I wrote an article on this subject for the Gravesend Reporter in September, and another one in Kent On Sunday, with Radio Kent picking up the information and running it as a main story.
In summary, Kent has seen a dramatic fall in the number of vacant primary school places in the past six years from 3299 in the Reception Year in 2005-6, to an estimated 108 across the whole county next September.
KCC recommends a vacancy rate of from 5-7%, but these figures represent a surplus of just 0.7%. A part of the drop in vacant spaces was caused by the removal of 1312 places in areas such as Dover where there are empty classrooms, but there are worrying problems ahead for next September. Four districts are forecast to have a shortage of places overall: Gravesham 11% (!); Tunbridge Wells and Dartford 8%, and Thanet 0.1 %. Two other areas that cause concern are Tonbridge which has fallen from a surplus of 19% to a minute one of 2.5%, and Sevenoaks falling from 12% surplus to 5%. The three West Kent numbers are of particular significance as they indicate a considerable shortage of secondary school places in the area in a few years time, which will put additional pressure on all the six already oversubscribed grammar schools, for local children. For September just past, KCC put an additional 55 temporary places into TW primary schools, but this left just 3 spaces vacant in a single school at allocation day in March. Some children may subsequently have taken up places in Independent schools, but others will have moved in, so the crisis is real and getting worse.