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Displaying items by tag: medway - Kent Independent Education Advice
Monday, 04 October 2010 00:00

Secondary School Appeals

Last updated: March 2019

You will find further information, comment and advice in the page relating to specific types of appeal: Kent grammar schools; Medway grammar school review and appeal; oversubscription appeals; and primary school appeals. A look at key points of the School Admissions Appeals Code also contains further advice and information.  

You will find data for 2018 Appeals in Kent and Medway entry here and more information about individual Kent schools here

I have retired from my full appeals advice service but  My Telephone Consultation Service is available through the year, for both admissions and appeals.  I also support a range of In Year Appeals, often from expatriate families. I am afraid I only support families living in the Kent and Medway Local Authority areas for schools in these two authorities. See Can I help You for details. Up until summer 2016 I had supported around a thousand successful appeals to all types of schools in Kent and Medway providing me with a wealth of local experience.

All school appeals are required to follow the mandatory School Admissions Appeals Code.

Parents have the right to appeal against any decision not to offer a school place, and that decision must be in writing and contain information on how to appeal.  Whilst there is no time limit on when an appeal can be lodged,  it is normally best to meet the official closing dates, otherwise parents may find the schools their appeal is heard late and the school has filled at the time of the main appeals.

I regularly receive a number of enquiries about oversubscription appeals at the beginning of March when decisions arrive. These arise where the school (it may be non-selective or grammar) is full after the main allocation of places. 

In all cases, it is important that you notify the Admission Authority (which is the Local Authority in the case of Community and Voluntary Controlled Schools, otherwise it is the school or academy) that you are appealing, so that you are in the lists before the closing date for appeals. I advise many parents to put in a holding appeal (simply writing "I am appealing for a place for my child (name) at (name) school. A more detailed letter will follow" on the form you are sent with your decision letter, which means you do not need to submit full details by deadline day). You can then leave submitting a detailed letter until you have a clearer picture of the situation and you can also find out by how much you missed out on a place (for example distance) from the school. 

For non-selective schools, or oversubscribed grammar schools where your child passed the Kent or Medway Test, you should also apply to go on the waiting list. Arrangements for both processes are sent with your allocation letter on National Allocation Day.

In any case, DO NOT PANIC. Do not send off something immediately. It may damage your case when the appeal is finally heard and, however angry you are with the allocation, you won't gain any advantage or have your case heard early.  It is best to wait until you are ready with all your supporting evidence and then send it in together. It is good practice to get all material there at least ten days before the appeals start for your school, to ensure that papers can be distributed to the panellists. Few appeals are heard before May but Admission Authorities must publish their appeal timetable on their website. No Appeal Panel will discriminate against you if you deliver supplementary material after the official closing date for appeals, although administrators often find it convenient and may hassle you. If you don’t register your appeal until after this date you may find your appeal is heard after the main batch, when it may be more difficult to win an appeal if there is no room.

This right includes appeals against a decision not to be offered a place at sixth form, although the student themselves can also appeal in such cases.

In Kent and Medway, appeals are heard before an Independent Appeal Panel comprising three panellists (except at Simon Langton Boys Grammar that normally uses five panellists). These are independent of the school and the Local Authority, but are appointed by the Admisison Authority. All panellists are required to have been trained. An Appeal Panel has to have at least one Advisory Member and one Lay Member. An Advisory Member has experience in education, or is acquainted with educational conditions in the area, or is the parent of a registered child at a school. A Lay Member does not have personal experience in the management or provision of education in any school, but may be a school governor or have other voluntary experience. As you can see, appeal panellists do not initially have to have great knowledge of the education system, but soon acquire expertise in the role and in the different situations they may be faced with. All are volunteers and in my experience the great majority carry out an effective job. 

Chances of success at appeal vary widely; last year the number of successful appeals at individual Kent grammar schools varied from 0 to 73, and for non selective schools from 0 to 25. You will find some more detail about appeal outcomes for 2018 here.  These figures confirm that whilst Panels are trained to follow the mandatory Code of Practice, they may adapt their decision to local circumstances, such as the pressure on places. 

For non selective and primary schools, appeals are against a decision not to admit the child because the school is full. 

For grammar schools, there are three types of appeal:
1) Against a decision that the child has been found non selective, although there are still places in the school;
2) Against a decision that the child has been found non-selective and the school is full;
3) Against a decision that the child has been found selective but the school is full. 

Appeal Panels can be organised in a variety of ways. All community  and voluntary controlled schools in Kent and Medway will use Panels selected and trained by the Local Authority, but independent of the Education Department. The LA also provides clerks to administer the process and will manage all paperwork. 

Academies, Foundation and Voluntary Aided Schools in Kent may also use the services of Local Authority Panels, but those in Kent or Medway have three alternative choices:

  1. There are several Independent Appeal Panel Administrators operating in the area who offer services to a number of schools. These will recruit their own appeal Panel members and provide Independent Clerks. 
  2. A few schools use their own independent clerk to organise appeals and may recruit their own Independent panellists.
  3. There are now a couple of organisations offering to run appeals for schools, in one case even offering to provide the school representative at the appeal! Statistics for these panels suggest a much lower rate of success. 


In my experience, Panels organised by the Local Authorities or Independent Panel Administrators managing appeals at a group of schools are generally most independent.

Each Panel administrator should provide comprehensive documentation in advance setting out the appeal process, so that parents know what procedure is to be followed.

An increasing number of schools that are oversubscribed in both Kent and Medway operate a group appeal. At a group appeal, all appealing parents are invited to hear the Admission Authority case for not admitting additional pupils in the presence of the Independent Appeal Panel, and to ask questions. The Appeal Panel can then make a decision on how many additional children should be admitted (if any), so that individual appeals can focus on the parental case, without the issues of fullness being considered further at every appeal. No individual case or circumstances are considered at the group stage. 

I believe this is an effective way of managing oversubscription appeals, but can produce fireworks or a difficult meeting that requires good chairmanship. Where a group appeal is not used, each individual hearing considers evidence on both the fullness of the school and the case for the individual child.

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Last Revised November 2019

Review

You will find data for 2019 Appeals in Kent and Medway entryhere and more information including oversubscription and appeal statistics for individual Medway schools here

If your child is unsuccessful in the Medway tests you are entitled to apply for a Review of the decision, designed to select another 2% of children. However, for 2020 admission it once again was well below this level for Medway children, at 0.43% (4 out of 69 boys and 11 out of 78 girls successful) underlining both the failure of the process and the bias towards girls (detailed data to be published shortly).  For 2019 admission it reached another  new low at 0.12% of the cohort (2 out of 78 Medway boys who went to Review and 2 out of 81 girls, no private school or out of Medway children out of 26), details here. For 2017 it was 0.37%, (4 out of 74 boys and 8 out of 87 girls). You will find overall figures for 2017 here ), bringing the total up to a pass rate of 22.8% against a target of 25%. For 2018 entry, this process identified just a further 12 successful Medway children (only 0.37%) out of a total of 161 applicants  for Review, and for 2017 it was 24 out of 148.  

Current legislation is in a mess, and if you apply for a Review and are unsuccessful, the rules say you can only have your case considered (even though you have a right to be heard!) by an Independent Appeal Panel if you can show the Review process was not fair, objective or consistent. You will find the legal background at Code of Practice for School Appeals, paras 3.12 and 3.13. I do not know how parents can weigh up which option to choose on this reading!  However, I attempt to summarise the situation below that may be helpful.

The Review procedure for 2020 entry was as follows. Review Panels, each comprising two teachers from different schools, looked at three pieces of work from each of English, mathematics and science submitted by the primary schools (usually but not always within books), together with standardised test results (including Key Stage 1) taken in the schools and a grammar/non selective recommendation from the primary school (there is no indication on the Panel decision sheet of how this information was used). The Panel were not given any other information although parents are asked to complete a form (which panellists were instructed to ignore) giving their reasons for asking for a Review.  Each Panel then made a decision based on the work of the children they were reviewing and the total of successful reviews for Medway state school children turned out to be 0.43 % well below the planned 2% which has not been reached for many years. There were three successes for Kent children and none for private or other out of Medway school children.

The problems are compounded by the Review application Form R1 that invites parents to give their reasons for requesting a Review. It is also made clear that  parents should not send in information or documentation additional to their written statement (this cuts out medical evidence or other special reasons for underperformance, including prolonged absence from school which would have an effect on quality of work submitted).  However, the form also states that decisions will be based on the evidence supplied by the school, implying (confirming) that these parental reasons will be ignored. Further the primary school headteacher is forbidden to write letters of support or to provide information, other than KS1 results, Year 5  levels and a high/grammar recommendation. In 2008, following a complaint by me, the ombudsman criticised this process as the combination of the two procedures denies parents any opportunity to put forward their case, which flies in the face of natural justice. However, in a 2010 complaint the Ombudsman found this contradiction was reasonable!

I have received many enquiries on the value of the words on the R1 Review Request form. All I can get from Medway Council is that:

Those carrying out the Review process should see the parental statement (and no more), just to place the academic evidence in context. The review panel will (then) make their decision based on a consideration of the academic evidence provided by the school. 

 This moves us no further forward as if parents have reasons for underperformance, no Review Panel should/could accept these without evidence that would be supplied by additional materials. In any case, the Panel decision is based (solely?) on academic evidence supplied by the school. I am very disappointed that Medway Council is unable to give proper guidance to parents on the value of their statement on Form R1, preferring to leave them in confusion. My own view is that although Panels are not be able to take the statements into consideration, parents should put reasons for underperformance down as it is often relevant for appeals (see below). Do not mention specific schools. 

 

 Consideration of the Review Process at Appeal
 In all cases, if the child has been unsuccessful at Review, the school presents the Review results sheet (R2B) to the Independent Appeal Panel. It also provides the R1 Form, when an unhelpful comment by parents, written in good faith, can damage your appeal case. There is also an R2(A) which is presented, containing the information (above) submitted by the headteacher.

 At an Appeal, parents have the right to present whatever additional information they wish, to try and persuade the Panel that their child is of a grammar school standard. This is likely to include reasons why the child underperformed and alternative evidence of his or her grammar school ability. However, the statutory Code of Practice states that where a Review has taken place, the only grounds for appeal are that the Review was not fair, objective or consistent. In other words, according to the rules, panels cannot consider alternative evidence that the child is of a grammar school standard, or that there were reasons for underperformance on the day, unless they are satisfied that the Review process was unfair (but see below) 

 The real problem about Review often comes at appeal, as Appeal Panels for the different schools adopt different interpretations of the Code, sometimes adopting different views in different years.

 At Holcombe, the 2018 process was a shambles as explained first here, and finally here. There was just one success in 2019 

Historically, clients of mine  persuaded the Panels at Sir Joseph Williamson's over the years that the Medway Reviews were unfair – I believe my arguments had been decisive in some years, and so parents did have their academic cases considered. However, in 2018 no appeals for boys were upheld for boys who had not been found successful in Test or Review, and in 2019 just three, so I suspect it was unlikely that any of those going to Review saw appeals upheld. Details here

The number of children, initially non selective, who were offered places at Rochester Grammar or Rainham Mark is negligible (for 2018 and 2019 entry it was none), the fairness of the Review process providing an initial filter.

Panels at Fort Pitt  for 2016 to 2020 entry the school was heavily over subscribed so it was no surprise it was considered fair. 

Summary of Issues and Strategies for Review Process

  • If you go for Review and are unsuccessful, an assessment of your child’s work is sent to the appeal panel. I believe that because markers want to create clear water between those who are found selective and those who are not, Review reports are often unduly harsh and have a negative effect on Panels.
  • The Admissions brochure, like the parental advice, is ambiguous on the issue of whether parental reasons are taken into account, in spite of being criticised by the Ombudsman who considers parents should have the right to have their reasons presented to the Review Panel Review. The reality is, they are not, but can surface at appeal and count against you. 
  • The above analysis by school  suggests you should go for Review if you are considering a place at Chatham Girls. For Rainham Mark and Rochester,  chances of a successful appeal if your child is initially unsuccessful are usually slim (practically nil), and so I am unable to advise you which decision to take. For Holcombe I have no idea what is to come. 
  • For Fort Pitt and the Maths School, it may be dependent  on the level of oversubscription - Fort Pitt has found it fair in the past few years ;  the Math unfair for some even though oversubscribed but none in 2018 and unlikely in 2019.  
  • If you go for Review and are unsuccessful, an assessment of your child’s work is sent to the appeal panel. I believe that because markers want to create clear water between those who are found selective and those who are not, Review reports are often unduly harsh and have a negative effect on Panels.
  •  I believe that the process is inherently flawed and should be able to be successfully challenged - but it is increasingly difficult! The reality is that if an Appeal Panel is determined to find the process fair, it is very difficult to budge it.  
 

Warning on Medway School Admissions

Schools are not allowed to know the position you have placed them on the Application Form when drawing up rankings of children to determine who is awarded a place. However, for 2014 entry the whole application form,including reasons for applying for a school was sent to Admission Authorities to be provided as evidence for appeal panels when considering appeals. This practice has continued for 2015 admission and subsequently, although I regard it as a seriously retrograde step placing parents in an invidious position regarding their choice of schools. It is certainly wrong according to the spirit, if not the letter, of the mandatory School Admissions Code,that does not allow schools to know in which order the parents have placed them on the form for admission purposes.  However, I am told it is legal and other Authorities (not Kent) also use it when parents appeal for a school place in March, It is possible that some schools which are their own admission authorities (including academies) may choose not to present the information to Independent Appeal Panels, but for 2016 appeals nearly all did. If you are likely to have to appeal, you therefore now have to consider order of preference on the Common Application Form much  more carefully than in previous years, as the school and appeal panel will now see all your preferences and be entitled to ask the reason for them.

Further, there is a section for you to provide the reason for applying to each school separately on the Form.  This used to be confidential to the school applied for and continues to be so, unless you appeal, when as it is on the common application form it is shared with all schools you are appealing to. Obviously if you put down strong reasons for applying to one school it may reflect badly on you if appealing for another! My advice is therefore clear. Do not put any entry in this section, unless you are applying on health grounds (or similar) on which you consider your child needs to attend a particular school, in which case you would also need to provide strong medical evidence to substantiate your claim. Otherwise, reasons are completely ignored for allocating places in the admission procedure as they do not form part of the criteria or rules by which places are allocated.

 Last Updated October 2019

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Please note you will find considerable additional information about many Medway schools by entering their name in the search engine of this website, or by visiting Individual Schools

 

 

 

News and Information Items relevant to Medway Test and Grammar School Admission 

Medway Test Results October 2018

Further Analysis of Medway Test and Review Results October 2018

Missed Registration for the Kent and Medway Test; and Illness at the Time of the Test

Medway Secondary School Admissions 2020 

Oversubscription and Vacancies in Medway Grammar Schools: Allocation 2019

Medway Individual Schools Information (including oversubscription and appeals data)

Missed Registration for the Kent and Medway Test; and Illness at the Time of the Test

Ban on Late Testing for Medway Grammar Schools

 This page has a variety of information and links, including information on individual schools. 

For details of the Review and appeal process, go to Review.

Medway children are selected for grammar school using different tests and a different process of selection to that operated in Kent; see below.

For children in most primary schools, they will take the Tests in their own school  with some schools arranging the tests for the following Saturday. Details of school by school arrangements can be found in on the Medway School Admission arrangements page of the Council website. Children from outside Medway and at Kings School, Rochester, will take the tests in independent test centres 

Medway Test result and Review statistics for 2013 to 2018 entry are here.

Consult the article on In Year Admissions if you are looking for a new school at other times.

TIMETABLE

Key Action
Key Dates in Scheme
Opening Date for Registration for Medway Tests 9am Monday 3 June 2019
Closing Date for Registration for Medway Tests 5pm Monday 1 July 2019
Secondary school applications open
9am Monday 9 September 2019
Medway Test Date for children attending Medway primary, junior and independent schools which have opted to test in own school during the week Tuesday 17/ Wednesday 18 September 2019
Medway Test date for children attending Medway primary, junior and independent schools which have opted to test in own school on Saturday and those children from out of area and those Medway schools that have not opted to test in own school (will be tested in test centres). Saturday 21 September 2019
Parents informed of test results Monday 7 October 2019
Closing Date for review requests Monday 14 October 2019
Parents informed of review results posted by Wednesday 23 October 2019
Secondary School Applications Close 5 p.m. Thursday 31 October 2019
For later dates go to here
 
For the 2016 Medway Test, the Council switched to new providers, CEM, which has a different perspective to the previous providers. I was very surprised to see the previous strong bias towards girls which I had anticipated would expand completely vanished! 
 
Children take three tests: verbal reasoning, mathematics and extended writing. The first two tests are multiple choice, the English is a single piece of extended writing, usually to an essay title, but it can be any Key Stage 2 theme. The scores on each test are standardised according to the scores of Medway children taking the tests, so that a score of 100 is allocated to the average child who took the test. Scores then range from 70 to 140.
The scores from the three tests are then added together in the following way: verbal reasoning score given a weighting of one, and the maths and English scores given a weighting of two, so for example:

EXAMPLE:

Test
Score
Weighted Score
Verbal Reasoning 110 110
Mathematics 98 196
Extended Writing 100 200
Total Score 506
 
The pass score is then determined to admit 23% of Medway children (those from out of Medway are found selective in the same way, but their scores do not influence the calculations).  In 2013 the pass score was 509 so this child would not have passed. The Medway test pass mark for entry for 2013 it was 509, for 2014 it was 528 for 2015, 525, for 2016 it was 521, for 2017 it was 513, for 2018 it was 495 and for 2019 it was 492. The wide variation in pass scores is NO indication of the difficulty of the tests. It is a result of what is called local standardisation and is strongly influenced by the proportion of Medway children taking the test which varies from year to year.
 
I am very critical of this pattern of scoring, as Extended Writing is the least reliable of all tests used for selection processes, according to NFER who are the country's leading experts in test setting. Because it receives a double weighting, the result dwarfs that of verbal reasoning, a good predictor of academic success according to NFER. As a result, a child can gain a pass on the strength of a single strong essay, or similarly lose a place because they have misunderstood the extended writing question. There is no minimum mark required in any test. For these reasons, different children will perform well in Kent and Medway and so it may well be worth taking both sets of entrance tests, to secure a grammar school assessment (although each is only accepted in the Authority in which it is taken, except that the two Chatham grammar schools accept a pass in the Kent Test).
 
For 2017 entry, Medway Council changed its Test provider to a company called CEM. As a result and, I don't understand why, the previous bias towards girls passing the test vanished, although more girls than boys took the test (1000 girls against 921 boys). Also the test no longer favoured older children, although 1094 older children from the first half of the school year took it, against 878 in the second half. 
 
THE REVIEW PROCESS
 
Where children have taken the Medway Test and been unsuccessful, parents have the right to request a review of the decision within the next week. Results will be out in time for you to complete your SCAF. Parents will need to think carefully about whether to apply for a Review, as if unsuccessful, you may find yourself barred from making an appeal on academic grounds and in any case, the Review documents are presented to the appeal panel. For more information see Medway grammar school Review and appeal.
 
Consult the article on In Year Admissions if you are looking for a new school at other times. You may wish also to consult the page on Review and Appeal. As well as the issue with the full application form now being presented by most schools to the appeal panel, Medway Council also makes available the results of the Kent Test if taken, which are also usually presented. 
 

Warning on Medway School Admissions

Schools are not allowed to know the position you have placed them on the Application Form when drawing up rankings of children to determine who is awarded a place. However, for 2014 entry the whole application form,including reasons for applying for a school was sent to Admission Authorities to be provided as evidence for appeal panels when considering appeals. I understand this practice will continue for 2015 admission and subsequently, although I regard it as a seriously retrograde step placing parents in an invidious position regarding their choice of schools. It is certainly wrong according to the spirit, if not the letter, of the mandatory School Admissions Code,that does not allow schools to know in which order the parents have placed them on the form for admission purposes.  However, I am told it is legal and other Authorities (not Kent) also use it when parents appeal for a school place in March, It is possible that some schools which are their own admission authorities (including academies) may choose not to present the information to Independent Appeal Panels, but for 2014 appeals nearly all did. If you are likely to have to appeal, you therefore now have to consider order of preference on the Common Application Form much  more carefully than in previous years, as the school and appeal panel will now see all your preferences and be entitled to ask the reason for them.

Further, there is a section for you to provide the reason for applying to each school separately on the Form.  This used to be confidential to the school applied for and continues to be so, unless you appeal, when as it is on the common application form it is shared with all schools you are appealing to. Obviously if you put down strong reasons for applying to one school it may reflect badly on you if appealing for another! My advice is therefore clear. Do not put any entry in this section, unless you are applying on health grounds (or similar) on which you consider your child needs to attend a particular school, in which case you would also need to provide medical evidence to substantiate your claim. Otherwise, reasons are completely ignored for allocating places in the admission procedure as they do not form part of the criteria or rules by which places are allocated.

 
Kent and Medway
Kent parents who apply for a Medway grammar school place and need to go to Review (see below) will only receive the outcome a few days before the Kent SCAF needs to be submitted. You cannot appeal for a Medway grammar school place unless it is named on the SCAF. 

The Schools

A grammar school assessment does not necessarily secure a place at the school of one's choice. There is further information about each school in the Individual Schools section of this website, including the historical pattern of applications and appeals. With three girls' grammars and two for boys, there is greater pressure on places for the latter.  
 
Chatham Grammar for Girls has taken all local children who have passed for many years so, if your daughter has passed the Medway test and  if the school is named on your application form above any non selective school you name, you can be confident you will offered a grammar school place if you live in Medway. They will also offer places to children who have passed the Kent Test or even if they have failed the Medway Test or not taken it, any other nationally recognised selection tests (unspecified). Even if your child has only taken the Kent Test and not passed, you have the right to appeal to Chatham girls. Historically the school does not take note of whether the girl has been to Review or not. 
 
Fort Pitt Grammar (girls) reduced its Planned Admission Number to 120 from 190 some years ago. It has now changed its oversubscription criteria to give priority to children living within two miles and then on the Hoo Peninsula together with Cuxton Winning an appeal has been difficult and the school appeal panel applied the rule about unsuccessful Reviews (see above). With steadily rising rolls in Medway there was oversubscription in 2016-2019 For details go to Individual Schools, Medway.  
 
Holcombe Grammar School  (previously Chatham Grammar Boys). The school will offer places to children who have passed the Kent Test or even if they have failed the Medway Test or not taken it, any other nationally recognised selection tests (unspecified) on the same basis as those who have passed the Medway Test. Even if your child has only taken the Kent Test and not passed, you have the right to appeal to Holcombe Grammar. Otherwise I have no idea of what policy the school will take on any matter after the 2018 appeals shambles. You will find my first article on this here, and the final one here. There was just one boy successful in the 2019 appeals.
 
Rainham Mark Grammar School (mixed) until entry in 2017 awarded places on high scores, but for 2018 admissions onward, it has switched to awarding the large majority of places to those living closest. For 2019 its intake expanded again to 2035, but there were still 27 grammar qualified first choices turned away. It is difficult to win an appeal, with just 5 places being awarded in each of the recent years. For further details go to Individual Schools
 
The Rochester Grammar School (girls) is regularly oversubscribed and used to give priority to those girls with the highest scores up until 2019 admission. For 2020 onward it will give main priority to girls living nearest. I have written several articles about this change and the consequences, latest here
Sir Joseph Williamson's Mathematical School (boys) takes those boys who live nearest. Increased PAN again to 2013 for 2019.  Always heavily oversubscribed with local boys and turned away 70 grammar qualified first choices, some on  the Hoo Peninsula not gaining places, except some on appeal.  
The Howard School (boys) is not a grammar school, being technically bilateral (two parts, one selective and one non-selective) but caters for grammar ability boys. The grammar section has now dwindled, and most boys in this part of the school were originally non-selective but passed an internal test after being accepted into the school. Admission to the grammar section is no longer dependent on the Medway Test. 
Last Updated October 2019

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This page is designed primarily for parents resident in Medway, whose children will be transferring to state secondary schools in September 2020. It should be read in conjunction with the pages on Medway Grammar School Admissions and Kent Secondary School Admissions.

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

You will find the full Medway Co-Ordinated Admission Scheme for entry in September 2020 here.

Please note that for parents applying for any school in Medway outside the normal admission round, you will need to go through the In Year Admission process. For schools run by Medway Council applications need to be made through the Council. Most academies and Voluntary Aided schools manage their own late and in year admissions, in which case they are technically nothing to do with the Council. However, some of these still delegate the process to Medway Council. In my experience Medway Council does not appear to operate a systematic approach to such admissions, with varying advice, some of it breaking the Schools Admission Code. You will find further details here

News and Information Items relevant to Medway Secondary School Admission for September 2020 

Oversubscription and Vacancies in Medway Non-Selective Schools: Allocation March 2019

Oversubscription and Vacancies in Medway Grammar Schools: Allocation March 2019

Secondary School Allocation Statistics in Medway for September 2019: Initial Statistics

Secondary School Appeals

Medway Grammar School Review and Appeals

Information on Individual Medway Secondary Schools

 
Statistics for 2010 to 2018, including Medway Test result and Review entry are here.

Consult the article on In Year Admissions if you are looking for a new school at other times.

TIMETABLE
 
Key Action
Key Dates in Scheme
Opening date for registration for Medway Tests 9am Monday 3 June 2019
Closing date for registration for Medway Tests 5pm Monday 1 July 2019
Secondary school applications open 9am Monday 9 September 2019
Medway Test Date for children attending Medway primary, junior and independent schools which have opted to test in own school during the week Tuesday 17/ Wednesday 18 September 2019
Medway Test date for children attending Medway primary, junior and independent schools which have opted to test in own school on Saturday and those children from out of area and those Medway schools that have not opted to test in own school (will be tested in test centres). Saturday 21 September 2019
Parents informed of test results Monday 7 October 2019
Closing Date for review requests Monday 14 October 2019
Parents informed of review results by Wednesday 23 October 2019
National Closing Date for Common Application Form (online and SCAF) 5pm Thursday 31 October 2019
National Offer Day, offers posted or sent by email Monday 2 March 2020
Places must be accepted/refused and requests to go on a waiting list and appeals must be submitted By Tuesday 31 March 2020
Vacant places re-allocated by Medway Council Monday 20 April 2020 until Thursday 31 December 2020

Whilst there are national closing and offer dates, each Local Authority operates slightly different processes for allocating pupils, for example Medway parents have six choices and Kent parents have four choices. The Medway secondary school admission prospectus (an essential item, available from Medway Council or your local primary school), or online here, when available, contains details of the all important oversubscription rules, which determine if you will be offered a place if too many people apply. Medway residents need to apply on the  Medway Secondary Common Application Form (SCAF), also listing any schools in Kent applied for. In the same way, residents of Kent and other Local Authorities should apply for Medway schools on their own Local Authority application form. 

GRAMMAR SCHOOL TESTING

It is essential that all parents, who are considering entering their child for the Medway or Kent tests, register their child on the appropriate form obtainable from the primary school or the LA. In Medway, you will find a copy of the form in the LA Prospectus “Admission to Secondary School”. Your child cannot take the Medway or Kent tests if he or she has not been registeredYou cannot be considered for a Medway grammar school if your child has not sat the  Medway tests, except in the case of the two Chatham Grammars - see following. There is nothing to lose by entering your child for both tests. For the two Chatham Grammar Schools, admission is via success in either Kent or Medway tests. Medway Grammar School applications are considered in more detail on a separate page.
 
THE REVIEW PROCESS 
Where children have taken the Medway Test and been unsuccessful, parents have the right to request a review of the decision within the next week. Results will be out in time for you to complete your SCAF. Parents will need to think carefully about whether to apply for a Review, as if unsuccessful, you may find yourself barred from making an appeal on academic grounds and in any case, the Review documents are presented tot he appeal panel. For more information see Medway grammar school Review and appeal.
 
APPLICATIONS 
Most Secondary School Open Days take place in the Autumn Term. Most Grammar schools hold Open Days after assessment results are sent out on 7th October. Details of these are published in the Medway Admissions Booklet.

Parents will then be able to select up to six schools in order on the Secondary Common Application Form (SCAF).   

Some scenarios:
 
 1) If the child has passed the Medway tests, you may name just grammar schools on your SCAF. Because there are falling numbers in Medway secondary schools, there are plenty of vacancies in the system, so naming all grammar schools for which your child is eligible ensures he or she will be allocated to one of these. 
 2) If your child has not taken the eleven plus, you can only be considered for non selective schools.
 3) If your child has taken the eleven plus and not passed, and you wish to appeal, you must name the grammar schools you wish to appeal to on the SCAF, together with any non selective schools you wish to apply to.
 4) 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 your child is eligible. If this is the non selective school then you will be offered it in preference to a grammar school lower down your list.
5) Note if you finish up appealing see "Warning" below.
 
The process of identifying which one school your child will be offered on National Offer Day is called an Equal Preference Scheme and is quite complex to understand.
 
However:
 
You will not boost your chances at a school by placing it in a different order than your genuine preference. Sadly, some schools still verbally advise parents otherwise. No Kent or Medway school is told the position where parents have placed a school on the SCAF at allocation time, and so none can offer a place according to position.
 
Each school draws up a list of eligible applicants in terms of priority according to their oversubscription criteria. They are not told where you have listed them on the SCAF, so list schools exactly as you prefer them and don’t be swayed by any school telling you it gives priority to those who list them first. Your child will then be offered the highest preference school for which they are eligible. This means that some children could get their fourth choice ahead of others who listed it first if their claim is stronger. If your child does not qualify for any school on your SCAF, the LA will offer a place at the nearest Medway school it judges as appropriate, or sensible.

Warning on Medway School Admissions

Schools are not allowed to know the position you have placed them on the Application Form when drawing up rankings of children to determine who is awarded a place. However, for appeals the whole application form,including reasons for applying for a school is sent to schools being appealed for to be provided as evidence for appeal panels when considering appeals. I regard it as a seriously retrograde step placing parents in an invidious position regarding their choice of schools. It is certainly wrong according to the spirit, if not the letter, of the mandatory School Admissions Code,that does not allow schools to know in which order the parents have placed them on the form for admission purposes.  However, I am told it is legal and other Authorities (not Kent) also use it when parents appeal for a school place in March, It is possible that some schools which are their own admission authorities (including academies) may choose not to present the information to Independent Appeal Panels. If you are likely to have to appeal, you therefore have to consider order of preference on the Common Application Form much  more carefully than in previous years, as the school and appeal panel will now see all your preferences and be entitled to ask the reason for them.

Further, there is a section for you to provide the reason for applying to each school separately on the Form.  This used to be confidential to the school applied for and continues to be so, unless you appeal, when as it is on the common application form it is shared with all schools you are appealing to. Obviously if you put down strong reasons for applying to one school it may reflect badly on you if appealing for another! My advice is therefore clear. Do not put any entry in this section, unless you are applying on health grounds (or similar) on which you consider your child needs to attend a particular school, in which case you would also need to provide medical evidence to substantiate your claim. Otherwise, reasons are completely ignored for allocating places in the admission procedure as they do not form part of the criteria or rules by which places are allocated.

APPEALS

Your right to appeal is to a particular school, and so you must have applied for it on your SCAF. Medway Council has determined that no late applications to grammar schools are allowed outside the normal process.  For Kent, you will need to use the In Year Admission process. For Medway, you probably need to go through the Council who also hold waiting lists for all the schools and  academies. The Medway process is often difficult and you may be initially told it is not possible. 
Grammar school appeals are likewise not against a non selective decision in general, but must be made for a named school. As a result, you must list any school you wish to appeal for on your SCAF. You have to wait until National Offer day on 2nd March before the school technically rejects your application and only then can you appeal.
This year the first appeals were heard in the last week of March (Medway tends to come first), the final ones not being heard until the middle of June.
 
GUIDANCE
 
It is difficult to give general guidance on placing schools in order, as circumstances change enormously from town to town depending on popularity of individual schools and their oversubscription rules. Above all, make sure that you and your child visit the schools you are considering.
  • For all oversubscribed schools find out if you would have been accepted last year. Ask for the distance from school the furthest pupil who was accepted lived. Many church schools admit children according to their level of church support. Find out which category of religious support was the lowest accepted.
  • Each Medway school and academy makes its own rules and you need to check these out carefully to find if you are likely to be offered a place.
  •  Check the rules about free school transport, which only apply if you live more than three miles from your nearest appropriate school, or for certain church schools (this is different from Kent where children only qualify if they live more than three miles from their nearest school without taking into account "appropriate". These rules are detailed in the School Admission Booklet for your LA. See the page on School Transport and Appeals. If applying for a grammar school, especially if you live on the Hoo Peninsula make sure you apply to the nearest grammar school somewhere on your list (even if you are unlikely to be offered a place there). If you are trying to secure free transport to one of the Chatham Grammar Schools you may need to appeal to the nearest (usually RGS or the Math, and be turned down to satisfy the Council that the Chatham Grammar is your nearest appropriate available. 
  • Try and make sure that you will be eligible for at least one school on your list, otherwise you will be allocated the nearest one with vacancies, which may not be to your liking.
  • Parents applying for secondary school places may be given a supplementary form “only where the additional information is required for the governing body to apply their oversubscription criteria to the application”. In Medway, this only applies to St John Fisher Catholic School. You are under no obligation to provide information which is not required for this purpose. No form should ask parents to state what preferences they have named on their SCAF, or the order in which they have stated their preferences, as no school requires this to apply its oversubscription criteria.
  • In Medway, 89% of children secured their first or second choice in March for entry in September 2019 (92% in 2018 & 91% in 2017). 
  • If not offered the school of your choice you can apply to go on the waiting list for any or all schools at which you have been turned down. Application forms sent with decision letter on 2st March. 
  • Both Kent and Medway have an on-line application system on which parents can change choices up to the closing date. Details of the Medway scheme can be found here. One concern for primary heads is that because they do not see these forms, they are unable to check if parents have made sensible decisions. Conversely, parents can hide decisions from the school, – valuable where certain primary schools strongly encourage certain applications. On-line applicants will be able to access decisions after 4 p.m. on 2nd March. Paper applicants will receive decisions by post on 3nd March.
  • Most Medway secondary schools use nearness of homes to the school as measured by the nearest safe walking route determined by the Medway Council Geographical Information System. In a series of successful appeals in recent years, I have demonstrated that the application of this system can be flawed.
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