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Displaying items by tag: admissions - Kent Independent Education Advice
Tuesday, 05 October 2010 00:00

In Year Admissions

Last Updated April 2017

Note: Any expatriate families may find helpful an article I wrote for the British Council Families Association newsletter, Jan 2015: Finding a school on returning home.

 There are various reasons parents want their children to change schools outside the normal transfer frameworks, both in the primary and secondary school sectors. The enormous  scale of in year admissions can be seen from KCC figures for applications between 1st September 2012 - 11 June 2013,, when there were 9902 applications for primary aged children and 3020 for those of secondary age (these figures will not be available for subsequent years as schools are handling their own in year admissions - see below). . 

The most common is moving house: expatriates moving back from foreign countries; children of UK service personnel or crown servants returning home; those moving into Kent or Medway from another county, or those moving within the area.

There are also parents unhappy with their child’s current school or those seeking a grammar school place post the 11 plus or currently attending a non-selective school, or those simply looking for what they perceive as a ‘better’ school.

Some parents are unhappy with the primary or secondary school allocated during the normal school admissions process and wish to apply for fresh schools additional to those on their application form. 

Finally (I think) those whose children have been home-schooled or attending a private school and, for a variety of reasons wish them to take up a place in a state school.

Offering comprehensive advice on admissions or appeals in an article such as this is unmanageable, and this is one of my most busy Telephone Consultation areas. Please note, I only advise on state schools, not private ones. 

However, some pointers:

Moving House
·       Proof of residence is often the key sticking point for those moving house.
·       However, if the school of your choice has vacancies, then place of residence is immaterial provided it is in the United Kingdom  (but if the school is selective your child will still need to take and pass an admission tests first).
·       Otherwise, with few exceptions (some church schools & the super-selective grammar schools), you are unlikely to be seriously considered for a place at the school (at appeal, see below) until you have committed yourself to purchase (contract signed) or rented (often 12 month rental agreement) a property in the neighbourhood.  
·       Many parents want a school place before they move home. Apart from the exceptions above, you won’t get one unless there are vacancies, certainly not if you are moving from another country. However, there is nothing to stop you making enquiries of the school directly – each will have its own policy for dealing with such enquiries. These range from 'no assistance' (most common with heavily oversubscribed schools and some primary schools with limited facilities to deal with a large number of enquiries), through to those schools who will offer a visit to look round and a discussion. Do not assume that the latter are short of applicants. Some believe it is a common courtesy for potential parents.
·       Almost by definition, the most popular schools are oversubscribed (full), and so you will be looking at an application followed by an appeal that may of course not be successful. As a result, many children spend a period of time out of school, which can be as much as three months (even I have a grandchild who has recently spent this amount of time without a school!).     
·      There are special arrangements for children of UK service personnel or crown servants returning home (School Admissions Code, para 2.18). However, the application of these Codes does not provide much advantage in gaining  a place at a specific oversubscribed school,  for In Year applications. 
·      In any case, the Local Authority will offer your child in a school with vacancies, although there may be reasons for this. 
·      I regularly work with expatriates, who are relocating back to Kent to try and secure places for their children in Year 7 of new secondary schools each September. Their problems appear particularly acute as KCC is not allowed to begin the process until they are domiciled in the UK, and therefore it is wise to move before the admission process begins.
Grammar Schools
·     Almost without exception, entrance to grammar school is via an admission test, which will usually be set in-house for entry in Year 8 and above, and varies in content from school to school. Success in one school’s entrance test is rarely transferable to a second school. For entry during Year 7, children will take the appropriate Kent or Medway Test.
·      Most grammar schools  are full in each Year Group (but feel free to check) and so there can be several stages to securing a place. Where the school is full in the relevant Year Group,  they will determine after you apply, whether to test before making a decision. If the child is successful you will be offered an oversubscription appeal to try and win a place, or a place directly if there are vacancies. If unsuccessful in the test, you still have the right to appeal, whether or not the school is full, but will additionally have to show alternative evidence that your child is of grammar school ability. Sometimes the child will be turned down without testing on the grounds that the school is full. In this case if you go ahead with an appeal, the child will be tested before the hearing so that appropriate evidence is forthcoming.

        Chances of success if the school is full will vary enormously, depending on the pressure on places.

In Medway, the Council 

tries to operate a centralised system of assessment which all grammar schools appear to have chosen to comply with, although as academies they can determine their own procedure. The authority states: "If you have listed any selective schools in your preferences, then your child will need to be tested or have work reviewed and this will need to take place before any school place being sought. This will be organised by the  Student Services Admissions Team".  Parents find this very confusing and Medway Council staff have a habit of offering different advice to enquirers. 

Challenging Behaviour & Exclusion

  • Where the child has a history of challenging behaviour (who defines this?) or has been permanently excluded from at least two other schools special rules apply but only for In Year applications. (School Admissions Code Para 3.9) – However, the Local Authority still has to find a place locally for such a child.


·    In Kent, the procedure is very simple.  You simply need an In-Year Casual Application Form and send it to the schools you are interested in. There is no centralised process, so you can send as many applications in as you wish. If turned down, you have the right to appeal.

·    In Medway, life is more complicated, as some schools have adopted the above process, others remain with the previous arrangements. For most schools, you complete a Casual Admission Form, available on request from Medway Council, on which you can list up to four schools in order. The Council then manages the process and offers you your highest preference where there is a vacancy, or else allocates you to the nearest school with a vacancy. Medway Council still often follows its illegal practice of contacting the previous school to find details of academic progress for most schools. Medway may try and insist on your being locally resident but cannot deny your right to apply using your current address provided it is in this country.
·    For some Medway schools, you can apply directly to the school and don’t need to include them on the Medway In-Year Admission Form even if you use this for other schools. At the time of writing this paragraph (August 2013) these schools are: Chattenden Primary school; English Martyrs Catholic Primary school; The Phoenix Academy; St James CE Primary school; St Mary's Catholic Primary school; St Michael's RC Primary school; St Thomas More Primary school; & The Academy at Woodlands. Secondary schools operating their own procedure are: Chatham Grammar School for Boys; Rainham School for Girls; Strood Academy; & Rochester Grammar School.
·    There is still no formal reference in the Medway scheme to applicants who have already applied to schools through the normal process, but wish now to submit a late application after allocations have been made. Historically this was at the discretion of the Admissions Manager (rarely given) but is mainly allowable for some grammar schools and out of county applicants only. Enquire directly of the school.
  • You may find the parental comment here a salutary warning!
Good luck!


Tuesday, 05 October 2010 12:23

Primary School Admissions

 Last updated: December 2018 

Telephone Consultation Service
For most families, choice of primary schools, and completion of the Common Application form is straightforward. If, however, your circumstances are such that this is a difficult issue feel free to use my Telephone Consultation Service for impartial, knowledgeable and frank advice.  


There is more information, advice and comment on the School Admission Code page.

I am happy to provide advice through my telephone consultation service on primary admissions or appeals (but read Appeals for the difficulties with appeals). I have additional information on oversubscription levels and grammar school successes for individual schools across the county, that assist in informing my unique independent advice service on primary admissions.

For parents applying for any school in Kent outside the normal admission round, you should approach individual schools directly to apply, although you are of course to be encouraged to talk to them in advance of an application.  In Medway, you need to approach the Local Education Authority for an In Year Admission Form. You will find further details here.

News and Information Items relevant to Kent & Medway Primary School Admission for September 2018

Kent & Medway Primary School Performance: 2017 Key Stage 2 Results

Official Guide to Applying for a Primary School in Kent 2019

Medway Website: Applying for a Primary School in Medway 2019

Kent and Medway Primary Allocations 2018

Primary School OFSTED Outcomes in Kent and Medway for 2017-18

Kent Reception and Junior School Allocations 2017: Oversubscription and Vacancies

Medway: Oversubscription and vacancies for 2018

Kent and Medway School Appeal Outcomes 2018

The link between sibling numbers and 'catchment' distance in reception class admissions 2015


Information on Individual Schools is here.

  •  There are standard application forms known as the Reception Common Application Form (RCAF) and Junior Common Application Form (JCAF). Parents can also apply on-line here, and I recommend this process.
  •  Primary school admissions are straightforward for most parents, with similar rules for entry to most schools, except church voluntary aided schools.
  • MAKE SURE YOU HAVE APPLIED FOR THE CORRECT SCHOOL. EACH YEAR, I AM CONTACTED BY PARENTS WHO HAVE PUT DOWN THE WRONG SCHOOL BY MISTAKE, ALMOST ALWAYS TWO SCHOOLS WITH SIMILAR NAMES, OFTEN CHURCH SCHOOLS WITH THE SAME SAINT IN THE TITLE! YOU CANNOT CHANGE YOUR CHOICE, ONLY APPLY AGAIN LATE THROUGH THE  In Year Admission process. However, if the school is full, an appeal is unlikely to be successful because of Infant Class Legislation. The worst scenario I have come across in recent years was a Gravesend child being offered a school in Dover, because parents ticked the box for a school with a very similar name to the one they intended.
  • If applying for a Kent or Medway primary school place for September 2019 or January 2020  at the normal age of admission, you MUST complete an admission form by 15 January 2018, whether on-line or by paper application. This allows you to name three schools in order of preference if you live in Kent, six in Medway. If you don't have one, a Kent admission prospectus for your area can be downloaded at Primary, for Medway you need to use the website at Medway.
  • There is no need to put your local school down in first place; enter the one you most want your child to attend. You will not damage your chances at your local school by putting it in a lower order.
  • For all junior, infant and primary community and voluntary controlled schools, most primary academies, free and foundation schools and some voluntary aided schools, the rules for allocating places if the school is oversubscribed, are the same. First priority in Kent goes to 1) Looked After children; then in order 2) (relevant only to junior schools where there is a linked infant school) attendance at the relevant infant school; 3) sibling link; 4) health, social and special access reasons (health and special access to Halling Primary only in Medway); 5) nearness of children's home to school. Medway is the same, except that there is an additional priority after (3) given to children who complete the Supplementary Information Form (SIF) and qualify under the rules for church denominational voluntary controlled schools. In both Authorities if there is any doubt at all as to your eligibility under one of these categories, you MUST consult the relevant Kent (divided into Districts) or Medway prospectus to check details (I am unable to go into the fine detail here).  Most of such decisions rest on distance, which is "as the crow flies" in Kent, and "by the shortest safe walking route in Medway" two very different measures. Both authorities give the furthest distance out  that places were offered in 2018, which is a useful guide. However, it can change quite dramatically if there is a much higher or lower number of siblings who have priority, so it may be worthwhile contacting the school to see if they expect a significantly different number. However, the comment in the previous section still applies. 
  • If applying for a primary academy, free, foundation or voluntary aided school, make sure you understand the admission rules and have filled in the supplementary admission form, if one is required.  For church schools in this category, read the rules well in advance to see what you must do to qualify under the relevant category. For those reading this page outside the normal admission round, such rules should also be looked at well in advance, to see what conditions will apply for an application to stand a chance of success.
  • You will find primary school league tables for Kent here and Medway here. These need to be treated with extreme caution. They are heavily influenced by (1) the ability of pupils admitted to the school – see the most recent OFSTED Report for details of attainment for local schools on entry, on my Kent or Medway Primary School individual school information pages. or for a single school by direct link to OFSTED here. (2) the importance the school places on achieving high SATs results as distinct from educating the pupils.  I have posted details of Kent Primary School admission and appeal statistics for 2016 entry here.
  • If your child is at Infant School and you do not wish to transfer to a Linked Junior School, you can apply for other Junior Schools on the JCAF, or for any all through primary school school on an In Year Application Form, although chances that it will have vacancies are low, and you may have to try through the appeal process. Infant Class Legislation does not apply for such appeals. 
  • Key dates for Kent & Medway applications are  
Key Action
Key Dates in Scheme
Closing Date for RCAFs/JCAFs
Tuesday 15th January 2019 (Kent & Medway)
Offer day (posted or on line after 4 p.m.)
Tuesday 16th April 2019 (Kent & Medway)
Date by which places should be accepted or declined
Friday 10th May 2019 (Medway)
Monday 13th May 2019 (Kent) 
Councils re-allocate places that have become available
Wednesday 12th June 2019 (Kent)
Monday 20th May 2019 (Medway) 
Friday, 20 March 2009 15:37

School Places KOS March 2009

This Kent On Sunday article is based on information I obtained from Kent County Council. The data in it has also been used by Radio Kent and Meridan TV.

A response to comments from Medway Council appears below.

 Kent County Council data shows there is a total of just 131 vacancies in Kent’s 33 grammar schools, mainly in the east of the county.  268 out county children are taking up places in West and North West Kent grammar schools, displacing many children from these areas eastwards some to grammar schools they cannot reach daily. More than 40 West Kent boys have been   offered places in Folkestone or Sittingbourne.    


The biggest influx is into the four Dartford grammar schools, with 29 children coming from as far as Greenwich and another 15 from Lewisham. Bromley took up 59 Kent grammar school places, Bexley another 56 and East Sussex 50.  


Most oversubscribed grammar school was Tonbridge (101 turned away), edging out Judd from last year (95). These were followed in order by Skinners, Dartford, Weald of Kent, Tunbridge Wells Boys, Maidstone, and Tunbridge Wells Girls. This year’s problem is highlighted by these eight schools which all turned away more than 40 first choices who had passed the 11+. Last year there were just three, the same top schools as this year.  


However, for the second year running the most oversubscribed school in the county is the Leigh Academy in Dartford, rejecting 200 first choice applicants.  


One striking feature of non selective school placements is the wide fluctuation in popularity from year to year. The biggest controversy in the county surrounds Valley Park School in South Maidstone, whose popularity has soared this year, turning away 106 first choices, up from 16 in 2008.  There are 85 children in the adjacent areas who have been offered none of their four choices. Other non selective schools rejecting more than 60 first choices are: Folkestone Academy (newly rebuilt); Homewood (Tenterden); Bennett Memorial (Tunbridge Wells);  Westlands (Sittingbourne), Charles Dickens (Broadstairs), North School (Ashford), Archbishops’ (Canterbury); Aylesford (rebuilt under PFI and not even full last year); Mascalls (Paddock Wood) and Fulston Manor (Sittingbourne). Only half these schools were in the list last year showing how difficult it is to predict popularity.


At the other end of the scale, four schools were over half empty before children unsuccessful in any of their applications were allocated to them.


Kent’s Academies present a very mixed picture.  Cornwallis,  Folkestone and Leigh are all heavily oversubscribed. The other six, mainly with new buildings still to arrive, have a total of 328 vacancies between them before some pupils who had not applied to them, were allocated places by KCC . 


Following my campaign through the national media, Medway Council has changed its policy of not allowing late applicants for grammar schools entrance to apply for the 95 spaces in Chatham grammar schools.  Only two weeks ago Council officers were telling enquirers that there was no facility for late testing, but now the grammar schools have laid on additional open days and been overwhelmed by enquiries from Kent parents unable to get into oversubscribed Kent schools. 



 Following a comment by Medway Council on this article, I have written the following letter to KOS.

I was fascinated that Medway Council claimed in last week’s KOS that late testing for Medway grammar school places has been available for several years rather than introduced in the middle of this year’s admission process following media pressure, as I believe.

Perhaps the person who gave the statement did not know that Medway’s own prospectus states that late testing can only take place in exceptional circumstances; that it is not even mentioned in the legal document that sets out Medway’s admission procedure; that when the Council commented on the media debate I initiated they were solely concerned with defending the status quo and forgot to mention this central issue; that parents were consistently told last year there was no provision for late testing; that when I contacted grammar schools early in March they were not aware of the change in procedure; and that one of my clients living in Kent contacted the Council offices two weeks ago and was told that there was no such procedure.

However the good news is that the Council has indeed bowed to that pressure and some Kent children allocated to inaccessible grammar schools will now be able to take up the vacant spaces previously barred to them if they now take and pass the Medway selective tests. 

Published in Newspaper Articles

Last week, some 9,000 Kent children took the Kent eleven plus, results due on 18th October. Parents then have less than two weeks until 31 October (a week shorter than last year!) to list four secondary schools in preference order on the Secondary Common Application Form (SCAF), so early planning is important. Already some secondary schools have held Open Days, and parents should visit all possible schools and ask about the chances of a successful application.

It is impossible to give specific advice on choosing schools in a short article, as the situation varies enormously from town to town and often year by year. My website at provides more information and I plan to expand this shortly.

If your child passes the Kent test, you can name just grammar schools on your SCAF.  If you don’t qualify for any of these, you may be offered the nearest grammar school with a vacancy but last year some parents were offered non selective places as there were no other local grammar school places vacant. If your child has passed the eleven plus and you name grammar schools and a non selective school, for example a church comprehensive school, you will be offered the highest school on your list for which you are eligible, whether or not it is a grammar school. If your child has taken the eleven plus and not passed, you must include any grammar on the SCAF  you wish to appeal to, but I recommend you include at least one non-selective school. Appeals will not be heard until the summer of Year Six. If your child has not taken the eleven plus, you can only apply for non selective schools.  Some schools last year still claimed falsely that parents needed to put the school first on the SCAF to secure a place.

After closing date each school draws up a list of eligible applicants according to their oversubscription rules. They are not told where you listed them on the SCAF or which other schools you applied to, so list schools exactly as you prefer them - there is no way of improving your chances at a school by tactics of choice.  The only exception to this is, if  going to appeal, you will find the appeal panel is told and may be influenced by the school you have been allocated. There is no advantage in putting just one school on your list.


I strongly recommend you apply on-line so you reliably receive results the day before they are delivered by post. Last year over 79% of Kent parents went online.

On National Offer Day 1st March 2011, your child will be allocated the highest preference school for which they qualify.  So some children could get their fourth choice ahead of others who listed it first if their claim is stronger. If you don’t qualify for any school on your list, KCC offers a place at the nearest appropriate school with vacancies.


This is a time when rumours swirl about the playground gates, many of them old wives tales. If in doubt check it out and my best wishes to every family going through what is undoubtedly an extremely stressful process. Remember, over 80% of all families were offered their first choice school in March last year, a figure which will have been much higher after the appeals process was concluded.

Published in Newspaper Articles
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