Non-Selective Appeals 2020
  Appeals Upheld %
Charles Dickens 24 6 25%
King Ethelbert  50 6 12%
St George's CofE 46 9 20%
Ursuline  24 15 63%

Herne Bay High also had 50 appeals, with the revived Whitstable School under new management holding appeals for the first time in my memory, upholding all 31 children's appeals. Also for the first time in years, St Anselm's Catholic School in Canterbury did not hold appeals, but St Edmund's Catholic in Dover did, with 8 of the 15 heard being successful. In Folkestone, in spite of the unpopularity of Folkestone Academy, the shine appears to have come off the Turner Free School with seven appeals, outcomes not available because of small numbers. Brockhill continues to be very difficult, with just one year in the past seven seeing more than one successful appeal, with none again from the 17 in 2020. 

The situation in Swale continues to be very difficult as families on the Isle of Sheppey desperately seek places in the two nearest Sittingbourne Schools 

Sittingbourne Non-Selective Appeals 2020
  Appeals Upheld %
Fulston Manor 49 8 16%
Westlands 53 4 8%
Westlands had the highest number of appeals of any N/S school in Kent, even after making additional offers at allocation, with Fulston Manor in fourth place. For 2019 admissions, In 2019 Westlands had 51 out of 52 appeals upheld, which may have contributed to its decision to change provider to Clerks Associate, but this serves as a reminder that previous years data is not necessarily reliable. 
Mid Kent
The big story here is at Valley Park, the most oversubscribed school in Kent, turning away 172 first choices back in March, with Maplesden Noakes seventh rejecting 88. The big unknown is the new Maidstone School of Science and Technology whose admission arrangements take place outside the Kent procedure, as with all new schools, so we don't know how popular it was in its first year. As a result, it took 180 places from other non-selective schools, many of which will have come from its next-door neighbour, Valley Park. So, when VP was faced with an astonishing 73 appeals registered, it presumably suddenly found itself with spaces and made offers to 66 of the appellants before the hearings. Four others had to go to appeals which were upheld, with three more families withdrawing. 
Maidstone Non-Selective Appeals 2020
Maidstone School of
Science & Technology
8 0 0%
Malling School* 13 7 54*
Maplesden Noakes 42 0 0%
St Augustine 5 0 5%
St Simon Stock Catholic 12 0 0%
Valley Park** 4 4 100%
Wrotham School * 9 5 ?
* Both technically in Tonbridge and Malling, West Kent, but feeding into Maidstone
** 66 children were offered places before appeals were heard. 

St Simon Stock has had one appeal upheld in four years. Wye School near Ashford with an intake of just 90 children, attracting children from out of the town to this attractive village has had just four successful appeals out of 89 in six years. John Wallis CofE Academy becomes more popular year on year, partly reflecting the pressure of new housing. It had 34 appeals, of which just three were upheld. 

North West Kent
Secondary admissions and appeals in Dartford and Northfleet have been dominated for years by the pressure of children trying to get away from Ebbsfleet Academy under a previous headteacher. Now that she has departed to run a private school in Mallorca, Ebbsfleet appears to have settled down and children are no longer fleeing, with the result that there are few appeals at the other N/S schools in the area. Sadly she has written what, from the fliers, is a fictitious account of her time at Ebbsfleet, falsely claiming the school was one of the worst in the country before she took it on, and then falsely claiming that she took it to excellence, in the meantime blaming the parents of the children for all her woes. The book will be published in January. She wisely claims to be 'Anonymous' as the author. You will find a true analysis of the history of the school during those turbulent years here. I apologise for the diversion, but it makes me very angry.
However, the new Stone Lodge School in Dartford is oversubscribed with two of its 17 appeals upheld. To the East of the district are three of the most oversubscribed schools in the county, also under pressure from Medway children, below.
Gravesham Non-Selective Appeals 2020
  Appeals Upheld %
Meopham 33 1 3%
St George's CofE 30 7 23%
St John's Catholic 24 3 13%
Meopham School, along with Whitstable (East Kent), was a school in serious trouble a few years ago. Since their takeover by Swale Academies Trust both schools are now under pressure through the appeals process. 
West Kent
 The biggest change in the District is at Knole Academy under new management, which saw the school's popularity soar to being the fifth most oversubscribed N/S school in Kent this year. From seeing just five appeals in total over the past five years, it has shot to 33 for 2020. This is followed by Hillview School which has had just one appeal over the previous six years (also taking in large numbers into the Sixth Form, suggesting a further boost in its excellent reputation). Otherwise, there is not a lot to say here except that it is very difficult to win a place at the heavily oversubscribed schools, other than Skinners Kent Academy
West Kent Non-Selective Appeals 2020
  Appeals Upheld %
Bennett 32 0 0%
Hillview 25 1 4%
Knole 33 3 9%
Skinners Kent  6 6 100%
St Gregory's 14 1 7%
Trinity  15 1 7%
The five schools holding appeals each had a different set of outcomes, although similar to previous years. 
Medway Non-Selective Appeals 2020
  Appeals Upheld %
Brompton  55 10 18%
Howard 5 0 0%
Rainham Girls* 37 37 100%
Strood 23 1 4%
Thomas Aveling 17 5 29%
*for the last few years, 2020 being no exception, Rainham Girls has held a group appeal, inviting all appellants, before the individual hearings, then found there was room for all children appealed for. 
My March article on Medway N/S allocations began: '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'. Strood Academy, having taken in an extra 20 children clearly came under particular pressure, although it has only averaged three appeals upheld over the last five years. 
Primary School Appeals
This year’s data, in common with previous years, underlines the difficulty of winning a Primary School Appeal where Infant Class Legislation applies. Across Kent, there was just one appeal upheld out of 243, where a successful appeal means breaching Infant Class Legislation as explained via the link. This number is well up on last year's 170 for some reason. Most appeals were for places at Valley Invicta at Aylesford 11; Iwade 10; Greenfields 8; Queenborough 8; Valley Invicta at East Borough 7;  Davington 6; New Ash Green 6; and Wentworth 5. There were 11 appeal successes out of 18 in cases where Infant Class Legislation did not apply because classes were grouped in fewer than 30 pupils, also including some success at Willesborough Junior School.  
There were no Medway successes out of 48 governed by Infant Class Legislation, comprising 13 in five LEA schools organised by Medway Council, with another 31 organised for academies by KCC, including Cliffe Woods 11; Barnsole 7; and St Margaret's Infants 7. The main reason for a successful appeal is because of a mistake by the Admission Authority or school made in the allocation process. You will find an explanation of the reasons for this here. A few other schools, together with Junior Schools are not subject to this constraint and, with the low numbers involved, success is much more likely if you have a good case.
There will also be a few primary academies that use independent appeal providers or set up panels themselves, but these are likely to have very similar outcomes - unless you know otherwise!




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