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Sunday, 11 April 2021 19:53

Oversubscription & Vacancies: Kent Non-Selective Schools 2021


There was only a small increase of 37 in the number of Kent primary pupils allocated places at secondary schools this year but with 267 additional secondary places created. This leaves 724 empty spaces, a 5.1% vacancy rate overall, well up on last year's 3.5%. As a result, across the county, there were few extra pressure points in Non-Selective (N/S) schools. Key areas were Canterbury, Gravesham and Sevenoaks which had just five vacancies across their 15 schools, but Ashford, Dartford, Swale and Thanet all have localised problems created by polarisation of choices. Unfortunately, misleading information by KCC appears to hide a large shortage of places in Tunbridge Wells (TW). The converse problem exists in Thanet, where KCC is promoting an unnecessary new school in Margate.

The unpopularity of Oasis Academy Isle of Sheppey with its 108 Local Authority Allocations has propelled Fulston Manor and Westlands to the top of the oversubscription table.  These two schools are followed by Knole Academy, Meopham School, St George's CofE Foundation (Broadstairs) and the recently opened Stone Lodge School. Most of the others were also present in the table last year, apart from newly arrived Canterbury Academy, the new School of Science and Technology Maidstone (SSTM), The Lenham School and Skinners Kent Academy

There are 393 OOC children offered places in non-selective schools across the county, Knole Academy, Homewood School and Bennett Memorial Diocesan School all offering over 50 places to OOC children, with 252 travelling the other way 

The schools struggling to attract pupils are also broadly the same as last year, in most cases propped up by Local Authority Allocations of children who have not been offered more popular schools. 

I explore all these matters further, below, together with a survey of allocation patterns in each of Kent's Districts, together with changes in the admissions rules for Church schools affected by Covid. 

This annual survey of Kent non-selective places is the second longest article I produce each year (the largest is the parallel survey of primary school allocations), and the second most visited (after my Kent Grammar Schools Allocation page). I am happy to accept there may be corrections or expansions needed, which I will incorporate if these are pointed out, along with constructive comments.

Please note that this article is written for and read by a number of different audiences, so not all may be of interest or relevance for families, my prime audience. 2021 is of course a unique year because of the pandemic, and many families have had a harder year than usual navigating the transfer, not least because of the inability to visit schools when making selections. Most children have not even set foot yet in the school they are joining in September, so there will be additional anxiety for many. I apologise if this article increases that anxiety for you, but I do believe that openness and transparency still remain critical. What I am sure about is that every school will be doing its best to make the transfer process work as smoothly as possible and to offer the best education they can for the children joining them.   

The article follows on from my initial survey of 2021 allocations published earlier in the month, including my preliminary and more general thoughts with preliminary data. You will find the equivalent article here for 2020 allocations. The parallel article on grammar schools for 2021 is here with the 2020 Medway grammar and non-selective schools (2021 to follow). You will find a profile of every separate secondary school here, including admission data (currently being updated with the present figures), appeal outcomes, academic results and Ofsted records. It draws extensively on this year's edition of the Commissioning Plan for Education Provision in Kent (CPEPK) produced by KCC, which also contains an analysis of current provision.  

The first table below, looking at the county's most oversubscribed schools, includes last year's appeal outcomes which show a very low rate of success at most of these schools. In any case, I anticipate that appeal success rates at most schools holding appeals will tend to be lower this year, with a reluctance to see larger class sizes whilst the pandemic continues.My analysis of the 2020 school appeals outcomes is here, an article looking at late applications and the expected pattern of appeals here. There is also a further paragraph on appeals below

Kent County Council delayed the Kent Test in 2020, because of the pandemic. This meant that the release of test results now fell after the closing date for applications, and Kent extended the number of choices of school from four to six to cater for this. In the event, I believe that the allocation of places will have been very similar to what it would have been under last year’s arrangements. The main difference is that more parents will have put a grammar school in first place on their application form, not knowing the test outcome, and so numbers placing a N/S school in first place are generally down.

There are sections on Oversubscription, Appeals, Vacancies, District Outcomes, and Cross County Movement below, followed by a look at individual Districts, with direct links at: 

Page 4: AshfordCanterburyDartfordDover, Deal & Sandwich

Page 5: Folkestone and HytheGraveshamMaidstoneSevenoaks;

Page 6:  Swale ThanetTonbridge & Malling

Page 7: Tunbridge Wells

What We Are Seeking to Achieve
Our vision is that every child and young person should go to a good or outstanding early years setting and school, have access to the best teaching, and benefit from schools and other providers working in partnership with each other to share the best practice as they continue to improve. Focusing on commissioning education provision from good or better providers can assist in securing this vision. In order to address the commissioning needs outlined in this Plan we welcome proposals from existing schools, trusts, the three dioceses and new providers.

Next Page: Oversubscription, Appeals and Vacancies and District Summary

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Last modified on Tuesday, 06 July 2021 10:38


  • Comment Link Thursday, 22 April 2021 23:50 posted by P woods

    Can I ask why no one is address the issue on the Oasis Academy on the Isle of Sheppey? Numbers dropping more parents picking the overload Sittingbourne schools surely the RSC, DFE or KCC can see one provider and no choice is not working?

    Oasis is on two sites why can't one be handed to another school or even as an annex to one of the Sittingbourne schools? PETER: I am trying and have at last and exceptionally persuaded the Sittingbourne Messenger to run a large item this week! However, for reasons beyond my ken, local media and the BBC appear uninterested in such important education matters that affect hundreds of families each, and thousands overall. I keep being told it is shortage of staff that means they can't cover everything during the pandemic. This apparently includes children's futures.

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 13 April 2021 23:25 posted by James Thompson

    Is it a coincidence that the Leader, the Deputy Leader, the Cabinet Member and the Deputy Cabinet Member for Education and Skills all represent West Kent constituencies? Perhaps this is why they are all happy to sweep the scandal of non-selective provision in Tunbridge Wells under the carpet. Congratulations Peter on unearthing it.PETER: Sadly unearthing is not getting anywhere. I have been banging on about this disgrace for years, and can't even get the media to take note of it. Councillors can rest easily in their seats.

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 13 April 2021 11:26 posted by Max Bramer

    With reference to the proposed extension of Meopham school,little consideration seems to have been given to the impact on the rural area it was designed to serve. Catering for the increased demand for places in the urban area will result in massive problems for traffic flow and parking in Meopham as parents make aspirational choices to attend an "outstanding rated" school.More effort needs to be put into finding a site for Gravesend Central to put a school where the demand really is.PETER: Hello again Max after many years. As a long term resident of Gravesend, I also remain very puzzled about the site of a 'Central' School. The fate of the vaguely proposed North Sittingbourne School and the failure at Tunbridge Wells (both referred to in the article) are fair warning.

  • Comment Link Monday, 12 April 2021 08:26 posted by Phillip Rogers


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