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Friday, 29 October 2021 12:03

School Appeals in Kent and Medway 2021


Updated 31st October

This article looks at Year Seven and primary school appeals in Kent and Medway for admission in September 2021. This has been the second year under the Covid pandemic, and once again no school appeals have been conducted with the previously normal face-to-face hearings.  I looked at this issue previously in the 2020 article with all appeals being conducted by video or telephone conferencing or else, as in the majority of cases, by panels considering the paper evidence submitted. The government has announced more flexibility of process for 2022 appeals, to allow them to take place  'in person, or by telephone, video conference or through a paper-based appeal where all parties can make representations in writing'.

The number of successes in Kent grammar school hearings is almost identical to 2020, with 443 grammar appeals upheld,  although the number of hearings fell sharply by 17% to 1628.  The number of successes in non-selective schools (N/S) is also very similar to 2020 at 145, although here the number of appeals rose by the same 17% to 853. N/S schools outcomes fluctuate considerably each year as not only do the schools often increase their intake to meet need, but they also lose variable numbers to grammar schools after their own appeals. Medway grammar school appeals repeat the regular and disgraceful discrimination against boys, seen also in the selection process. 

There were no successes at all for the 268 appeals to Kent and Medway primary schools conducted by KCC Panels where infant class legislation applies (see below for an explanation).

I look at the appeal outcomes of all individual secondary schools more closely below.

You will find the appeal record of every school over the past five years, via the various pages of the Individual Schools section via the link or the Information Articles links to the right-hand side of this page, along with the mode of conducting the hearing.

Introduction and Headlines
In my view, The most dramatic single change was at Sir Roger Manwood’s School, an East Kent grammar which was 34 first choices oversubscribed in 2020, but with 20 vacancies in 2021. The appeal success rate this year was an astonishing 93% of the  28 appeals upheld as the school attempted to fill its places. The most difficult area to win a grammar school appeal is once again in the Dartford area, with 10 out of 361 appeals upheld in the four grammar schools, all but one for children who had already been found selective, none at Dartford Girls’ Grammar for the third year out of five. The low Kent grammar school pass rate in the East of the county saw some schools encouraging high success rates at appeal to fill places. After Sir Roger Manwood’s came Chatham Grammar with 84% of appeals upheld and Folkestone School for Girls with 83% (even though it offered 87 places through its own Test which helped towards numbers). Dover Grammar Girls, together with Fort Pitt and Holcombe in Medway, also had no appeals upheld.

For N/S schools, success rates range from 0% at Fulston Manor, Hillview, Trinity, Wilmington Academy and Wye, through to 100% at Longfield and WhitstableMany appellants for non-selective schools are offered places before the appeal, usually as successes at grammar school appeals reduce numbers initially offered places. 

Kent & Medway School Appeals 2021
  Number of Schools Heard  Upheld 
Grammar  32 1628 444 27%
Non-Selective 38 853 145 17%
Infant/Primary Breach* 136 250  0 0% 
Infant/Primary (other)   13 18 11 43%
Junior  0 0 0
Junior 0 0 0 N/A

 * 48 other Kent Primary Appeals and five in Medway were withdrawn, several after places were awarded through the waiting list. 

You will find further details below, including primary appeals heard by Local Authority Panels. There is appeal panel data for 2021 and up to four previous years (along with other information) for each secondary school in Kent and Medway (articles currently being updated; please let me know if you need the information for a particular school).  The following links will take you to each area analysis including individual school outcomes this year (the unlinked headings are awaiting updating to the 2021 appeals, but you will find them below

     Grammar      Non-Selective
East Kent East Kent
Mid Kent Mid Kent
NW Kent NW Kent
West Kent West Kent
Medway Medway

 This is a lengthy and complex article, and so if you spot any errors or omissions, please let me know. I am aware from previous years, that this article is seen as of great value to many parents. However, please note that I am no longer able to offer individual advice on admissions or appeals. There is copious advice and information via the links in the Panels to the right.

 I am very grateful to all the 80 schools which held appeals, everyone, as usual providing me with the relevant information, along with KCC who provided me with the data for those schools whose appeals they managed.

Follow the links to find my general appeal information and advice for Kent Grammars, Medway Grammars, and oversubscription for grammars and non-selectives. Other recent articles include Medway Test and Kent Test outcomes for 2022. I am aware that most parent browsers will only be interested in specific areas, although this type of article is also widely read by professionals who are interested in a fuller look. To help the former, you may find the above links to more detailed sections helpful. Most Kent secondary schools are Academies, Foundation, or Voluntary Aided schools, with the right to choose their Appeal Panel provider. Both grammar and non-selective schools split roughly equally between Panels provided by KCC and those by other providers. It is my observation that the independence of Panels is declining in the sense that they are more closely following the wishes of schools in terms of numbers of appeals upheld, possibly to ensure retention of their contracts. 

There are four main groups of Appeal Panel providers: KCC Legal and Democratic Services Department (independent of the education department), which looks after 38 Kent and five Medway secondary schools, most Kent primary schools and a number of others in neighbouring authorities, using paper-based appeals; Educationappeals Dotcom Ltd, which operates out of Hertfordshire with seven Kent schools (video conferencing); Clerks Associates, nine Kent and Medway schools, mainly from the Leigh Academy Trust and  Swale Academies Trust (video conferencing); two other independent administrators, one organising eleven schools in the north of Kent, and Medway (paper-based), and another with three Medway schools (telephone conferencing).  There are also a number of Panels organised by individual schools. 

Given the positive way that paper-based appeals have been received, the removal of a tremendous amount of stress from parents, and the lack of complaints (see below), I can see some panel organisers being keen to continue with the practice. Certainly, many schools will have preferred it, in view of the simplification at this immensely pressured time, along with cost savings on hearing arrangements.

The parallel article on appeal outcomes in 2020 is here. I don't collect details of Reception appeals for the small number of individual primary schools that organise their own appeals, as success rates are likely to be equally low because of Infant Class Legislation.

Whilst many schools will tend to see similar patterns year on year, circumstances for individual schools can change sharply, as can be seen from the Individual Schools tables.

Complaints about Appeals
Back in 2016/17, There were 234 complaints nationally about appeals for admission to academies, with 6 upheld as having possible injustice. These would have led to a fresh appeal in most cases.  21 of the complaints were against Kent schools and four in Medway, although none were upheld.

For 2019-20, the number of complaints fell sharply to 104 nationally, although the number of academies had increased greatly, with 16 complaints in Kent and three in Medway. Of these, there was just one in Kent which may have caused possible injustice, with all being concluded by the end of July. I also looked at the single Ombudsman case concluded in 2020-21 relating to Kent schools under KCC control. It decided that KCC was not at fault in holding appeals based on written submissions and the appeal panel took account of the evidence provided, an important decision. This suggests there is a high degree of satisfaction from families about this year's enforced new procedures. 

Grammar School Appeals
Whilst there is a set academic standard for a pass in the Kent and Medway Tests, Independent Appeal Panels will set their own standard, which can vary according to pressure on places, space available and school expectations. Appeals are of three types. (1) straightforward appeals against a non-selective (N/S) decision, where there is still room in the school; (2) straightforward appeals for children who have already qualified for grammar school through the selection procedure (GQC), but lost out because the school is full and they are not far enough up the oversubscription criteria list; (3) a combination of (1) and where the school is also full, so there is a double hurdle to jump.  
For (2) and (3) the school will usually have a clear view on whether it can accommodate additional pupils, and express this to the Panel, who will usually take this into account. Such views tend to be clear from individual school outcomes in my Individual Schools Information sections. 
I recommend this section be read in conjunction with Oversubscription and Vacancies, Kent Grammar Schools, 2021,  where the story begins. 
Non-Selective School Appeals
The pattern of admissions and appeals for N/S schools is governed very much by local circumstances. Sometimes a high number of appeals simply measures the popularity of an individual school, in other places it may indicate a nearby school that parents wish to avoid at any cost. Some schools are happy to take in additional pupils who wish to join them, others are full to bursting point and desperate to avoid having to take in additional children who will require further teachers at the last moment, possibly temporary accommodation, or simply no way of providing either.  
Next Page: Appeals for East and Mid Kent Grammar Schools

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Last modified on Sunday, 31 October 2021 19:50


  • Comment Link Monday, 01 November 2021 16:25 posted by Daniel Field

    So, if you don't pass the Kent Test the first time round, and live in Dartford, you don't stand a chance of a grammar school place. And if you are a boy in Medway, the same applies. Dreadful! What can parents do about it all? PETER: For Dartford absolutely true. If your child entered had passed the Medway Test you could apply to and be awarded a place at Chatham Grammar (girls) or Holcombe (boys). For Medway if your child has entered or passed the Kent Test, you would qualify for Chatham or Holcombe, or apply for Borden or Highsted (Sittingbourne), likely, or Gravesend or Mayfield (Gravesend), less likely. I don't see any change in the system under present rules.

  • Comment Link Sunday, 31 October 2021 23:38 posted by Charles Filmer

    Another unique and comprehensive analysis about education matters in Kent. Congratulations Peter, but when is your contribution to education in the county to be recognised?

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