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Thursday, 22 April 2021 10:34

Oversubscription and Vacancies Medway Non-Selective Schools September 2021

Individual Schools

The link via each school name will take you to its individual profile on this website. This contains a variety of data, including admissions, appeals, performance and Ofsted record. All data is up to date at March 2021, although several pages need updating, now in progress.

New Schools (Boxes)
Leigh Academy Rainham 
 This new school is due to open in September 2021, with construction well advanced at the time of writing (April 2021), as shown in the photograph below. As its name suggests, it is situated in Rainham at the eastern end of Medway. For reasons best known to itself, the Trust decided to admit Year Seven 240 pupils this year, 60 more than its PAN of 180, knowing that it now will leave up to 300 empty spaces across the other 11 schools, as reported in the introduction above.

The Trust may have been persuaded to increase its intake knowing there were 274 applicants not awarded places who lost out on distance grounds, many of whom will happily take up any spaces that become vacant. The 240 successful applicants may initially be drawn from the nearby Howard and Rainham Girls schools, then in terms of distance Brompton Academy,  with Robert Napier and St John Fisher (62 LAAs) also looking vulnerable. This will set up a wave of unpredictable changes that will work across Medway, all the way to Hundred of Hoo Academy, as the more popular schools fill up places from those further down the line. Strood Academy in the West of the Authority is also run by Leigh, and as the third most popular N/S school in Medway, is unlikely to be greatly affected, apart from seeing a turnover in the children offered places. 

Maritime Academy
The new Academy is to be run by The Thinking Schools Academy Trust. You will find a flavour of the Trust’s controversial management style here. I first wrote about this proposal four years ago, when the new school was scheduled to open in 2019, as an all-through school. The primary section has now been discarded, possibly because of the surplus in places in Strood, 101 infant Reception places being vacant this year, as well as there already being three TSAT primary schools which would dampen demand at all four. The new school, to the north of Strood on the road out to the Hoo Peninsula, is now scheduled to open in 2022 although the scarcity of information suggests there may be further delays.

Maritime Academy

In 2019, A Medway Council Cabinet Meeting considered problems with the purchase of the land, and it was only on 24th February 2021 that Planning Permission was applied for. This has raised considerable controversy over huge traffic issues such as those raised by Kelly Tolhurst, MP for the area, together with many other objections to the proposal. TSAT must be worried about permission as it is encouraging prospective parents through the promotional webpage to go to the Medway Planning Department website to express their support for the scheme (twice on the page!), although I suspect these will have little influence on what is a technical process. If you follow the link you will find full details of the proposal, together with comments, many from statutory organisations. 

At present, there are already two N/S schools in Strood, both run by the Leigh Academies Trust, Strood Academy and The Hundred of Hoo Academy, both full on allocation in March, Hoo with 11 LAAs, but these may catch the tail end of the LAR opening this September 1, so no current pressure on places in the district

The numbers to fill all three schools would therefore need to come from new housing developments scheduled in the district as there is currently no sign of increased numbers coming through the Strood Primary schools. Currently, there are 594 pupils in Year Six in Strood primary schools, rising to a maximum of 616 in Year Four, before falling back again. Strood Academy is oversubscribed annually, and Hundred of Hoo just fills. However, the position of the proposed new school now makes it ideal to recruit from the Hoo Peninsula and may make it very attractive to these pupils, undermining Hundred of Hoo. Alternatively, if the Maritime Academy or an alternative does not arrive for some years, it should not create a problem of provision.

The link via each school name will take you to its individual profile on this website. This contains a variety of data, including admissions, appeals, performance and Ofsted record. All data is up to date at March 2021, although several pages need updating, in progress.

Current Schools
 Brompton Academy
Consistently Kent and Medway’s most popular school, turning away 239 first preferences, close to last year’s record. Even if the LAR takes a chunk of these, it will fill up again with happy pupils from the waiting list. Chances at appeal are low, as can be seen from the record over the past six years via the headline link. You will need an exceptional case to stand a chance of success.
 Greenacre Academy
Lead school in the Skills for Life Academy Trust, with Walderslade Girls. These two schools are the furthest south in Medway, without the building development taking place across the rest of the Authority which is producing pressure on places elsewhere. It is also unlikely to be seriously troubled by the LAR wave. The number of first choices has risen to 185, its highest for some years. Further, the school is able to hold its pupil numbers, being full in Year Seven at last October’s schools’ census.  The two Walderslade schools appear to take part in an interchange of children up and down Bluebell Hill with Aylesford and Holmesdale schools.
 The Howard School
Has increased its Admission Number to 302, way ahead of its PAN of 270, presumably to try and retain as many pupils as possible with LAR less than two miles away.  Even so, its number of first choices has dipped to 122. The school must be very concerned about the effects of LAR and its new premises, with Howard’s starting to look dated. The Howard Trust also runs the previously failed Waterfront (Previously Medway) UTC, see below
 Hundred of Hoo Academy
A record number of first preferences this year at 239 showing it has thrown off a difficult history although there were still 11 LAAs, perhaps children who failed to gain places at Strood. Last year it retained its pupil numbers after 296 were offered places on allocation, according to the October 2020 census which records 300 pupils in Year Seven.  
 Rainham School for Girls
Along with Thomas Aveling regularly one of the two highest-performing non-selective schools each year at GCSE. For the first time in five years, all first preferences were accommodated as the number of these fell by 60 to 236 out of the 300 places offered
 Robert Napier School
The school’s popularity continues to build slowly, with 122 first preferences, its highest figure for many years. Sadly, the LAR is likely to draw some pupils away, undermining its progress.  
 St John Fisher Catholic School
The school has filled again, but only by virtue of its 62 LAAs. I looked more extensively at some of the issues at the school in last year’s equivalent article. With just 63 first choices, by far the lowest in Medway and just 35% of the intake, it will be extremely vulnerable to LAR.
 Strood Academy
A popular school, run by the Leigh Academy Trust, historically attracting some pupils from the Hoo Peninsula and its Leigh partner school, Hundred of Hoo. As usual, it is the third most oversubscribed N/S school in Medway turning away 33 first choices. The success rate at appeal is traditionally very low, just one appeal out of 23 upheld last year.
 Thomas Aveling School
Along with Rainham Girls, regularly one of the two highest-performing non-selective schools each year at GCSE. As usual, second-most oversubscribed school in Medway, attracting applicants from the neighbourhoods of less popular schools nearby. It turned away 70 first choices this year. Fewer than ten appeals have been successful in any recent year. For 2020 there were just 17 appeals, the lowest figure for some years, with five successful.
 Victory Academy
Victory has established itself recently, aided by a strong 'Good' Ofsted Report in 2017 after many years of struggle to suceed, but has dipped in popularity this year with 147 first preferences, the lowest for four years. However, it has filled with children who chose it as one of their preferences, avoiding the need for LAAs for the first time in many years. 
Walderslade Girls School.
The school continues to struggle to attract pupils after several difficult years, and has now been taken over by the Skills for Life Academy Trust, based on neighbouring Greenacre School (see Greenacre entry above) with the first green shoot, a Good Ofsted in December 2019. This praises the changes made. The number of first choices has also risen, up to 101. Is the only Medway school with vacancies on allocation, five, but has nearly filled through offering places to 39 LAAs.  
Waterfront UTC
This car crash of a school, which has to persuade pupils from elsewhere to join it in Year Nine, picked up just 56 pupils for 2021 for its 150  places according to the October census. The school was initially run primarily by a group of business people (one hopes their business skills were better) and rightly was placed in Special Measures in October 2018.  Shortly afterwards it was taken over by The Howard  Academy Trust where it ought to do better in future but still not very successfully in terms of reputation so far picking up just 56 pupils last September (54 the previous year) for its 150 places.  This could have set up a conflict of interest with HowardHowever, according to census data, Howard retained its numbers, the main loss appearing to come from nearby Brompton which lost 15 pupils from Year Nine according to the October 2020 census. 

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Last modified on Tuesday, 15 June 2021 05:59

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