There is no doubt the major reason for the increase in satisfied first choices is the additional places put in this year by a number of oversubscribed schools, Highworth Grammar (4 places), Invicta Grammar (17), Maidstone Grammar School for Girls (5), Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School (3). Skinners Kent Academy (30), Valley Park (30) and Weald of Kent Grammar (30) all used new freedoms to expand using the conventional consultation process. I have commneted on the likely effect of these in the Individual Schools Section of this website. Since Christmas several others have worked with KCC to head off last year's problems, some possibly for one year only but we shall see. The schools involved include: Bennett Memorial, Judd, Skinners and Tonbridge Grammar (also Rainham Mark Grammar School in Medway). I know there are also others, and will add to this list as I learn them. One serious consequence for some other schools is that much of this inevitably increases the vacancy rate at some of the less popular neighbouring schools, as parental choice drives schools' fortunes.
Areas to watch include West Kent, where I see most of last year's problems for boys' grammar school places melting away, with the 60 extra places having been created. The Judd School cut off score is 417 (not all on this score have been offered places), Skinners is 411 (not all on this score have been offered places). I have feedback from parents many miles away who have been offered places and haven't yet heard of someone turned down on distance grounds.
There will be a grammar school place for all qualified local girls, even if it is not the school of their first choice. Weald has gone a long way out in all directions and I have not yet heard of someone being turned down on distance grounds. The cut off for local or Inner Girls at Tonbridge Grammar has fallen to 408 (with one 407 also being offered a place). For outers it remains high at 415. We won't know the situation at the Trinity School in Sevenoaks (previously the Christian Free School) for some time as they are not included in the above figures, but I have written about this elsewhere.
Somewhat to my surprise, the extension in the high score range of marks with more high scorers than ever before (see below) has been more than balanced out by the additional places offered at the super-selectives and so most cut off marks have fallen.
It also sounds as if the North West Kent grammar situation has eased for Kent children, although pressures from South East London boys seeking grammar school places will remain high. I have doubts that the higher bar at Simon Langton Boys will make a great difference, although it may have created difficulties in the usual hot spot of Whitstable/Herne Bay. Non-selective hot spots are more difficult to predict, but we know there is an issue with non-selective places in Sittingbourne which has two of the most oversubscribed schools in Kent at Fulston Manor and Westlands.
The number of grammar assessed children who only applied for grammar schools, but were not offered one is greatly reduced this year, unsurprisingly given the additional places added into the system. The total wanting a grammar school place, but being offered a non-selective place instead, is down to 35 across Kent, a massive fall. Although this may be doubly painful for those 35 families, the overall picture should generate optimism that they will be offered a grammar school place somewhere fairly locally, in the "churn" (see item below).
I have applied for figures for individual schools and will publish the highlights of these in a new article when I receive them. Otherwise, I would be grateful to receive any information about individual school allocations to enable me to keep this article as up to date as possible.
As in previous years, it is likely that over a quarter of the out of county offers will be Medway children, nearly all bound for non-selective schools.