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Wednesday, 16 April 2014 00:00

Kent Primary School Allocations April 2014

Kent and Medway primary school parents have now received details of Reception Class allocations, or where appropriate those for Junior Schools,  together with details of how to apply to go on a waiting list or to appeal. The parallel article for Medway parents is immediately below this one. 

The headline figures are that: 

  • The number of children allocated places is up by 3.6% over 2013 to 17,097.
  • The proportion  of children offered a school named on their application form, at 95.34% is the second highest in the past four years and beyond. 
  • The number of children offered their first school, at 14516 is the highest ever, but the proportion has fallen slightly to 84.90%
  • The number of disappointed children offered no school of their choice has risen to 796, but is a lower proportion of the total than in 2012 or 2011. ..... 

Reports on the national scene have been very grim in places, and Kent appears to be far better placed than many. In spite of the twin repeated observations on this website that (a) I do not give advice to families living outside Kent and Medway (also excluding London Boroughs that were part of Kent pre-1965) and (b) very few Primary Appeals can be successful because of Infant Class legislation (see below), I have had enquiries from desperate families across the country in: Bexley, Birmingham, Brighton, Bromley, Cornwall, Hertfordshire and Lancashire, but sadly am unable to assist.  

Also below, I reproduce the statistics relating to appeal outcomes in Kent and Medway last year. Headline is that where Infant Class Legislation applies, just 18 out of 546 appeals were successful, although 132 families dropped out of the process before the appeals was heard, many after seeing the appeal paperwork.  

Early problems are emerging at Tunbridge Wells, where the 23 extra places at the Wells Free School don't even compensate for last year's reduction of 30 at Claremont Primary (cut off distance just 160 yards), and the problems with Bishops Down reducing from an intake of 60 to one of 30, a decision of governors, but a situation badly handled by KCC. With 37 siblings applying, seven of these have not been offered places. I will have the full picture when I see the relevant data, from about the middle of May. A comment below refers to one parent's problem. 

 

Kent Primary Schools: allocation to Reception classes April 2014
Offers to Kent Pupils 2014 2013 2012  2011 
  No of pupils % No of pupils % No of pupils % No of pupils %

 Offered a school named on the application form

16301

95.34%

15,838 95.99% 15,476 94.98% 15,151 95.18%

Offered a first preference

14516

84.90%

14,264 86.45% 13,879 85.18% 13,682 85.95%
Offered a second preference 1239 7.25% 1,127 6.83% 1,145 7.03% 1,062 6.67%
Offered a third preference 546 3.19% 447 2.71% 452 2.77% 407 2.56%
Allocated by local authority 796 4.65% 661 4.01% 818 5.02% 768 4.82%
Total number of offers 17097 16,499 16,249  15919

 In addition, 60 places were offered to children from outside Kent, mainly in Medway and Dartford to schools on the county boundaries.  

There is no doubt that Kent has started, over the past few years, to plan additional places in primary schools, rather than last minute pushing and shoving, which was the norm a few years ago. The Commissioning Plan for new places is proving to be a very sensible approach, however, the county is still playing catch  up for the failures of previous years to plan ahead and too many of the additional places are in underperforming or failing schools. 

I don't yet have the details of pressure on individual districts, but I anticipate that once again too many parents in Tonbridge, Maidstone, Thanet and Tunbridge Wells will be disappointed. 

I disagree with the conventional wisdom that the problems are caused by parents chasing the best schools; in my experience they are either trying to avoid the underperforming and failing ones, of which there are too many, or else cannot even get into a nearby school as other families have a greater claim. 

Many parents, on not being offered the reception class place(s) of their choice look to the appeal process to try and win one. The bad news is that because of what is called Infant Class Legislation, it is almost impossible to win an appeal for an infant place and I will rarely get involved unless there is a possible case of maladministration of allocation of places. Your best chance of securing a place is through the waiting list process, although there is nothing to stop you pursuing both. I enclose details of last year's appeal outcomes below, taken from the statistics section of this website. 

However, I would very much appreciate being informed of problem areas in order to track, report and comment on them. In a few weeks I shall have a complete breakdown of primary allocations by school and district, and will then publish a more comprehensive article, as last year. 

 

Kent and Medway Primary School Appeals 2013

 

I have provided commentary to these statistics here.  
 
To quote from the Statutory Code of Practice for School Appeals, relating to Infant Class Legislation: "The threshold for finding that an admission authority’s decision to refuse admission was not one that a reasonable authority would have made is high. The panel will need to be satisfied that the decision to refuse to admit the child was ‘perverse in the light of the admission arrangements’ i.e. it was ‘beyond the range of responses open to a reasonable decision maker’ or ‘a decision which is so outrageous in its defiance of logic or of accepted moral standards that no sensible person who had applied his mind to the question could have arrived at it'". Most of the decisions upheld below, will have been made because of an error in process in awarding other places. 
 
 
Kent Primary School Appeal Outcomes 2013
 
Number of 
Appeals
Upheld Rejected
Appeal
Withdrawn
Place offered
before Appeal
Appeals where Infant
Class Legislation Applies
546 18 364 132 30
No ICL 86 22 48 12 4
Junior Schools 33 10 20 2 1
 

   

Medway Primary School Appeal Outcomes 2013
 
Number of 
Appeals
Upheld Rejected
Appeal
Withdrawn
Place offered
before Appeal
Reception Class Appeals  157  6  98  28  25
Junior Schools  6  2  0  0  4
 

 



Last modified on Monday, 26 May 2014 07:30

5 comments

  • Comment Link Friday, 29 January 2016 13:00 posted by Vicky

    Hi there!
    Just wanted to share our experience so that people are aware. We've just moved from Berkshire to Ashford (Orchard Heights). I have a 5-years old who is in Year 1. There are loads of schools in Ashford and a few new one (Repton and Kennington)so didn't think it would be too much of an issue. I've contacted the 12 schools the nearest to us (regardless of Ofsted report,etc.)and I'm hearing the same things everywhere: no space please fill in a form to go on the waiting list. We've filled in 7 forms (which should put us on 7 waiting list). 2 weeks on, we are still to hear from 3 schools formal reply (though I thought they had to legally reply to us within 5 days). The LEA is advising that 3 schools have spaces: Ashford Oak would have two. I was very surprised as I called them in the morning to hear they had none. I called them again and was told they had one as one was in the process to be given. They said to us that they would be happy to put us on the waiting list. I found this so puzzling, if they have a space, we are in their catchment why the waiting list. As I insisted, the secretary asked more questions, and said something like: "Well, you live quite far...". In the end, she agreed for us to send the LEA form as my little one has no school at all but she asked the name of her previous school. A week on, and I haven't heard of them. Honestly with the dealing I had with this school so far, it had put me off that school altogether. That leaves us with two schools left: - Finberry Academy which is due to Move to Finberry. That's a 10 minutes drive on the motorway ; - East Stour which is 15 min drive on the M20 but with the stack operation going on I'm really nervous about accepting either of these space. There are new developments happening all over the town such as in Repton Park and Park Farm, and yet no class or school in the pipeline. LEA is pressurising us to pick a school quickly before they go, yet I'm still waiting for formal replies. I've found out by a neighbour that Pluckley primary school accept new kids and so ended all my headaches. I just wanted to highlight the failings of this system.
    The lovely lady at the LEA who has been advising me is based in Maidstone and probably do not have the local knowledge and is relying on a database based on a crow flies distance.PETER: My article at: http://www.kentadvice.co.uk/peters-blog/news-a-comments/item/792-oversubscription-and-vacancies-for-reception-year-places-in-kent-primary-schools-for-september-2015.html highlights and updates the issues

  • Comment Link Wednesday, 23 April 2014 18:49 posted by April

    I am also another parent who did not get one of my 3 choices, being relatively new to the area and this being my first child i was not aware of the criteria when applying for the primary schools. None of the local Primary schools had any open days for parents to go and visit to see what the different schools were like and I have to say there was no Information given from the Nursery either or advice about applying for the primary school places. I Live in Ashford Kent and My first choice was Kingsnorth this was probably a lot optimistic now i am aware of catchment areas etc but my Daughter goes to nursery who have now been accepted there and really hoped she would not be split up from them. My second choice was Ashford Oaks has she is familiar with the school as her cousin goes there and has been to pick her up on many occasions, third choice was John Wesley academy for the same reason as the second choice. However i have been given the schools closest to me which is mixed with a secondary school!! John Wallis Academy. unfortunately it has a bad reputation and although they have moved up in the ofsted report the image the school portrays from its students terrifies me. Now i don't know what to do next, i have put my name down on waiting lists for the schools and want to appeal but i think the appeal will be dismissed on the grounds of the catchment i am stuck as to what to do next, i find it daunting and really want the best for my child. Thanks PETER: Sorry to hear about another sad case. I am afraid I have nothing to offer as you will have seen from this website article. All I can observe is that I believe John Wallis Academy is up and coming, the primary department having only recently been taken over, and I believe will be much more popular in a few years time.

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 22 April 2014 20:16 posted by Lou

    Hello I, too, am 1 of the 796 that didn't get any of our 3 preferences. My first pref was Canterbury Road primary Sittingbourne, which is 0.8 away (3rd closest). I wanted to avoid the 2 closest to me esp as one is graded 4 recently with ofsted (this is the one we were allocated!). My son has speech needs and I am currently seeking further support with this to try to get him in a school that I feel can support his needs. Also a pref was oaks community infant school(1.8 away) however I presume to be offered a place there he would need to be statemented due to his speech? Not sure if it is worth appealing any of the schools, however I am hoping for waiting lists to prove successful. Any advice? PETER: Just four Swale OFSTED Inspections since September (see Individual Schools section on website). All unsatisfactory Reports putting pressure on remaining schools as parents seek to avoid them. Last year both Canterbury Road (24 first choices oversubscribed) and Oaks (30) were very popular and are likely to be so again this year. Furthest distances for acceptance are in the Kent admission booklet. Admission to the Oaks Unit is by statement only, so I am afraid that a speech problem not at this level gives you no advantage in the main school. All I can advise is that you go on the waiting lists and hope. Sorry.

  • Comment Link Sunday, 20 April 2014 06:52 posted by Suzanne Howard

    Hi!
    We are in a pretty similar situation to Helen where we were not offered any of our 3 choices of school. We have twins and live in Tunbridge wells just over 300m away from Bishops Down. Our choices being (in order), BD, Free School and southborough. The first 2 being our closest schools within walking distance. We have been offered a place at Rusthall which we are not overly pleased with seeing as we are so close to a much better school where the twins have attended nursery for over a year. What is even more shocking about BD is the 7 siblings who also didn't get places this year due to the very poor handling of the intake situation they've had over the past 4 years. Obviously we will waitlist for the schools we want, but am still in shock at how few places are available for local resident says schools of their choice here. Thanks Suzanne PETER: The current shambles at Bishops Down, with even some siblings not getting places is a result of incompetence by all concerned, as you can read in several articles elsewhere on this website. Last year's debacle when KCC when KCC came under pressure to offer an extra an extra 30 places at the last moment in June continued the uncertainty, and you should certainly appeal on those grounds, although with limited chances of success. Keep your hat in the ring and keep the pressure up.

  • Comment Link Friday, 18 April 2014 14:52 posted by Helen

    Hi I have not been offered one of my three choices. My postcode is TN1 2LN and we applied for St James', St Barnabas and Southborough and have been given Temple Grove Academy. We will not accept the place offered. We are 0.3 from St Barnabas, 0.5 from St James' and 1.3 from Souhtborough.
    We always knew St James' was a long shot being out of catchment (only just!) but we intended to go on the waiting list and assumed we would get St Barnabas as we are so close. My daughter has attended the pre school next door for two years. I think appeal is probably pointless and we will go on all of the waiting lists. But I am writing mainly because I feel so angry about what is happening in the area with so much development and lack of provision, failing schools, sibling polices plus the added debate of Church attendance and faith schools which often leads to people who are not part of the local community being allocated school places. How can our voices be heard? Thanks for your time. PETER: So sorry to hear your situation, there appear to be big problems in TW again this year. Last year St James was heavily oversubscribed even after expanded to 90 places, but its unusual church VA criteria regularly see parents caught out. I am surprised about Southborough, which had 10 spaces going last year before KCC filled it up with children who hadn't applied there. Also problems at Claremont and Bishops Down which are both suffering because of the reduction in numbers, BD having been very badly handled by KCC. The problem with a reduction is there is an increased proportion of siblings taking up places, reducing vacancies for other children, in the case of Claremont, 45 siblings out of 60!

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