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Tuesday, 20 April 2021 18:28

Oversubscription & Vacancies in Medway Grammar Schools for September 2021


The pattern of offers at Medway grammar schools for entry in September closely follows that for September 2020, which I looked at previously here. All schools apart from Chatham have filled. The main changes in popularity are the significant falls in first choices at Chatham, Holcombe and Rochester (all regularly featured in news items on this site). Sir Joseph Williamson’s Mathematical School (The Math) continues to be by far the most oversubscribed grammar school, turning away 108 first choices. There were also reductions in girls’ places at Rochester Grammar, which took some £3 million pounds from the Government Expansion Fund in 2018, to create additional places in exchange for a greater priority for children attracting Pupil Premium, and Chatham Grammar.


By coincidence, the number of Medway children found selective after the Medway selection process for entry to grammar school in 2021 was almost identical to that for the previous year with 386 boys (385 in 2019) and 438 girls in both years found suitable for grammar school.  This continues the annual bias towards girls being found selective. In total there are 505 places for girls but only 355 for boys available this year in the five single-sex Medway grammar schools, as well as 235 at the co-educational Rainham Mark Grammar. There are places for every local Medway grammar qualified pupil but, as in previous years, chances at appeal for local boys in any school are likely to be very low. 210 children living outside Medway have been offered local grammar school places out of 1045 in total. This amounts to 20%, a fifth of all the places offered, see below.

You will find more details including a table showing offers and allocations below, out of county offers, and information about appeals, followed by a summary of the situation at each school separately. I have previously looked several times at The Rochester Grammar School’s transformation from super-selective to a school giving local children priority, for which they received some £3 million of the government’s grammar school expansion fund in 2018. The most recent article is here.

You will find a parallel article on 2021 Medway here, along with preliminary information on the 2020 Medway allocations here, with outcomes of the 2020 grammar allocation process here.  You will find articles on 2021 allocations to Kent grammar schools and non-selective schools via the links.

There are once again four strongly negative features relating to grammar school allocations in Medway, each looked at in more detail below. Firstly is the significant bias towards girls as demonstrated by the success rate in the Medway Test. Secondly is the disparity in the number of places available, with three grammar schools for girls and two for boys. Thirdly is the Medway Review which is not fit for purpose, failing to identify 56 children who ought to have been found of grammar school ability, according to the Review target percentage of 2%.  These are then further penalised in the appeal process. Finally, in any normal year, it was not possible to be considered as a late application for a Medway grammar school via the Medway Test. However, I have unearthed an unorthodox process that Medway Council claims is a way to be considered. When the application is turned down, the child is eligible to go for appeal, but it is probably only a realistic route at Chatham Grammar.

Medway Grammar School Allocations 2021
First Prefs
Not Offered
Chatham  150 52 0 44 48
Fort Pitt 150 143 2 0 17
Holcombe 150 58 6 0 60
Rainham Mark 235 280 56 0 7
Rochester 205 204 23 0 60
The Math 203 299 108 0 18
Offers across the Medway Boundary
The decision by Rochester Grammar School (RGS) to give a priority to ‘Children who live closest to the school’ (by road, not by a straight line) from 2020 onwards gave a shift in the pattern of offers, explored in more detail below. Whilst it appears to have seen a decrease in the number of OOCs at the school this is purely because of the reduction in PAN, with more offers to girls in nearby Kent at the expense of London girls. I look more closely at the consequences of this for Chatham and Fort Pitt in the individual school section, below.  
OOC Allocations to Medway Grammars
  2021 2020
Chatham Girls 57 48
than 5
57 43 7
Fort Pitt 133 17 8 130 20 12
Holcombe 90 60 27 108  42 26
Rainham Mark 227 7 7 228  7 5
Rochester 145 60 52 152  83 65
The Math 185 18 18 192 11  11
TOTAL 834 210 115* 867 206 126

* Estimate

Medway Test Bias towards Girls
I have explored this many times before, including an analysis in the Information Pages, here. The English Test (one of three), in which analysis shows that girls tend to score more highly, contains a single piece of writing that carries two-fifths of the aggregate marks in the Test. As a result, a child can gain a pass on the strength of a single strong essay (frequently girls), or similarly lose a place because they have misunderstood the extended writing question (frequently boys).
Disparity in Places Offered
In total there are 505 places for girls but only 355 for boys available this year in the five single-sex schools, as well as 235 at Rainham Mark Grammar, which is co-educational. Whilst there are places for every local Medway grammar qualified pupil who applied to appropriate grammar schools there is considerable pressure on provision for boys with Holcombe having filled up with ooc boys. This leaves few places if any available on appeal for boys who have not previously been found selective. Whilst a Medway Council decision in 2019 to support a new grammar school is quite simply fantasy, the imbalance could be resolved without difficulty if Chatham Grammar went co-educational and accepted boys.
Just 12 Medway pupils (eight boys and four girls) had a Review upheld out of 139 who applied, and fewer than five from the 23 in Kent schools. As a result, a total of just 23.4% of Medway pupils were found selective against a target of 25%, depriving some 56 Medway children of grammar school places. 

The Medway secondary transfer procedure for grammar schools follows the School Admissions Code of Practice, stating that if a child is unsuccessful at Review an Appeal Panel cannot uphold an appeal unless the appellant can prove the process is unfair (in Kent, whilst there is a Headteacher Assessment process this is not classified as a Review). This is particularly unfair as Medway Council annually fails to ensure the proper success rate is maintained. However, this remains for an Appeal Panel to decide, as historically those for Chatham Grammar has done. The other five schools encourage their Appeal Panels to support the rule, but this can vary year on year. See Individual School Information

Quite simply, for boys who have not qualified by the Medway Test, chances at appeal were minimal in 2020, although it appears at least one boy was successful at Holcombe, the first for some years. Parents may wish to consider a later application and appeal to Borden in Sittingbourne, which still has plenty of places. For girls, it appears it was difficult not to succeed at Chatham Grammar, but very difficult at the other two schools, as it was at Rainham Mark. For further advice/information on Medway appeals go to here 
Medway Grammar School Appeals 2020
Chatham  63 59 All N/S
Fort Pitt 25 2 All N/S
Holcombe 47 9-12 8G upheld
Rainham Mark 49 8 8G upheld
Rochester 20 6 6G upheld
The Math 80 14 14G upheld
 Late Applications
For further information and advice, go to here.  However, the reality is that chances of success are minimal except at Chatham. 
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 Details of Individual Medway Grammar Schools on Next Page

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Last modified on Sunday, 06 June 2021 20:18

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