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Sunday, 11 June 2017 13:05

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

The proportion of children offered one of their choices in a Medway primary school has risen to 97.4%, the highest proportion for at least five years. This is a result of a reduction of 160 in the number of Medway school places taken up by children from the Authority and outside. As a result, there are 432 vacancies across the 67 schools, which is 12% of the total available, up from 7% in 2016.

Most difficult area as usual is Rainham, with just 8 vacancies in two of its schools, a total of 2%. of the total number of places.  At the other end is Rochester with 17% of all places left empty in five schools. Most popular school is Barnsole Primary which turned away 52 first choices, followed by Walderslade and Pilgrim primaries with 29 disappointed first choices for their 30 places. There are ten schools with more than first choices turned away, nine in Chatham and Gillingham, listed in the table below. 

Barnsole     Pilgrim 3    Walderslade Primary 2  

Eight schools have over a third of their places empty, up from five in 2016, but headed for the second year running by All Hallows Primary Academy, with 70% of its Reception places empty (up from 60% in 2016). Altogether 31 of the 67 primary schools have vacancies in their Reception classes. 85 Medway children  were offered none of their choices and have been allocated to other schools with vacancies by Medway Council, well over half in Chatham and Gillingham schools.  

look more closely at each Medway area below, together with the situation for Junior Schools…….

You will find the equivalent article and data for 2016 here; a preliminary article here; and the parallel Kent article here - which also records a fall in pupil numbers.

I would encourage parents to apply to go on the waiting list for any of their preferences that have not been offered, as there will be movement over the next four months. This is your best chance of getting a school of your choice, as chances at appeal are generally very low because of Infant Class Legislation. For 2016 entry, of 69 registered Primary appeals organised by Medway Council where Infant Class Legislation applied (the overwhelming majority), just one was upheld.

Note: the abbreviation LAAC refers to a child placed by Medway Council at a school they have not applied to, as all their own choices are full.

    Oversubscription in Medway Primary Schools 2017 
First Choices
Turned Away 
Barnsole (G) 90 52 58%
Pilgrim (R) 30 29 97%
Walderslade (C) 30  29  97%
 Brompton-Westbrook (G) 60  25 42%
 Horsted Infants (C) 60 25  42%
 All Saints CofE (C) 45  23  51% 
 Swingate  (C) 90   21 23% 
 St Thomas More Catholic (C) 60  17  28% 
 St Thomas of
Canterbury Catholic (G)
30  17  57% 
The Academy of
Woodlands (G)
90  16   18%

(C) -Chatham; (G) -Gillingham; (R) - Rochester

The number of oversubscribed schools has fallen to eight since 2016 when there were 12, although this includes half of the top ten in Medway: Walderslade, 29 first choices turned away; Horsted Infants 25; All Saints CofE 23; Swingate, 21; and St Thomas More Catholic (17). 29 families were offered no school of their choice and allocated to eight schools with vacancies.

Overall there are 9% empty places in Chatham primary schools (up from 7% in 2016): St John’s Infants, with 16 of its 30 places vacant (full last year); Lordswood; Luton Infants; Oaklands and St Michael’s RC (but see Comment and Note below), all having more than ten places vacant.

Barnsole is the most oversubscribed primary school in Medway turning away 58 first choices, followed by Brompton Westbrook, 25 (third most popular Medway school for the past three years); St Thomas of Canterbury Catholic, 17; and The Academy of Woodlands 16, together making up nearly half of Medway’s most oversubscribed schools.

As last year, there are seven schools with vacancies, although the proportion of empty places overall has trebled from 4% to 12% of the total available. Whilst Twydall Primary again has the most with 35 of its 90 places unfilled, two of the other schools with vacancies, Byron and Oasis Skinner Street both have 11 LAACs placed with them. Hempsted Infants which was heavily oversubscribed two years ago, now has 27 vacancies, probably still suffering from its link with Hempsted Juniors, which recently went through a difficult time (now resolved). The most recent OFSTED Report for both Byron and Twydall (now academies) placed them in Special Measures, and Featherby Infants probably suffer

Take out All Hallows and St James CofE Primary Academies, with 38 of the 42 Hoo vacancies between them and both over half empty, then supply and demand appear well matched. The most recent OFSTED Report on both schools classifies them as Good, up from Special Measures since academisation. The only school significantly oversubscribed is the junior section of Hundred of Hoo Academy, with 14 disappointed first choices, out of a total of 23 turned away across the area. This is an area where all schools are academies, many offering priority to secondary schools which sponsor them.
As usual, this is the Medway area with the fewest vacancies, just eight all at Deanwood and St Augustine of Canterbury, with 98% of places being taken up. Last year there were no vacancies in any school. However, there are just two schools significantly oversubscribed by first choices for 2017: Miers Court (15) and Riverside (14). There were just 5 LAACs.
30 new places have been created with Delce Academy, previously Delce Junior, deciding to set up an Infant section with an intake of 30, in direct competition with Delce Infant School.  As a result, the two schools have 38 vacancies between them, each school leaving empty 30% of the total places available. This may be fortunate in two year’s time when children currently attending Delce and St Peter’s Infant schools may have problems in their normal route of progression if there are insufficient places in the Academy due to its own Infant section intake.
For 2016 admission, places were very tight with just 3% free all at Warren Wood. This year the number of empty places has shot up to 68 which is 17% of the total, so there was clearly no need for the Delce Academy initiative. The number of applications to Warren Wood has increased against the trend, with all but one of the area’s 12 LAACs being sent to St Peter’s Infants.

Just three schools oversubscribed, two significantly. These were The Pilgrim School, 29 disappointed first choices, and second most oversubscribed school in Medway; and St Margaret’s at Troy Town CofE, last year’s most popular school, with 13.

Just three schools oversubscribed, Wainscott Primary being most popular, but still only turning away four pupils from a total of just seven disappointed first choices across the area. Most vacancies at three academies: Cedar Children’s (40); Gordon Children’s (29) and Elaine Primary (18). The three most popular schools in 2016 have all seen large falls this year: Bligh Infants down from 25 first choices turned away in 2016, to none in 2017 (but no vacancies); All Faith’s Children’s Academy – 23 to one; St Nicholas DofE from 11 to two.
Junior Schools
The large majority of the 981 children who applied, and the 980 offered places in Medway's ten Junior schools will have come from connected Infant schools, although there may be a few looking to transfer to or from all through primary schools. As such, there is a strong connect between the number of applicants and places available, with most families choosing the connected school and receiving priority for admission. There were five oversubscribed schools, most popular, St Margaret's Junior (five oversubscribed), and five with vacancies, two thirds of the 60 empty places being at: Luton, Gordon, and Delce.
Last modified on Wednesday, 19 July 2017 05:54


  • Comment Link Sunday, 23 July 2017 16:31 posted by Katharine Sexton

    Thank you sir. I was merely pointing out that on paper the school did appear to be under subscribed, in reality it wasn't. Sometimes it's beneficial to hear the story behind the data; I was only trying to clarify the situation on behalf of my school. It is a pity that in doing so I have been met with such a rude and pedantic reply. In hindsight I wish I hadn't commented now, I'm sure any other readers will take note! PETER, I am sorry, but the whole point is that the school WAS undersubscribed contrary to your claim, now repeated. I do not believe it is pedantic to explain to explain the correct facts and as far as I can see I was perfectly polite in doing so, not rude!. I am sorry I was unable to subscribe to your version of the truth. Yes, you probably should not have commented in this way. Other headteachers who wish to question my statements usually do so off-line. However, I have been constructive in putting in a note by the item, referring people to the comment and reply, so they can see why the undersubscription occurred. That is surely the key point. If you would like me to remove this whole comment I am of course happy to do so.

  • Comment Link Monday, 17 July 2017 15:23 posted by Katharine Sexton

    I would like to take this opportunity to clarify that St Michael's was never undersubscribed- we had places vacant on our first list due to parents of children in our nursery not realising that they had to re apply through the council for Reception and so had been deemed as "late applicants". Thank you for giving me the opportunity to clear this up. PETER: I am sorry but you appear not to understand the legal Admission process for your school. The nursery is a separate legal entity from the school, and there is no mechanism for 're-applying'. Any child can apply for admission to the school, membership of the nursery is irrelevant and their application is considered on the basis of the laid down admission criteria published on the school website (there is no apostrophe in 'Admissions'). Rightly, this gives no priority to and makes no mention of membership of the nursery. Therefore children attending the Nursery have to make application in exactly the same way as any other applicant. I would think if the school would like children from the Nursery to apply for places in Reception, it is your responsibility to explain the process to them, not leave them in ignorance. This is spelled out in the Nursery Admission document: 'Admission to the school FS1/Nursery class does not constitute admission to the primary
    school, nor does attendance at the FS1/Nursery class give priority to admission to the
    primary school' although to be honest, few will find it there. Because of what appears to be your failure to explain the procedure, the school WAS undersubscribed on 18th April as stated in my article, and hopefully those who had not applied were able to secure places by late application (actual, not 'deemed'). I hope that clarifies matters.

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