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Displaying items by tag: secondary admissions

Government introduced new flexibility into the number of places each secondary school could offer for 2013, and many popular Kent schools responded positively with hundreds of families being pleasantly surprised to receive offers at schools they were not expecting. 

For 2014, the situation has changed further and considerably, some of the changes being confirmed, others removed and more having made increases, or in a few cases decreases, in their numbers. Further, we can be sure that some schools will once again increase their admission number when and only when they see their application numbers.

I have identified below those changes that are confirmed, although several are subject to further change before March. There is also the additional factor for a number of non-selective schools which, knowing they may lose children in the post allocation churn, mop up any appellants before the appeals take place. See article on appeals below

There are three major consequences of these changes:

1)  Parents can’t be sure when making application decisions, if the number of places advertised for a school will be increased by the school after applications go in. This can only happen in the case of an academy, free school or a Foundation or Voluntary Aided School who are their own admission authorities.  

2)  This pattern both of uncertainty and lack of similar historical patterns makes it more difficult for parents in some areas to make logical choices.

3)  For schools, government policy allowing popular schools to expand has the mirror consequence that those at the bottom of the pile are likely to spiral into further decline in numbers. I anticipate that as a result there will be closures within a couple of years.

A detailed breakdown of the known changes follows.....

Published in News Archive
Wednesday, 16 October 2013 07:30

Kent Eleven Plus results

Kent Eleven Plus decisions are now available for parents online, a hard copy being sent by post tomorrow.The decision is just one of pass/fail, with marks available from the child's primary school. The pass marks for the Kent 11 plus Test have been varied slightly from last year. Children must either have achieved a total score of 360, with a minimum of 118 in each paper, or alternatively found to have been selective on the Headteacher Assessment (HTA) The pass is set to select 21% of children attending Kent primary schools (in those parts of Kent that were once the traditional selective areas), the same requirements then being applied for all other children in Kent and out of county as well. The aggregate score of 360 is the same as for 2013 entry, although the minimum in each paper has been relaxed slightly this year from the previous 119, to produce the 21% target. As last year, the maximum score is 423. Approximately another 4% are found selective through the HTA process. If your child is found successful at the HTA they are classified as selective and will be treated equally with any other child at grammar schools that ask for a pass as the academic standard (i.e. except for the super-selectives). If parents wish to know the scores on individual papers, they will need to contact their primary school. The number of children passing the Kent test has risen slightly this year to 5370, although the number of Kent passes has fallen slightly; further details below. 

In practice,.......

Published in News Archive

I now have official details of the pattern of children crossing the Kent and Medway boundaries to take up secondary school places for 2013 entry and, as in previous years it gives a very different picture from the more lurid headlines on this issue. I have divided the cross border movement into four sections below: Medway; North West Kent; West Kent & South Kent. I don't have precise figures for which part of the county children live in so some of these figures are best estimates. The headline figures are: 589 children from out of Kent are taking up places in Kent secondary schools, with 436 going the other way, figures very similar to 2012. But don't jump to conclusions. Read the following:...

Published in News Archive

Medway Secondary Common Application Forms (SCAF) are due in by 31st October, the National Closing Date. For Kent  - because of the half term break, KCC will accept SCAFs that are received by the Kent primary school headteacher by the morning of 7 November, or that are made online up to 23.59 on 5 November. I am not sugggesting you should leave them that late. 

Some general thoughts and then a look at a few specific parts of Kent, where there may be changes developing ; .......

Published in News Archive

 

The pass mark for the Kent 11 plus Test is the same as last year. Children must have achieved a total score of 360, with a minimum of 119 in each paper or found to have been selective on the Headteacher Assessment. The pass is set to allow 21% of children attending Kent primary schools through, although the pass standard is the same for all other children as well. Approximately another 4% are found selective through the Headteacher Assessment process, explained here, about half way down the page. If your child is found successful at the HTA they are classified as selective and will be treated equally with any other child at grammar schools which ask for a pass as the academic standard (i.e. except for the super-selectives). If parents wish to know the scores on individual papers, they will need to contact their primary school. 

In practice,.......

Published in News Archive

(Article in progress, updated 1 Oct 2012)

Kent County Council has quietly released a Commissioning Plan setting out its proposals for new school places across the county for both primary and secondary schools, on a district by district basis, looking at the consequences for individual schools. The main headline is that over 10,000 new places need to be produced by 2016. You will find the full plan here. The Commissioning Plan identifies proposals for creating 5194 places by 2014, and at present there are no clear plans for the remaining 5000 places - although there is time now to consider options.

A preliminary press release focused on 35 additional classrooms being added in the current school year, catering for the additional  reception classes which were set up to cater for mainly unexpected demand.

I believe this is an essential document; it is just regrettable that when it was proposed in 2009, on the back of warnings about school place shortages, no action was taken, resulting in some of the temporary fixes we have seen in the past two years, described elsewhere in this website. Details follow below.......

The document looks at each District, and names the schools due for expansion and where new primary schools are to be commissioned  in the next four years, I summarise these as follows, although you need to check the plan for the detail......

Published in News Archive

The main secondary school appeals are now ended, although places are still being freed up, mainly in non-selective schools through movement in waiting lists. This article is an overview of the latest situation across Kent and Medway, although I am happy to be corrected on details or to add in additional items. In particular,  information on non-selective school situations would be helpful.

 For grammar schools, the main pressure area has been West & North West Kent for boys,   with Tunbridge Wells Grammar school for Boys having 89 appeals, and Wilmington Grammar School for Boys having around 70. As a result Kent County Council came under considerable pressure  from families whose sons had passed the 11+, but had no grammar school place. In the event,  nearly all of these boys have been offered places off waiting lists or at appeals, with TWGSB taking 32 at appeal, Wilmington over 30,  Gravesend Grammar taking in nearly all who had passed without the need to go to appeal. 

Oakwood Park in Maidstone has also taken up a number of these and, after appeals, now has 164 places allocated, leaving its additional form of entry only part filled. As a result, this OFSTED ‘Outstanding school’  is surprisingly still welcoming applications from anyone who has passed and should be able to offer the vacant places without appeal.   I believe that otherwise all these schools are now full, along with Skinners, Judd, Dartford Grammar Boys and Maidstone Grammar. Interestingly, admission authorities can accept a second appeal .......“because of a significant and material change in the circumstances of the parent or child”.  For example, if your child comes up with two Level 5s in the recent SATs it may be worthwhile  asking  a grammar school with vacancies if it will consider a second appeal (it has an absolute right to say no). ......... 

Published in News Archive
Tuesday, 21 December 2010 18:21

Admissions Fraud

Last updated July 2017

Fraudulent Admission applications occur for places in both Primary and secondary schools and in every Local Authority in the country, including both Kent and Medway. 

I believe this is a growing problem, and what is seen is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. The reasons for this are often through desperation, as parents seek either to secure a place at the best school in the area, or a suitable school when faced with unpalatable alternatives. As such, one can understand their motives, but this is grossly unfair to those children and families who play by the rules. 

There are now two sanctions which are applied for applicants who are caught out making a fraudulent application. The first is the simple one of cancelling the application which can cause the perpetrator significant problems in securing an alternative place, or else cancelling a place at the school even if the child has taken up a place there. The second is for the Local Authority, or presumably the school Governing Body for a Foundation school or Academy, to initiate a prosecution as happened in two alleged cases in Harrow and Poole.  Neither of these were successful for whatever reason, and may have inhibited other Authorities from taking similar action, but the problem remains. I wrote a previous article, but relating to primary schools, here

I am regularly approached about this issue and will not advise on how to obtain a place at a school fraudulently. On the other hand, I successfully supported clients who have found out about a fraudulent application, to see it cancelled to enhance the chances of honest families to secure a place at their chosen school. I remain happy to pass on information on this issue anonymously to the appropriate authorities.

Currently I am aware of only one Admission Authority, the Governing Body of Tunbridge Wells Girls Grammar School, which routinely carries out checks on applicants, an initiative I applaud for a massively popular school in an area where it is evident that some families do take out short term leases to attempt to secure school places. However, I anticipate that the practice of attempting to  obtain school places by fraudulent means will grow.

The Schools Adjudicator carried out an enquiry into the practice of Fraudulent Admission to schools in 2009. He found some small and medium sized Local Authorities considered they had more than 100 identified fraudulent applications, whilst others, including large LAs, had none. In the same period KCC had 13 reported cases, of which most were dismissed. My own observations in the intervening years, suggest the problem has ballooned.

I consider Kent has two weaknesses in its procedure. The first lies in its delegation of discovering fraud to individual schools (I believe most cases of attempted fraud occur in primary schools), most of which do not have the resources to investigate such issues. The second is Kent's loose definition of place of residence when compared with some other authorities, which I have taken up with the Council but to no avail. Update July 2017: After years of lobbying by me, Kent now has a much tighter definition of residence for its own primary schools. Other schools should take note, but don't, some because they simply don;t want to know. 

The most common method of fraud identified was the use of addresses of relatives, the next being the taking up of short term leases or rental agreements on houses with no intention of living there. Update July 2017: I believe the latter is now the most common although I only have circumstantial evidence for this through the examples I have come across.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kent County Council figures show an increase in the number of children being offered their first choice secondary school on 1st March, up to 80%.  However, this means that over 3000 children did not get their chosen school, in many cases producing family heartbreak.

Schools in both Kent and Medway show wide fluctuations in popularity, with Academies making much of the news.  Eighteen schools each turned away more than fifty children who put them in first place, whilst at the other end of the scale six schools were over half empty before KCC added to their numbers with children who had been given none of their choices.

For the third year running, Leigh Technology Academy (Dartford) was top of the oversubscription lists, with 218 disappointed first choice applicants. Second was Skinners School (but see below), third  Valley Park, Maidstone, centre of a major row over fullness last year, with 112 turned away, an even larger number than 2009. Other schools oversubscribed by more than 50 first choice applicants are (in order):  Homewood (Tenterden); North School (Ashford); Judd School; Thomas Aveling (Rochester); Fulston Manor  then Westlands (both Sittingbourne); Bennett Memorial (TW); Folkestone Academy; Tonbridge Grammar School, Brockhill Park (Hythe);  Sandwich Technology College; Mascalls (Paddock Wood); Charles Dickens (Broadstairs); Gillingham Academy, Weald of Kent Grammar and Hayesbrook (Tonbridge).

Whilst these  figures are normally the best guide to popularity, the Skinners School figure is considerably inflated as many of their first choices were actually crowded out by children who did not score enough to get into The Judd School but then secured places at Skinners, as their second choice. These are the vagaries of the super selection debate.

Four of the half empty schools: Christchurch (Ashford); New Line Learning (Maidstone); Skinners Kent Academy (TW); and Wildernesse (Sevenoaks) are hoping for a better future as they are either new Academies or about to become Academies. The school with the greatest fall in first choices is Wilmington Enterprise College (currently in Special Measures), also due to become an Academy, so the programme is clearly fulfilling its intention of targeting problem schools. Indeed, the new Longfield Academy has obviously turned the corner as far as parents are concerned and has the greatest increase in first choices (67) of any Kent or Medway school.

The pressure of out of county children taking up places in Kent grammar schools is once again greatest in the North West of the county , with 241 children taking up places in the four Dartford Grammar Schools (36 of these coming from as far away as Lewisham) as opposed to just 53 in the three West Kent super selectives.  My view on the cause of the pressure in West Kent grammars is starting to swing towards the intense coaching culture being the prime source of the problem.

Many of these figures will have changed this week as parents had to decide whether to accept places offered and there will be happiness for some, offered places off the waiting lists. As many as 700 further children may gain places through the appeal procedure, although this stressful process goes on until July for some.

One last statistic: 151 Kent children are bound for Medway schools with 116 coming the other way. School planners are required by government to reduce the number of empty places in schools and spend much time making decisions based on local population figures, when choices often cross boundaries.  The more I see figures such as the above, the more I become convinced that parents en masse have a wisdom about which are the best non-selective schools and their collective voice should be listened to.  I am not so sure this applies to grammar schools, where some parents chase the top scoring schools without stopping to look at the underlying factors.

Published in Newspaper Articles
Tuesday, 07 September 2010 19:03

Secondary School Admissions: KOS Sept 2010

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 www.kentadvice.co.uk 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.

Peter J Read

Independent Education Advice

Published in Newspaper Articles
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