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Sunday, 17 April 2016 17:42

Kent and Medway Primary Allocations 2016

Kent County Council will rightly celebrate the primary school allocation figures below, sent out today. For even with an additional 591 Kent children in the system above 2015’s figure, the number of children being offered their first choice school has leapt up by 762 to 87.2% of the total number of applications , a record over at least the past six years. In addition, whilst the number of children offered no school of their choice fell to 606, down by 118, also down for the second consecutive year, to 3.4%, again the lowest figure for at least six years.

Medway Council (Serving You) as usual has sent out an opaque press release on allocation and I have had to best guess the figures in the table below. Although the number of Medway resident applications has increased by just 10 children to 3533, the percentage being offered one of their choices has fallen from 96.4% to less than 96% (historically this suggests 95.75% or lower), whilst the percentage of first choices has remained around the same at around 87.1%, with a slight increase in numbers also around 10 children. However, approximately 150 children with none of their six choices looks to be the highest for many years.

I will publish further details on oversubscription and vacancies at Reception Level and at Junior schools when I receive them in the next few weeks, but you can see a flavour of the situation from my 2015 article on Kent oversubscription and vacancies here, and for Medway here.

The continuation below begins with some advice on next steps if you have not received the school of your choice....

 Not offered the school of your choice?
You have the right to go on the waiting list for, and appeal for any school on your application form, where you have not been offered a place. You also have the right to make a late application in Kent directly to any school that was not on your original list, on or after 17th June, when the first reallocation of vacant places takes place to children already on the waiting list. KCC will tell you which local schools still have vacancies on the day you enquire. The situation in Medway appears to be at the discretion of Education Officers. and varies from year to year.

A large number of children are offered places off waiting lists, each setting off a ‘churning process’ freeing up other places. You have nothing to lose from going on the waiting list for as many schools as you wish. Sadly, chances of success at appeal are negligible in nearly all cases, as explained below.

Kent
The biggest expansion in Kent primary school places for many years came in 2015 when seven new schools were brought on stream, as explained in my 2015 article. Another 422 temporary places were created by expanding existing schools.

I don’t yet know the details of any temporary enlargements of schools to cater for pressure points in 2016, and there is just one new ‘school’, with the extension of St George’s CofE Foundation School in Broadstairs to take in a primary intake from September (See below). Four other schools are being provided with premises for permanent enlargement: Hextable Primary (Admission Number up from 60 to 90 children); Hoath Primary, Canterbury (up from 9 to 15); Seal Primary (up from 30 to 60), although the school has already had a temporary number of sixty for several years, soaking up the surplus from Sevenoaks; and  Singlewell Primary, Gravesham (up from 30 to 60), the Kent primary with the smallest ‘catchment’ in the county at 322 yards. A permanent expansion includes permanent buildings and will take 7 years to work through.

Unfortunately, I can see little there at present to ease the pressure on those Kent urban areas with most problems last year. As I wrote then: “There appears to be a crisis in provision of primary school places in a number of Kent towns, with Dartford, Folkestone, and Sevenoaks each with NO vacancies in any school on primary school Reception age allocation last month. Ashford, Gravesend/Northfleet, Maidstone, and Tunbridge Wells have 2% vacancies, with Broadstairs/Ramsgate 3%. In addition, rural Sevenoaks also has just 2% vacancies”. 

Kent Primary Schools: allocation of Kent children to Reception Classes April 2016
Offers to Kent Pupils 2016 2015 2014 2013
  No of pupils % No of pupils %  No of pupils % No of pupils %

 Offered a school on the application form

17400

96.6%

16691

95.8%

16301

95.3%

15,838 96.0%

Offered a first preference

15705

87.2% 14943

85.8%

14516

84.9%

14,264 86.5%
Offered a second preference 1229 6.8% 1272 7.3% 1239 7.3% 1,127 6.8%
Offered a third preference 466 2.58% 476 2.7% 546 3.2% 447 2.7%
Allocated by local authority 606 3.4% 724 4.2% 796 4.7% 661 4.0%
Total number of offers 18006 17415 17097 16,499
 
St George’s CofE Foundation School, Broadstairs
The school, the most oversubscribed non-selective in Kent, is expanding to become an all through school, admitting 60 Reception children and 30 in each of Years 1 and 2, an initiative that will prove highly popular with families. For not only is this a good alternative in one of the most pressured Districts in Kent, as parents struggle to avoid the TKAT Multi-Academy Trust schools, but because its admission arrangements will make it become a very middle class school and, perhaps most importantly for many, it carries with it a guaranteed place at the secondary section of the school. This is achieved through the school’s oversubscription criteria. After the common criteria of children in care, siblings and children of staff (now likely to be a significant proportion of the total taking primary and secondary sections into account), comes child and then parental attendance at church or local church group. In the secondary section, with a Planned Admission Number of 217, it is worth the child joining a church youth club to be selected under the next criterion, but I cannot see this happening in the Primary phase. I also have to say that as with two other church schools I have challenged, I consider the admission criteria too loosely phrased to be objective as the rules require. I believe there are just two long established Church of England primary schools with admission criteria as tightly geared to church attendance for all pupils outside the priority groups, and the Church of England has been making loud noises about a wider Christian mission, so that other new schools are arranging for at least 50% of intake to be on grounds other than church membership. This can therefore be considered a retrograde step.
 
Medway
The problem with the Medway information is its lack of precision with, in a previous year, an “almost 86%” turning out to be 85.2%! The only data offered in today’s press release is as follows: Almost 96 per cent of Medway children will be starting their school life at one of their preferred primary schools this September. The latest school admissions figures reveal that just over 87 per cent of children have secured a place at their first preference school, almost 7 per cent at their second preference, and just over 1.5 per cent at their third…. involves the council processing applications for 3,533 Medway resident pupils…. The numbers of applications continue to grow year on year with nearly 700 more received this year compared with those in 2010”. I must admit I can’t quite see the relevance of a comparison with six years ago, although as this is a cut and paste job over previous years for efficiency, it is presumably right to keep the baseline year! 

I am not aware at this stage of any changes in provision in Medway, although with an increase of just 10 children over 2015, the Council may not consider there is a need at present.   

The table that follows has been updated with the full figures received in June, along with updates on the commentary above. 

Medway Primary Schools: allocation of Medway children and 121 from ooc to Reception classes April 2016
Offers made by Medway Primary schools 2016 2015 2014 2013
  No of pupils % No of pupils %   No of pupils %        No of pupils %

 Offered a school named on the appln form

3360 96.2%

3396

96.4%

 3171 95.5% 3058 96.0%

Offered a first preference

3039 87.1%

3067

87.1%

 2847 85.7% 2803 88.0%
Offered a second preference 220 6.3% 256 7.3% 231 7.0% 189 5.9%
Offered a third preference 61 1.8% 55 1.5%  78 2.4% 48 1.5%
Offered a fourth preference* 27 0.8% 20 0.6%  15  0.5% 18 0.6%
Medway children allocated by Council 134 4.0% 126 3.6%   151 4.6% 129 4.1%
Total number of offers 3490 3522 3322 3187
 

*This also includes a small number of 5th and 6th preferences. 

Primary School Appeals
Most Reception Class Appeals are governed by what is called Infant Class Legislation. Quite simply, you will not win an Infant Class Appeal if there are classes of 30 children in the Infant section, unless you have one of a few rare exceptional circumstances. Schools with intakes of, for example, 15, 20 or 45 children will run mixed age classes of 30, so fit the legislation. A few schools have an intake with a different number, for example I notice one exceptional Medway primary school admitting up to 55 children each year when Infant Class Legislation does not apply. With Infant Class Legislation in place, there were just two successful Reception Appeals in Kent out of 492 submitted, and one in Medway out of 106.
Kent and Medway Primary School Appeals 2016
School
Appeals
Submitted
Appeals
Heard
Upheld
Not
Upheld
Place
Offered
Withdrawn
Kent Reception
Infant Legislation
426 292 2 290 103 31
Kent Reception
other
25 24 14 10 0 1
Kent Junior 23 11 8 3 8 4
Medway Reception 106 63 1 62 20 23
Medway Junior 10 6 3 3 4 0

 This table is for appeal Panels organised by KCC. A small number of primary appeals are managed by other organisations. Commentary here. You will find further information here.

Last modified on Saturday, 10 December 2016 05:46

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