This article looks at the key oversubscription and vacancy situation in Medway non-selective schools, following secondary allocations at the beginning of March.
The headline figure for all secondary allocations shows a seriously worsening picture, with a fall of over 5% in the proportion of Medway children being offered their first choice of school, and a near doubling of the number getting none of their choices from 77 to 145 children. According to Cabinet Member Martin Potter in a press release, “This is great news”! See my previous article for initial figures.
There were just 14 additional places created above the final intakes for 2016, all at Strood and Thomas Aveling Academies. However, with a hundred extra children accommodated in Medway’s non-selective schools, this produced a doubling of children being offered none of their choices, instead becoming Local Authority Allocated Children (LAAC) at schools with vacancies.
Most popular non-selective school is once again Brompton Academy, disappointing 177 first choices, well up on 2016’s figure of 108.
Five of the eleven non-selective schools had vacancies, most at Victory Academy with 30% empty spaces, in spite of having 30 children allocated who were given no school of their choice.
After allocation, there were 140* empty spaces in all, a just manageable 5.6% of the total thanks to a net outflow of 60 children. However, more vacancies will be created through successful grammar school appeals and considerable churning will follow as the more popular schools refill.
There is now a sharp polarisation of popularity in Medway, with families clamouring for places in the three most popular schools, the three at the other end accepting 106 LAACs between them.
* Technically there were 170 free spaces, but for some reason, Hundred of Hoo Academy, which did not fill, added 30 places onto its declared PAN (Planned Admission Number) and then did not use any of them. I have ignored these places in the statistics, hence the 140 places free quoted.
You will find further information on Individual Medway Secondary Schools here, currently being updated. My preliminary article on allocations published at the beginning of March here includes cut-offs for super-selective grammars, one for Medway secondary schools in 2016 here and also similar articles for Kent selective and non-selective schools.
Altogether there were four schools oversubscribed with first choices, led by Brompton Academy. If children do not get in off the waiting list, chances at appeal are likely to be very small, with just four upheld out of 66 in 2016, seven in 2015.
Thomas Aveling has also proved more popular this year, the 58 first choices rejected up from 33 in 2015. Families have a low pattern of success at appeal, with six appeals being upheld out of 22 in 2016, seven out of 47 in 2015.
Both The Howard School (31 first choices turned away) and Strood Academy (15) have increased in popularity this year, whilst Rainham School for Girls slipped back, but still being full, with all its first choices accommodated. Chances at appeal for Howard last year were strong, with all appellants at Strood and Rainham being successful or offered places from the waiting list.
The Victory Academy continues to have greatest difficulty in attracting students, with just 138 pupils offered places for its PAN of 240 who had applied for the school. There were another 30 LAACs, giving a total of 168 children offered places on 1st March. However, it did attract 113 1st choices, higher than the other two below.
Whilst St John Fisher Catholic School, the only secondary non-academy in Medway, had just 26 vacancies out of its 180 places, it received a massive 51 LAACs. A few years ago, a parent who was also allocated the school, successfully argued that the Council was acting inappropriately, as the families of entrants had to make certain commitments related to Catholicism. The school had just 67 first choices, by some way the lowest in Medway, perhaps reflecting its position as the lowest performing school in Medway at GCSE last summer, in both Progress 8 and Attainment 8.
The Robert Napier School managed to fill all its places, although with 25 LAACs.
Proposed New School
The Leigh Academy Trust, which currently runs Strood Academy, has proposed opening a new secondary school in Medway for September 2019, either in Strood or Rainham. I am guessing these two areas as being on the outskirts of the Medway towns. The Trust sees it as a small school with an intake of 120, although including a grammar stream (some other schools call this a top set).
Out of County
48 children have been offered places in Medway non-selective schools, all but three from Kent. 108 have travelled the other way, all but 6 to Kent.
The main movement is up and down Bluebell Hill, with 49 children offered places at Aylesford School and Holmesdale Technology College in Snodland. Travelling the other way 19 children are going to Greenacre Academy and Walderslade Girls’ School. The choice of Kent schools is somewhat surprising as these are two of the lowest performing schools in the County in terms of progress, whereas Greenacre and Walderslade are much better especially in attainment.
25 presumably Catholic children are travelling to St Simon Stock in Maidstone, and St John’s in Gravesham, most of the others also to Gravesham schools.
If it weren’t for the 60 net flow outwards, Medway non-selective schools would also be under considerably greater pressure.