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Monday, 15 May 2017 09:38

Oversubscription & Vacancies in Kent Primary schools: Allocation for September 2017


Great Chart Primary is the one Kent school that consistently turns away one of the highest number of first choices in the county, 41 for 2017, reflecting its Outstanding OFSTED and the large amount of new development in this part of Ashford – I remember when Great Chart was a small village! Typically for the primary school appeal success rate, none of the 13 appeals registered, two withdrawn, were upheld. Other popular schools are: Goat Lees; Kingsnorth; St Simon of England Catholic; Victoria Road; and Willesborough Infants, all with more than 10 first choices turned away.  Willesborough, having expanded temporarily to an intake of 150 in 2016 which would have accommodated all first choices, cut back to its previous 120 this year, probably because of shortage of classroom space. Downs View Infants in Kennington, OFSTED Outstanding, website featuring a complimentary letter from the Director of Education about its good KS1 results, has seen its popularity plummet this year, from being regularly oversubscribed to the only school with vacancies, 14 (apart from Repton Manor with just two).  This could be parents trying to avoid the feed in to Kennington Junior (my old primary school!). Overall, there were just 1% of vacancies in the urban area.
Note: see the comment at the foot of this article on pressure in South and South East Ashford. 

Away from the town, the only school seriously oversubscribed is as usual Challock Primary, rejecting 21 first choices. Brook with over half its 15 places empty probably simply suffers year on year because of a small catchment to draw on, although it also has a Good OFSTED in its favour. Another nine schools have over a quarter of their spaces unfilled.

As in previous years, the City’s schools polarise neatly with four oversubscribed led by St Peter’s Methodist disappointing 23 first choices, followed by St Thomas’ Catholic (17), Wincheap Foundation (8), and St Stephen’s Infant (2). The other five all have vacancies, two having at least half their places unfilled for three out of the past four years, both including 2017.  These are Parkside Community Primary – reflected in its recent OFSTED decline to Requires Improvement, one of only three Kent primaries to go into reverse this year, and the controversial St John’s CofE which upped its OFSTED to Requires Improvement last year. Canterbury Primary added 30 places, filling 25 of them. Overall, there were 17% of spaces empty in the city.

Most families have their first choice outside the city, except at Blean which had 18 first choices disappointed, Hampton 13, and Herne Infants Nine. There were five oversubscribed at both Chislet and Hoath. Wickhambreaux added 5 places seeing all its first choices admitted. However, whilst just four of the twelve rural schools have vacancies - Adisham; Chartham; Littlebourne and Petham – there are plenty along the coast.

Few problems here also, with just five of the 14 schools being full, most popular Sissinghurst turning away six first choices. Most vacancies at Cranbrook, 47% empty with a difficult past chronicled here but recent OFSTED takes it up to Good, and Sandhurst 40%, the second of the three Kent primaries to see a fall in OFSTED rating this year, to Requires Improvement. Overall 17% of places left empty.
The enormous pressures of 2016 have abated a little, five schools in the west of the District having vacancies, most at Joydens Wood Infants (20 out of 90) and Maypole, along with Dartford Primary Academy, Holy Trinity CofE and Temple Hill. 33 children out of 1003 were LAAC, placed at five different schools. Pressure on last year’s most oversubscribed Kent primary, Fleetdown has eased, although there was still an oversubscription of 29 first choices, as at West Hill. Dartford Bridge and Wentworth had 25, Our Lady’s Catholic 14, and Wilmington 13. An additional 30 places were created at The Brent, taking it to 90, all of which were filled. Overall there were 58 vacancies, 6% of the total.

In the eastern part of Dartford District, mainly out of town, just three schools out of 13 were oversubscribed, most at Bean, turning away 12 first choices. The others were Hartley and Sutton at Hone. Most vacancies were at Knockhall Academy with 28 spaces, still suffering after its disastrous ownership, including a failed OFSTED, by the now closed Lilac Skies Academy Trust (see comment below). The school is either very brave or very foolish to post comments from a parental survey on its website, which underline the concerns. Further change is unlikely as the Executive Head is one of Regional School Commissioner's advisers! The new Cherry Orchard Primary Academy in the Ebbsfleet Garden City development officially has 24 of its 30 places empty, but has been able to offer places outside the Kent admission scheme, so probably has more children coming. drawn from other schools. 

Last modified on Friday, 16 April 2021 06:28


  • Comment Link Thursday, 01 June 2017 08:31 posted by Ex Knockhall Parent

    I have moved my daughter from Knockhall, after she had a series of supply teachers who had no interest in teaching. The school showed no concern when I complained, saying that was all they had.

    Do they have to wait years for an OFSTED Inspection and children's education ruined before someone does something?

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 30 May 2017 05:42 posted by Alison

    Like many other local families, I have been allocated John Wallis Junior Academy - previously Linden Grove in Special Measures and in spite of new branding, little appears to have changed. We also have Beaver Green, also Special Measures but still turns away first choices, and two of the most popular schools in Kent, Great Chart and Kingsnorth. You describe every school in the area as being full, and still housebuilding is taking place, the new Finberry School also full to bursting. What hope is there for us and families next year? PETER: The comprehensive KCC Commissioning Plan (link above) page 82, shows the pressure in South and SE Ashford was forecast this year, with an overall shortage of places. . A new school at Chilmington Green, proposed opening 2019 will serve the new development in the area. The pressure will only get worse, and John Wallis will soak up the surplus I am afraid. Not much comfort, but the senior school is good and well-run, so there is the capacity to improve. Sorry.

  • Comment Link Saturday, 27 May 2017 21:41 posted by Maidstone HT (details supplied)

    Thanks for this, Peter. I am head of a school just outside the most popular ones, and was shocked to see my numbers fall. Having read this, I have checked with others in the same situation, and we are all suffering. Why has KCC not told us the truth about falling numbers instead of allowing us to think we are failing to attract. PETER: You are right. If the most popular schools stay popular, others will see numbers fall at twice the rate!

  • Comment Link Wednesday, 24 May 2017 04:55 posted by Karen

    Knockhall Primary, Dartford. You say that the school is recovering from its disastrous ownership under Lilac Sky. On the contrary. A lot of inexperienced (unqualified?) teachers are not coping, foul language is being used by some "professionals" in front of the children. We are told that teachers are very unhappy, certainly we as parents are. There is a growing deluge of parents moving their children from the school, including teaching assistants that work there! As you say elsewhere, children only get one chance of a decent education. Not if they come to Knockhall! PETER I have amended my reference to Knockhall above, to reflect this, as it is not the only concern I have received.

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