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Monday, 24 May 2021 18:38

Oversubscription and Vacancies in Kent Primary Schools: 2021


For 2020 Allocations Article on the Areas in this section, go to here. 

By a remarkable coincidence, the number of children offered Reception places in town schools is, at 1033, the same number in both the last two years. The pressure in the Singleton area continues to be immense with Great Chart Primary, second most oversubscribed school in the county, turning away 65 first choices, a position it has held three times in the past five years. Nearby John Wesley CofE Methodist has had a surge in popularity disappointing 19 first choices, with Victoria Road in South Ashford, 26. 

At the other end of the scale, Furley Park (A) has been losing popularity each year since it last filled in 2017, and now has 38 vacancies, 42% of its capacity. It looks the sort of academy, in a small two school Trust (with Hamstreet Primary), which is causing the government to urge towards collecting in larger groupings.  Meanwhile, in Kennington, the village where I grew up and which is now a large suburb of Ashford separated from it by the M20,  surprisingly the total entry to the three schools has dropped by nearly a quarter, with all three full in 2020.

There appears plenty of capacity across the large village hinterland with Challock and Brabourne most oversubscribed each with seven first choices turned down.

Across the District, there were 33 Local Authority Allocations.

The number of children offered places in the 30 Canterbury primary schools for 2021 is very similar to last year, although with just 17 Local Authority Allocations well down on 2020.

As in previous years, the popularity of the nine city schools is heavily polarised, the three most oversubscribed schools in the District leading the way, St Thomas’ Catholic School with 20 first preferences not offered, followed by Wincheap Foundation with 11 and St Stephen’s Infants with eight.

The five schools with vacancies have 91 between them,  Parkside and Pilgrims Way (A) both over half empty, with the latter having expanded by 15 places for some reason.   

In the rural areas, choices continue to spread more equally amongst the 12 schools, with just 26 families not getting their first choice out of 398, most at Littlebourne CofE with 10. Even so, the proportion of vacancies was low at 7%, with most at Petham, 40%. The Village Academy which runs it, has also had difficulty attracting pupils to some of its other schools, described elsewhere in this article, including Selling and Lydd. 

There was a reduction of numbers along the coastal strip, with a reduction of 60 in the places available, as both Herne Bay Infants and Reculver CofE (A) cut back 30 places from the 2020 figures, reducing to their official PAN, so that both just filled this year. There were still just 20 children out of 597 who did not get their first choice school, most at Herne CofE Infants with eight.  A third of the 93 vacancies were at Briary

Cranbrook and Weald
This is technically part of Tunbridge Wells District, but the mainly rural locations of the twelve schools means it has a very different character from the urban area, with a high proportion of families clearly choosing their local school. As in previous years Goudhurst & Kilndown CofE is significantly oversubscribed as usual with its Outstanding Ofsted, turning away 15 first choices out of 28 disappointed across the 12 schools, followed by Sissinghurst VA CofE with eight. 17% of the areas 356 places were left unfilled.

According to the CPEPK, Dartford is the only one of Kent’s 12 Districts to show a shortage of primary places now and for the next few years, with just 28 vacancies out of 975 this year in Dartford Town, or 3%, the lowest figure across  Kent. It also features three of the most oversubscribed schools in Kent, with Brent (A) topping the list yet again, disappointing 76 families, in all coming first three times out of the last four years, and second in 2020. This continues a big turnaround from 2017, when it just filled. The other two are Gateway (A) with 42 first choices rejected and Our Lady’s Catholic with 41, with these last two having the highest proportion of first choices to capacity in the county. Five of the 15 schools had vacancies, with Temple Hill (A) receiving 25 LAAs, the highest figure in the county, Knockhall (A) 15, third-highest, and Dartford Primary Academy (A) 11, the fourth-highest in Kent. In total, 50 children were allocated to a school they did not choose, also the largest figure across Kent, leaving just 28 vacancies, although with inward migration and rising rolls in the District many of these will have vanished by September.

Wentworth (A), on the west of the town and just inside the border with Bexley, draws 38 of its 90 children from across the county line, all presumably qualifying because they live closer than Dartford children. Maypole (12) and Joydens Wood Infants (A) (9) are also very close to the boundary, but just outside the town.

The three new Ebbsfleet schools were all oversubscribed, Cherry Orchard(F) disappointing 23 first choices and Ebbsfleet Green (F) with six, after its very difficult start last year, along with Springhead Park (F), technically in Gravesham. The established Craylands in Swanscombe on the edge of the development also continues to be popular with 12 first choices rejected. A fourth school, Alkerden part of an all-through school, opens in 2022. Most vacancies come at Knockhall (A) which has been a troubled school for some years and is also on the edge of Ebbsfleet, with 38 vacancies even after 15 LAAs have been added in.

Next: Dover, Deal & Sandwich; Faversham; Folkestone & Hythe; Gravesham; Maidstone 

Last modified on Wednesday, 26 May 2021 20:41


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