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Friday, 19 March 2021 18:53

Oversubscription & Vacancies: Kent Grammar Schools 2021


 West Kent

This section looks at local grammar schools, but you will find a fuller profile on each school in the Individual  Schools Section of the website. This includes historical patterns of applications, appeals, academic progress and Ofsted records for each school separately. There is an analysis of 2020 Appeals here, and links to various other relevant articles on the front page. I am conscious that many browsers will be looking for information and advice on school appeals, and my latest article on Coronavirus and Appeals is here, with links back to previous items. The equivalent 2020 page is here.  

 The bias in the Kent Test towards children in West Kent has had a considerable effect on applications to grammar schools. This can be seen in the table below, which shows an increase of over 150 Kent pupils being offered places across the seven schools. The majority of the new places are at Tunbridge Wells Boys, which is opening its new annexe for 90 boys in Sevenoaks, on the same site as the Weald of Kent annexe, the school having expanded by a further 35 places. the two becoming the largest grammar schools in Kent with an intake of 300 pupils each. The other places are found through at least 76 fewer ooc pupils being offered places. Apart from Skinner’s School, all have seen the number of first choices increase,

West Kent Grammar Offers 2021
First Pref
in First
in OOC
Cranbrook 60 0 102 44 +31 6 N/A
Judd 180 0 338 183 +11 16 -1
Skinners 160 0 246 101 -43 14 -7
Tonbridge 180 0 313 143 +32 29 0
TW Boys 300 +90 99 8 +18 30 >24
TW Girls 145 0 165 39 +21 6 N/A
Weald 300 +35 287 78 +34 12 -43

 The small Cranbrook School is unique in various ways, including its intake of 60 day boys at 11 plus, another 30 at 13, along with a significant boarding provision. The change from 13 plus entry a few years ago proved unpopular, and it has taken several years to re-establish itself, which has now taken off for 2021 entry, with a sharp increase of first preferences from 71 to 102.    

The super selective Judd School has kept its position as the most oversubscribed West Kent grammar with 338 first choices for its intake of 180 boys, of which 155 were offered places. Clearly the decision to give priority to local boys in 2018  continues to prove very popular, with just 16 boys from out of county, one fewer than in 2020.  The Inner residential area cut off score rose to 387 up from 385, with outers reaching the stratospheric requirement of 408, up from 407, the maximum available being 421. In  part the higher required scores are because of the increase in the aggregate pass score from 330 to 332.

The third year of the new Skinners admission criteria has seen the main distance criterion for boys in the priority area, defined as living nearest with a score of 360 or above, shrink even further than last year to 2.418 miles. This cuts out all of those living in Tonbridge as the whole of Sevenoaks and District. Not surprisingly, the number of first choices has fallen as parents become more realistic with their choices. Before the new scheme, Skinners admitted a large number of ooc boys, but this continues to fall year on year. There were just five out of 63 appeals upheld in 2020.

Tonbridge Grammar School also gives a priority to high scoring girls, with an aggregate of 380 for those in the Inner area (Tonbridge, Tunbridge Wells and Sevenoaks addresses), up from 371, and 399 for outers (up from 393). 188 143 first choices unsuccessful, fourth highest number in the county, and second largest increase from 105 in 2020, to Weald. Just 29 ooc places offered so some of the 35 outers will have come from further away in Kent. There were just 2 successful appeals for places out of 30 in 2020, down from 4 in 2019. However, Tonbridge has the second lowest staying on rate into the Sixth Form of any grammar school in the county (along with Highsted and Dover Girls), partly because of its offering only the International Baccalaureate instead of A Level.  

Although Tunbridge Wells Grammar School for Boys is often placed behind the super-selective Judd and Skinners schools on admission application forms, it has had no difficulty in filling the additional 90 places created by its new annexe in Sevenoaks, and still turning away eight first choices, along with others. For some years previously it has had to use temporary buildings on its main site to squeeze in all the boys wanting to come to the school, who were grammar qualified. Now, with its new teaching block with maths, ICT and food technology classrooms and sports hall, along with the new annexe in Sevenoaks, catering for boys in the north of the district otherwise faced with a long daily journey, it is a much more attractive proposition, and is now one of Kent’s two largest grammar schools with an intake of 300 boys. 20 of these will be coming from Bromley, presumably attracted by the proximity of the annexe.   

Tunbridge Wells Girls Grammar having suffered a fall in popularity in 2019 for some reason, has now fully recovered with its highest number of first preferences for many years, turning away a record 39 first preferences. It remains difficult to win an appeal, with five successes out of 37 last year, four of them already grammar qualified, but four others previously N/S placed on the waiting list.

 Weald of Kent Grammar appears to go from strength to strength, with its Sevenoaks annexe now well established. Not only has it added another 35 places somehow, it has the largest increase in first preferences in West Kent, the 78 turned down being by some way a record. Many of these disappointed will have come from outside Kent, with the ooc contingent tumbling by 43 girls, down to just 12.

Next Individual Schools: Ashford and Maidstone

Last modified on Thursday, 22 April 2021 07:06


  • 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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