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Tuesday, 20 April 2021 18:28

Oversubscription & Vacancies in Medway Grammar Schools for September 2021


The links in each school name below will take you to the Individual School Profile in my Information section. 
The school is really struggling for numbers with just 57 places offered to Medway girls out of the 106 total, with a Published Admission Number of 150. Unlike the other Medway grammars, the 49 ooc places nearly all went to London girls unable to access RGS, so many of them probably will find preferred schools nearer their homes. The Sixth form is looking equally vulnerable, in spite of the £2.3 million new premises, with the current Year 12 at just 67 students and one of the lowest staying on rates across Kent and Medway. The 2018-19 Financial Accounts for the University of Kent Academies Trust records that: Chatham Grammar School for Girls transferred to the Trust with a substantial inherited deficit. A deficit reduction plan, approved by the ESFA, is in place but has been severely compromised by poor student recruitment at Chatham Grammar School for Girls. A marketing strategy has been implemented to address this issue. Negotiations are underway with the ESFA to reach a solution. Perhaps the marketing strategy is covered by my article Desperate Advertising. The annual accounts are traditionally produced at the end of December, but we are still waiting for the 2019-20 set.

The solution last year was to admit 59 additional girls through the 63 appeals heard, the Panel having decided that 94% of the 63 appellants were of grammar school ability, no doubt assisted by the Chatham Grammar representative. In the end, 147 girls took up their places in September, and there will almost certainly be a very high success rate at appeal again.

Traditionally has a high number of first preferences offered places, this year, 143 for the 150 places, just two losing out. Since the school expanded in 2019, it has started to take in more ooc girls, this year 17, as some are no longer looking at RGS. It is very difficult to win an appeal there although 2021, which saw two successes out of 25, is the first year for some time that girls, initially N/S have been successful.
This website is full of articles about Holcombe, and its managerial incompetence, although it does appear to have settled down under the latest headteacher. The school’s admission strategy appears to be to try and attract the highest performers, it currently being the lowest-performing grammar in Medway, and to ignore its previous role as the local boys' grammar in Chatham. This is illustrated through the appeal process, the 2018 hearings setting a low mark for competence across the county. The last three years have seen the success rate at appeal fall sharply, a major requirement being that the appellant is already grammar qualified and so from out of county, with no chance for local boys who may have narrowly missed the pass mark. With the shortage of grammar school places for boys in Medway, see above, this is grossly unfair discrimination, but no one seems to care. 
Situated at the eastern end of Medway, the school with its priority to local boys and girls, does not really compete with the other five grammars. It is always heavily oversubscribed, but it is difficult to win an appeal, with nearly all of the eight or so successes having already qualified through the Medway Test for quite a few years.
Regularly the most oversubscribed grammar school in Medway turning away 108 grammar qualified boys this year. Just 18 of its 203 places went to ooc boys, all living in Kent, nearest to the school. In recent years, nearly all of the successful appeals went to boys who were already grammar school qualified.
 The Rochester Grammar School
RGS, like Holcombe its fellow Trust grammar school, has taken up many column inches on this website, including its windfall £3 million grant for additional premises under the Grammar School Expansion Fund in 2018. My most recent article, What’s happening at The Rochester Grammar School, from last October, looked at the consequences of this for admissions to the school in September 2020, together with the ham-fisted decision to switch the sixth form to offer only theInternational Baccalaureate, removing A Levels from the curriculum. The table of initial allocations in my Individual Schools article shows the school’s manipulation of its PAN over the past three years, reducing its intake by 30 places in 2019, to 175 so that it could show an expansion of 60 places for 2020 admissions to justify the Expansion Fund grant. Now it has the money, and given its reduced popularity this year to the lowest in the past five years, it has cut the intake back to 205 as it was in 2017, so NO EXPANSION with the Expansion Fund money.

Now that the allocation of places at the school is primarily on distance, all grammar qualified Medway girls applying will have been offered a place, numbers being topped up by girls from outside Medway, 52 of the 60 from Kent, whereas in previous years many came from SE London Boroughs.  The 23 disappointed first choices will all be oocs (except possibly a few from the top end of the Hoo Peninsula), some of whom won't have realised the change of character of the school. I am waiting for the 2020 Pupil Premium data on actual admissions which needs to show an increased number to justify the Expansion Fund, but the unchanged ethos of the school may well put off these girls.


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Last modified on Sunday, 06 June 2021 20:18

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