Supporting Families
  • banner12
  • banner13
  • banner6
  • banner7
  • banner10
  • banner4
  • banner2
  • banner8
  • banner3
  • banner11
Monday, 11 March 2013 00:00

Grammar & Non-selective oversubscription and vacancies in Kent & Medway secondary schools

Which Kent and Medway Schools are the most popular? Where are there grammar school vacancies? Where is the biggest hot-spot in Kent (not West Kent grammar schools for a change!)? Which five schools regularly top the non-selective popularity table? Answers below.      dgs               leigh                                              


Each year I carry out a survey of over-subscription and vacancies, together with a second feature on cross boundary transfers. For 2013 entry, the situation has changed dramatically, with an increase of 382 places, mainly in oversubscribed schools, some as part of a planned increase, others using new freedoms to expand places to meet demand when numbers of preferences are received by the schools. 113 of these new places are in West Kent grammar schools, described below, 86 in other grammar schools across Kent, 71 in West Kent non-selective schools, and 112 elsewhere. In addition, the three new secondary Free Schools will provide a further 270 school places which, if taken up, will attract children away from the schools listed below. Against this, one of the most undersubscribed schools in Kent has reduced its intake figure by a remarkable 85 children, but still features strongly amongst the group with most vacancies.

With an increase of over 3% in total provision, mainly in oversubscribed schools, it is unsurprising that the number of children without a school of their choice has fallen to 354, its lowest for many years, although as many as 20% of that total may come from one town!

It is also unsurprising that many schools popularity has changed from 2012, in the list below.

I have published several previous articles which you will find below, but this one covers vacancies and levels of oversubscription across Kent and Medway.  You will find last year’s figures here.


Oversubscribed Grammar Schools

The additional places pumped into the West Kent grammar schools, has seen the focus on places shift to Dartford, with South London children taking up 270 places in the four grammars, indicating the pressure now on the schools.

As a result Dartford Grammar is now the most oversubscribed grammar school in Kent turning away 136 grammar school qualified first choices, as well as being the school setting the highest cut off for out of area children with a minimum score of 418. This excludes Dartford Grammar School for Girls which gives priority to girls in a larger local area, and so offered places to only a small number of out of county girls who scored the maximum 423. Not surprisingly, Dartford Girls came second in the list, turning away 85 first choices. Next came Skinners School (72) and Tonbridge Grammar School (49). In fifth place surprisingly, comes Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar in Faversham (47) having shot up the lists from 19 last year. Judd School had just 39 first choices turned away, its apparent lack of popularity certainly being explained by boys self-selecting, only applying for places if they have the highest scores in the Kent Test.


Next in order come Simon Langton Grammar School for Boys, Dover Grammar School for Girls, Dane Court Grammar School, Barton Court Grammar School, Tunbridge Wells Girls' Grammar School, and Wilmington Grammar School for Boys. In Medway both The Rochester Grammar School and Sir Joseph Williamson's Mathematical School had a fall in popularity, although both remained oversubscribed. These are balanced by a marked increase in the popularity of Rainham Mark Grammar School, which put on an extra 30 places, and was still oversubscribed with first choices. 


Just 21 qualified children who applied for grammar school places were allocated to others, not of their choice, more than half coming from the Herne Bay/Whitstable area, probably no more than three from West Kent.


Grammar Schools with Vacancies

At the other end of the scale come 12 grammar schools which still have vacancies: Highworth Grammar School for Girls (increased its Planned Admission Number (PAN) by 4); Chatham House Grammar School (increased its PAN by 9); Oakwood Park Grammar School; Norton Knatchbull School (increased its PAN by 31); Borden Grammar School; Mayfield Grammar School for Girls; Invicta Grammar School; Maidstone Grammar School for Girls (biggest surprise, with 40 vacancies, also having increased its PAN by 4); Harvey Grammar School; Clarendon House Grammar School; and Folkestone School for Girls. Chatham Grammar Schools for Boys and Girls in Medway also have plenty of vacancies, whilst Fort Pitt Grammar has one.

Oversubscribed Non-selective Schools

The five most oversubscribed non-selective schools are the same as in 2012, headed again by Leigh Technology College, although its level of oversubscription has fallen by nearly a half, but still turning away an enormous 123 first choices. Valley Park is now in second place (96) in spite of having increased its PAN by 30 children. The next two places go to Fulston Manor (93) and Westlands (92), making Sittingbourne the hot spot of Kent as its third school, Sittingbourne Community College, was also oversubscribed (in all some 73 Swale children received none of their choices). In fifth place, down from second comes Longfield Academy, although this still has 73 disappointed first choices. Other popular Kent non selective schools disappointing more than 40 first choice applicants were: St George's CofE Foundation School in Broadstairs (new entry); Bennett Memorial Diocesan School, Tunbridge Wells; Hillview School for Girls, Tonbridge; Herne Bay High School (new entry); and Charles Dickens School in Broadstairs (also new entry). Cornwallis School, Maidstone has remarkably not only vanished form this list but now has vacancies. In Medway, Brompton Academy continues to be way out ahead with 84 rejections, followed at some distance by The Thomas Aveling School (43) and Strood Academy (37) which last year had empty spaces.


Non-selective schools with Vacancies

Last month I wrote an article which attracted enormous media attention, highlighting six Kent and one Medway schools which were over half empty in Year Seven. Six of the seven start the year in the same position, with waiting lists and appeals to other schools making their position even more precarious. The seventh, Chaucer Technology College, still has 46% vacancies, even after it has reduced its PAN by an astonishing 85 places, the only school to reduce numbers. The schools are, in order: Hextable School; Walmer Science College (closing); High Weald Academy, Cranbrook; Marlowe Academy, Ramsgate; Bishop of Rochester Academy, Chatham; Pent Valley Technology College, Folkestone.

Final Thought

However, these schools can look to examples of how to turn the figures round with good leadership. St George's CofE School, Gravesend failed its OFSTED in 2009, and admissions slumped. A new head was appointed and, with good leadership a vacancy rate of 32% in 2012 has turned into oversubscription for 2013. Similarly Swadelands School in Harrietsham failed OFSTED in 2008, and this being a community school, KCC determined to turn it round, and it also is oversubscribed for the first time this year. Strood Academy followed a different route, being the amalgamation in 2009 of two schools, one a disaster area. It instantly became unpopular, although with an experienced and able new Principal has slowly built up its reputation so that it is oversubscribed for the first time this year (33).

Last modified on Monday, 29 November 2021 19:55


  • Comment Link Saturday, 06 April 2013 08:39 posted by Russ

    I believe there are vacancies in Maidstone because the Tonbridge grammars took an extra 120 children this year. PETER: This is certainly a contributory factor, but just 25% of Maidstone district children passed the 11 plus this year, lower than the county average of 27%, and lower than for example Canterbury on 29%.

  • Comment Link Thursday, 28 March 2013 12:52 posted by Alison MacFarlane

    Hello Peter
    Intrigued by the grammar schools with vacancies especially for both the grammars for girls in Maidstone. How does that happen? Peter: So am I. I have not asked for all the relevant figures for previous years, so am unable to quantify, but 25% pass rate, below county average of 27% is surprising. Boys are also well down, MGS only turning away three first choices and vacancies at Oakwood. Maidstone could be seeing the West Kent effect which forces down pass rates elsewhere now affecting Maidstone

  • Comment Link Sunday, 17 March 2013 18:39 posted by Garrett O'Doherty

    I am confused as to why Pent Valley is not recruiting students as its GCSE results have improved year one year over the last three and they currently meet the floor target? It is a school I am familiar with and I was shocked to find it struggling to get Year 7 students. Have you any idea why this is so? Excellent website by the way! PETER: I am not an Inspector, I am reporting what is happening. It is parents who are voting with their feet, so it is parents you must ask.

Leave a comment

Make sure you enter the (*) required information where indicated.
Basic HTML code is allowed.