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Displaying items by tag: secondary admissions


Parents of Kent children, applying for secondary schools, learned their allocated schools last week. Overall figures were very similar to last year, although the number of children given none of their choices rose from 413 to 443. As usual, West Kent is the main problem area (not to overlook other hot-spots), although the difficulties are clearly more pronounced this year, especially amongst children qualified for grammar schools. All three of the ‘super-selectives’ - Judd School, Skinners School and Tonbridge Grammar School -  saw their base-line Kent Test score for entry rise, Judd requiring a record marks aggregate of 418 points (maximum possible 420), and even then some with this score did not gain admission. There are three main reasons for the increase:  the intensive coaching culture in West Kent (especially from the private schools chasing grammar school places) is seeing more children in West Kent passing and also gaining  high scores; more children from outside Kent crossing the boundary this year, although we don’t yet know the schools they went to; and the economic climate seeing a fall in admissions to several private schools, putting more pressure on grammar schools. Girls appear to have lost out in the south, including Pembury and Langton Green, whilst many boys around north Sevenoaks and Riverhead have not been offered any grammar school place.  Some have been allocated to the Knole Academy in Sevenoaks, which has opened an additional class planning to make it a grammar school stream. Many villages to the north through to Dartford are affected, Dartford Grammar School only offering local places to boys living in the town itself, most of the remainder taken up by boys from SE London right through to Lewisham (the train journey is easy) who achieve highest scores, the cut off again reaching a record, of 414 points.  Meanwhile Dartford Girls and Gravesend Boys were not able to take all qualified children in their hinterlands. As the Kent 11+ selects just 25% of the children from across selective parts of Kent, the increase in the West is balanced by fewer successes in the East, leaving several grammar schools there with vacancies.

I believe these trends are making the concept of a common test with common pass mark impossible to maintain, especially as grammar schools have new freedoms to choose their own admission rules, some setting higher pass marks than the standard, hastening the breakup of the system.  KCC is now looking at alternatives that address some of the issues above, but anything new will have to be by consensus as the Authority now has no power to impose solutions. My fear is that individual schools will be tempted to set their own entrance tests, leading to the dreadful outcome we see around the M25, as parents drive their children to different grammar school tests every Saturday through September and October. Slightly more sensible solutions may include a common test with differing pass marks for each school, or perhaps an additional paper of a more difficult standard to discriminate between the ablest children.

Another possibility is the proposal for a disused school site in Sevenoaks to be adapted as an annexe to two current grammar schools (one boys and one girls), although legal problems surrounding this are complex. There is also a competing proposal for a church free school on the site whose formal proposal has been submitted to government, and would attract considerable government funding.

Meanwhile, the time bomb of rising pupil numbers, especially in Tunbridge Wells, is spreading through the primary schools, creating intense pressure on local schools – and secondary schools within a few years.

Sadly, government policy has meant there is now no planning authority to resolve these issues and we are destined to see more such problems in the future as the cracks widen. 

Published in Newspaper Articles

I am now starting to see the picture relating to Kent & Medway school vacancies. Thanks to those who have provided me with some of the following information; I would be grateful for any information that helps fill out the picture. However, I shan't get the full statistics for Kent schools for another fortnight (FOI). 

It is already clear that with each school choosing its own oversubscription rules many parents are confused about why their child has not got a place at a school of their choice. Unfortunately, more and more schools are choosing rules to suit themselves and there is no longer a system attempting to cater for all. You will find more general information below

This article will be extended as I receive further information, and as I have time to update it. 


Published in News Archive
Thursday, 01 March 2012 16:00

Kent & Medway Secondary Transfer Day

Latest additions in bold. 

Parents in Kent and Medway will have started receiving the allocated secondary schools for their children from 4 p.m. today (Thursday) if they registered to receive them by email, otherwise everyone should have received their decision by post on Friday. 

Headlines: Much the same as for 2011; main difference is a further rise in pressure on West & North West Kent grammar schools, fuelled by an increase in out county  applicants. Super selective required scores provided below

Congratulations to my first enquirer for a consultation, from Medway 4.15 p.m.!

The main Kent table of outcomes is as follows:....

Published in News Archive

Kent County Council figures show a pleasing increase in the number of children being offered their first choice secondary school on 1st March, up from 80% in 2010 to 83% in 2011. Just 413 got none of their choices.  With nearly 500 fewer Kent children in the system, waiting lists for popular schools are generally much lower this year.  There is a similar picture in Medway with 87% of children being allocated their first choice school, although this is helped by a fall in the age group of nearly 10%.

Last year the eighteen most popular schools each turned away more than 50 children who put them in first place, but this year the same number of schools sees the bar drop to 40 places oversubscribed.

Leigh Technology Academy (Dartford) remains Kent’s most popular school for the fourth year running, with 199 disappointed first choice applicants. Second comes Tonbridge Grammar, with 104 girls who had passed the eleven plus turned away. After Westlands (Sittingbourne) on 94, comes Dartford Grammar School with 88, entering the lists for the first time as applicants from the London Boroughs realised the school was accessible, a third of the places going to high scoring applicants from out of county. Next in line was Judd School (grammar, Tonbridge), followed by: Valley Park School (Maidstone); Fulston Manor School (Sittingbourne); Brockhill Park Performing Arts College (Hythe); Brompton Academy (Gillingham); King Ethelbert School (Margate  – new entry); and The Thomas Aveling School (Rochester).

Then follows Skinner’s School (grammar, Tunbridge Wells ), slipping from its position as most popular grammar school in 2010, and: Folkestone Academy; Dartford Grammar School for Girls;  Canterbury High School; Hillview School for Girls (Tonbridge); Bennett Memorial Diocesan School (Tunbridge Wells); and Simon Langton Girls Grammar School (Canterbury – new entry).

At the other end of the scale, four Kent schools were over half empty before KCC drafted in additional children who had been offered none of their choices: Skinner’s Kent Academy; Angley School (Cranbrook); Walmer Science College, and New Line Learning Academy (Maidstone).  One wonders how some of these schools can continue to function with finances depending on pupil numbers.

The school with the greatest increase in popularity was Dartford Grammar School (up 55 disappointed first choices), the biggest loser was surprisingly Homewood School in Tenterden, down 100, but still oversubscribed.

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 189 children taking up places in the four Dartford Grammar Schools (52 of these coming from as far away as Lewisham and Greenwich) as opposed to just 57 in the three West Kent super selectives, both figures very similar to last year.

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.

Published in Newspaper Articles

Another knotty problem for Michael Gove.

Following Kent secondary school allocations on 1st March just gone, 9% of places in Year Seven were left empty or occupied by children who had not applied for the schools in question. The Audit Commission considers there should be no more than 5% empty spaces in any area or authority. So there is a problem in Kent. However, with 49 of the100 Kent secondary schools either Academies or well on the way and another 36 Foundation or Voluntary Aided schools partially independent of KCC,  the county has lost all control of its ability to plan numbers of places to fit the population, and so has no way of meeting government targets...... (read more)

Published in Newspaper Articles
Wednesday, 26 January 2011 17:07

Radio Kent, Children with SEN in Performance Tables

I gave an interview on Radio Kent (today) supporting a letter written by Sarah Hohler (Kent County Council Cabinet Member for Education) to Michael Gove urging him to reconsider the inclusion of many children with SEN in Government performance tables as they distorted the achievements of schools. I made three points:.........

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 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 have 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 am also 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 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
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!


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