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Saturday, 24 July 2021 07:29

Oversubscription and Vacancies Medway Primary Schools: 2021


Individual Areas - Chatham, Gillingham, Hoo Peninsula, Rainham

You will find the 2020 Admissions article for Chatham here.

I have separated the six Walderslade primary schools from the 12 Chatham primary schools this year, following the Medway Council area structure, see below. That left 12 schools with 19% vacancies between them, on allocation, the highest proportion of any area in Medway, and well up on the 12% of 2020 for the same schools. Just 32 of the 550 children offered places did not get their first choice; with six Medway children who had no school of their choice and were offered LAA places, spread across four schools.

St Thomas More

St Thomas More Catholic Primary School disappointed 14 first choices on allocation in April, a strong turn round from having 13 vacancies on allocation in 2020 (although this had shrunk to six in September when children arrived in the school). It had also been strongly oversubscribed before 2020, so this simply appears to have been a one-year blip. Other schools oversubscribed with first choices were: All Saints CofE (A, 8); Horsted Infants (5); New  Road (3); and  Greenvale Infants (2), all of whom regularly appear in the ‘oversubscribed’ lists.

The decision by Phoenix Academy to expand from being a Junior school linked to Greenvale Infants, instead becoming all through as explained in last year’s article, may have been unwise with the number of offers falling again to 23 for 45 places, including half of Chatham’s six LAAs. However, St John’s CofE VC Infants (A) is struggling even more, having offered just 13 places with a capacity of 30, or 57% vacancies. Many of its children will follow through to the popular Balfour Junior Academy, but there are local alternatives and it appears to be losing out. Other schools struggling to attract numbers include Luton Primary, which last year saw its numbers topped up by 13 children, probably by families arriving late in Medway. 

New Horizons Primary (A) was heavily oversubscribed two years ago, but has 14 vacancies on allocation this year, having seen a change of headteacher from Mrs Murphy to her husband, and a large turnover of teachers in recent years, suggesting unhappiness within the school (see also below). New Horizons' strong KS2 performance in previous years is very impressive. 

The other school that has lost considerable numbers for 2021 is Oaklands (A) with 17 vacancies out of 60 places available, which has recently academised under the Brompton-Westbrook Trust.

You will find the 2020 Admissions article for Gillingham here.

Just three of the 12 schools filled, all heavily oversubscribed, Barnsole (A) and Woodlands (A) disappointing 24 first choices each for their 90 places, with Brompton-Westbrook (A) turning down 21 for its 60 places. Last year a much larger figure of 123 families was turned down from their first choice across seven schools, whilst Barnsole subsequently opened an additional class of entry and admitted 102 pupils in total according to the October 2020 census (possibly admitting them on appeal). Altogether there are17% vacancies on allocation across the area compared with 10% last year. The biggest casualties are Napier Primary Academy and Oasis Academy Skinner Street, both with over half of their Reception places empty. Napier on 47 vacancies up from 24 in 2020, had reduced these by admitting an additional 14 late arrivals in Medway, according to the 2020 census. St Mary’s Island CofE (heavily oversubscribed just a few years ago, but which was allocated 11 additional children from late arrivals in Medway in 2020 to swell ints numbers), Saxon Way (A, one of the three local schools run by the appalling Griffin Trust) and St Mary’s Catholic primaries also have plenty of spaces.

Hoo Peninsula
cliffe woods
You will find the 2020 Admissions article for the Hoo Peninsula here.
Five of the nine schools are oversubscribed with first choices, most turned away at Cliffe Woods (A,19, with perhaps the recent governance scandal bringing this down from 50 in 2020), Hoo St Werburgh (A, 11) and the Hundred of Hoo all through academy (9).

This is the only area without a decline in the number of Reception aged children, reflecting the large housing developments going forward. However, there is a major problem towards the far end of the peninsula where two primary schools are struggling for numbers, explained in more detail here, with the Leigh Academies Trust trying to amalgamate them. However, parents are voting with their feet probably sensing the final outcome, and All Hallows (A) offered 24 places from its capacity of 30, whilst Stoke (A) made only nine offers for its 20 places. St James CofE Primary Academy at the tip of the Peninsula nearly filled again with 29 offers, after several years of struggling, possibly benefitting from the uncertainty further West.

You will find the 2020 Admissions article for Rainham here.
St Margarets Infant

Once again this area offered the most balanced intake with its 15% vacancy rate, and only 18 children out of 520 not being offered their first choice, all at three schools. Ten of these were turned down at St Margaret’s Infants (A). The other seven schools all had vacancies, most at Twydall (A) with 47% of its 75 places left empty. It is the only Medway school to have had a full Ofsted inspection this school year, being found Requires Improvement, which is at least an improvement on its previous Special Measures.

Rainham also contains the controversial Fairview Community Primary, with its rogue Governing Body. Parents have shown confidence in the school in spite of all the scandal, because of its acknowledged excellent leadership, provided by the Compass Partnership over the three years. The three leaders have all been removed over the summer following cancellation of the Compass contract, as explained in my articles, with numbers still strong for the 90 places. It remains to see what will happen next year. 

Next: Individual Areas: Rochester, Strood, Walderslade, together with Junior Schools

Last modified on Friday, 22 April 2022 22:14

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