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Sunday, 07 March 2021 15:45

Medway Secondary School Allocations for September 2021: Initial Information and Advice

This article is triggered by the Medway Council Press Release on secondary school Allocations, which as usual contains an absolute minimum of information.  In summary: Of the 3,431 Medway children offered places, more than 96 per cent have been awarded a place at one of their preferred secondary schools. 4,459 secondary school applications were processed, including 1,028 children from outside Medway.

The major change in admission patterns this year is also referred to in the Press Release. This is the opening of the new eight form entry Leigh Academy Rainham for September, offering 240 places from 514 applicants, and well above its Planned Admission Number of 180, which will have a major impact on other schools situated in the eastern part of Medway, and explored below.  

The other piece of information I have obtained recently is the performance of Pupil Premium children in the Medway Test, below, showing a fall of over a quarter in the number passing, which will follow through into grammar school allocations. You will find the parallel article about Kent secondary allocations here

Families will also find initial advice below on what to do next if you haven't been allocated the school of your choice. I shall publish two further articles shortly, looking at the outcomes for individual Medway grammar and non-selective schools as I receive the data. The parallel articles for 2020 admission are as follows: for non-selective and grammar schools. 

For 2020 entry, there were 2527 children who took up places in Year Seven of Medway's non-selective schools, then 11 in number, the original Published Admission Numbers totalling 2415, rising to 2585 at the request of Medway Council asking schools to create additional places to cope with the pressure. Of these, Rainham School for Girls, Hundred of Hoo, Robert Napier and Thomas Aveling admitted 125 children above PAN between them to ease the pressure on places, with Brompton Academy and Rainham Girls both going well above their PAN. As with most new schools, admission to LAR in this its first year was direct to the school, outside the co-ordinated admission scheme for all other schools. 240 places were offered from 514 applicants, based on the fairly standard oversubscription criteria, who applied to the school by the general Medway closing date of 30th November 2020. The overwhelming majority of these children will also be holding places at other secondary schools, although Medway Council also handled applications to LAR, so will know who has made multiple applications and received multiple offers. The second offer will be mainly at the other three nearest schools above, all based in Gillingham and Rainham, so parents will have to choose between their two options. Those with offers withdrawn will, in turn, free up places in schools that will make late offers to children at the less popular Medway schools, the effect rippling across the Authority.
 
Pupil Premium
I have now obtained the data for Medway children in receipt of Pupil Premium who took the Medway Test. Of the 987 children on PP, 235 took the Medway Test, 65 passed, with one more of the 19 who went to Review also being found selective, a total of 66. For 2019, although I don't have the total number of PP children, 297 took the Medway Test, with 90 passing, none being found suitable through Review. In other words, there was a 27% fall in the number of children in receipt of Pupil Premium children passing the Medway Test this year. I am afraid this is more evidence of the unfairness of the selection procedure brought about by the coronavirus pandemic because of the failure of Medway Council to make changes in the procedure, which I, amongst others highlighted last year.  
 
 
What can you do if you don't have a school of your choice?
As noted above, don't panic and make quick responses. There is nothing positive you can do immediately.  

So what next? I have already written a general article looking at strategies in this very strange year, and offering considerable advice, but which contains specific advice relating to Medway grammar schools.  If you are not awarded the school of your choice, then certainly go on the waiting list for every school you have applied for and still wish to consider. 

You have the right to appeal to any and every school for which you have been turned down. My article on 2020 appeals should be taken as guidance only, with a breakdown of outcomes, other data and comment for each individual Medway school here. You will also find plenty of free advice in the appeals sections of this website at: Medway Grammar Appeals (complete with a warning about the Review process);  Kent Grammar Appeals; and Oversubscription Appeals (in the process of rewriting). There is also copious grammar school appeal advice on the 11 plus Exams website, although it is not Medway specific and in any case often written for out of county candidates who have different expectations and perceptions, so be careful. Mention of Kentadvice is banned from the site. 

Obviously, you should talk to your primary school who should be able to offer advice and, if you are not sure of the school to which you have been allocated, ask for another visit, which is likely to be as an individual rather than with the crowd who were there on Open Day. 

You also have the option of making a late application for a fresh school. Unfortunately, Medway operates a very centralised and convoluted process in contrast to Kent's simple system. As a result, parents and I have often found it difficult to pin down a shifting procedure, the Medway Admission Booklet being of limited assistance. The phrase ‘at the discretion of the Student Services Management Team’ is used too often in discussion. Medway Council scrapped late testing for grammar schools three years ago, and at present there are no schemes for individual schools, but I have identified a route in for late applications, via my earlier article, although only for Chatham Grammar (girls) and possibly Holcombe.  These two also offer places in return for success at the Kent Test, or an Appeal possibility if your child has been unsuccessful at the Kent Test.

Every year we see a considerable ‘churning’ effect as children take up places off waiting lists, as children win appeals at higher preferences, and some unhappy families remove themselves from the state system, so don't lose hope! 

Last modified on Thursday, 18 March 2021 13:37

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