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Friday, 19 March 2021 18:53

Oversubscription & Vacancies: Kent Grammar Schools 2021


The pattern of grammar school allocations reveals chickens coming home to roost – but never mind the children. I have regularly written since last June about the unfairness of the Kent selection procedure that would be created by the coronavirus effects on schools unless changes were made, and so it has proved. My previous article on the Kent Test demonstrated a built-in bias towards children in West Kent and girls as a result, with further discrimination against children attracting Pupil Premium, suggesting that children from ‘ordinary families’ would also suffer.

Now, every West and North West Kent grammar is full, and all but one are oversubscribed with first choices, even though between them they have added on an extra  184 Year Seven places from last year. At the other end of the scale, there are 257 empty spaces in 13 East and Mid Kent schools, up from 123 in six schools in 2020.

The starkest example of the shift is at Maidstone Grammar which turned away 60 grammar qualified first choices last year, but has 14 vacancies for 2021 admission. At the far end of the county, Sir Roger Manwood’s which had 34 first choices rejected in 2020, now has 20 vacancies.

For children attracting pupil premium, 10% of the girls were found selective by the 2020 Kent selection procedure, and 7% of the boys, in total 8.2%, a fall of 17% from the 2019 figure.

There is an increase of 51 children from outside Kent to 466 in total, were offered places in Kent grammar schools, the main rises being at Gravesend, Maidstone, Maidstone Girls, Mayfield and Tunbridge Wells Boys, partly compensated by a sharp fall at Weald. 

I look below at the outcomes by area in more detail, including levels of oversubscription and vacancies. You will find full details of the Kent test process for 2021 entry here

Please note that some numbers below are approximate for two reasons. Pupils on Education Health Care Plans are not separated out in the data I have been provided with and I have estimated these. Secondly, KCC does not provide exact figures where numbers are less than five, which for example explains the approximation in OOC figures. For simplicity, I have again used my best estimate in such circumstances. 

You will find: the equivalent article via the links for: 2021 Kent non-selective schools here; an initial article on 2021 allocation here, that also provides cut off scores for the super-selective schools; 2020 Kent grammar schools here; and for Medway grammar schools 2021 here. You will find my analysis of the 2020 school appeals outcomes here, with a look at the expected pattern of appeals this year together with a look at late applications, here

You will find application numbers, appeal statistics and academic performance for the past few years, together with the Ofsted record for each school at the Individual Schools section of this website. There are links to the individual schools in the text below. Please let me know of any not up to date that you would wish to see, and I will revise them.  

Please note that all statistics in this website refer to grammar qualified children, both via the Kent Test and also through local Tests available through six grammar schools as explained below. 

To find allocation details and commentary for Individual Schools in:

North West Kent - go to Page 2
West Kent - go to Page 3
Ashford and Maidstone - go to Page 4
Dover and Folkestone - go to Page 4
East Kent - go to Page 5 
The six most oversubscribed Kent grammar schools in 2020 remain in the same order this year, apart from Skinners and Tonbridge switching places, but are remarkably joined by Weald of Kent even though it increased its intake by 35 places to 300. This is matched by a parallel expansion of Tunbridge Wells Boys Grammar, opening its own Sevenoaks annexe in September and still managing to be oversubscribed by eight first choices, having opened a new Maths and IT block and Sports Hall on the main site this year.

The two Wilmington grammar schools both increased their intake by 30 places to 180, with Wilmington Girls joining the list for the first time, so that all eleven West Kent and Dartford grammars now feature amongst those turning away more than 20 first choices (actually all have rejected 39 or more), with only Simon Langton Boys, 46, breaking the monopoly.  

Dartford 180 355 82 134 5
Dartford Girls  180  198 67  76 7
Judd 180  183 16 58 8
Tonbridge 180 143  29  30  2
Skinners 160 118 14 63 5
Weald of Kent 300* 78  12  102  22
Wilmington Boys 180* 52 20 136 6
Simon Langton Boys 150 46 5 38 9
Cranbrook 60 44 5 31 2
Wilmington Girls 180 43* 50 64 0
Tunbridge Wells Girls 145 39 5 37 4
Queen Elizabeth's 150* 18 5 40 15
* Admission Number Increased from Planned Admission Number of 2020; see area text below for details
** ooc - Out of County
I cannot recall a year in which so many grammar schools had vacancies, all in East and Mid Kent. Amongst the 13 listed, out of a total of 32, are four which were in last year’s table of most oversubscribed schools: Chatham & Clarendon; Dane Court; Maidstone and Sir Roger Manwood’s. Whilst Borden heads the list with its 38 vacancies, it reasonably expanded its Admission Number by 30 places to 150 this year following last year’s oversubscription and can reasonably expect to make up some of the shortfall following appeals. Folkestone Girls and Highsted have similarly expanded and not attracted the full excess. The concept of a grammar school standard in appeals can legitimately be elastic according to the school's needs as I established via the Local Government  Ombudsman some years ago. Parents may also wish to consider a late application to some of these school with plenty of room at this time. 
Borden 150* 38  45  8
Oakwood Park  160 32  84 20
Norton Knatchbull 210 31  84  30
Barton Court 150 29  63  7
Maidstone Girls 180 27 89 61
Folkestone Girls 204* 20  40  8
Sir Roger Manwood's 150 20  45  12
Highsted 150 17  32  11
Chatham & Clarendon 180 16  78  6
Maidstone  205 14  64  18
Simon Langton Girls 165 9  49  35
Dover  Boys 150 6 21 14
Dane Court 165 2  51  6
* refers to schools that have increased their intake number for 2021. 
Pupil Premium
It has taken me some time to extract the Pupil Premium data as it applies to the Kent Test from KCC, having initially been told it was not collected. I then had to ask for a Review to obtain the information, after it some of it was given out on Radio Kent. Given the significance this issue has assumed, after KCC’s failure to make provision to support those disadvantaged by lockdown, it remains a matter of concern for me to be told that it was just a confusion that created the problem.

However, I now have the data and it shows a 17% fall in the percentage of PP children being found selective, a total of 10.2% of PP girls and 7.0% boys being successful. The lowest rates were at Gravesham 5.4% and Swale 5.9%, highest was Thanet at 10.0% nearly twice as large, and Dover 9.8%.

Local Tests
Six schools, Dover Boys and Girls, Folkestone Girls, Harvey, Highsted and Mayfield offer an alternative route for entrance to children who have not passed the Kent Test, via a local alternative. Between them, a further 377 children were offered places, details in the local areas below, but still left Dover Boys, Folkestone Girls and Highsted with vacancies.
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Last modified on Saturday, 02 April 2022 05:52


  • Comment Link Thursday, 28 October 2021 09:41 posted by Max

    Thanks for all the wealth of information on your site. It really is an amazing resource. Living in Tankerton, the cut off distances to Queen Elizabeths are of particular interest. This data suggests that no children from beyond Whitstable have been offered a place in the last three years? Is there any point in applying in these circumstances? Of equal concern is that if this first preference is rejected then the other 'local' grammar schools (if as popular as recent years - save last years anomaly for Barton Court) may also reject an application as it is not a first preference. Is there any data on success of second preferences / third preferences? I can reasonably forsee a scenario where no school offers a place! PETER: I have now addressed this issue also raised by a couple of others in the Pressure Points section of my article.:

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 14 September 2021 07:55 posted by Receipt

    We moved in to Dartford in March 2021 near to Dartford grammar School. My son who is still going to Abbeywood School due to waiting list in Primary School in Dartford. For Kent Grammar school selection will he be categorised as Out of County or Local for the selection process? PETER: Local, provided this is a permanent address. Remember that Dartford recruits 'local' boys on high scores rather than distance, so if your son is successful he will keep out a boy who may well have lived in Dartford all his life.

  • Comment Link Sunday, 18 April 2021 08:31 posted by Sian Armitage

    Hi. Keeping an eye on everything, just wondering whether Hartley is still proving to be a black spot for boys? PETER: Not this year, as the pass rate for boys in Gravesham was very low. As a result they have made some offers to ooc boys.

  • Comment Link Sunday, 04 April 2021 21:37 posted by K M

    Hi Peter, do you know how many vacancies Oakwood Park had last year (if any!) in comparison to the number of appeals they had upheld? PETER: As the article states, all this information is in my Individual Schools Section, via the link on the Right Hand Side of this page. The October 2020 schools census records that it was full in Year Seven.

  • Comment Link Sunday, 04 April 2021 19:50 posted by East Kent Primary Headteacher

    I was expecting a surge of interest in the media about this disgraceful outcome to the Kent Test, one that you predicted last June. Since then nothing. Does no one care? PETER: Much of the local media is overwhelmed with coronavirus stories, expecially with reduced staffing levels. However, there is also now limited education expertise, and little interest in stories such as this that are a bit more complex.

  • Comment Link Wednesday, 31 March 2021 22:56 posted by Avi BM

    Thanks for the information Peter,
    Any reason why Gravesend is not covered ? Thanks,Avi. PETER: Try under North West Kent

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