most of the inevitable problems are about individual schools, not districts. I know this statement will not be popular with the parents who have no school of their choice or who have seen their local school expand too far, and in some cases in spite of campaigns to prevent the expansion, including Pembury and Stone St Mary’s in Greenhithe. However, KCC is desperately trying to recover lost ground from previous planning failures and, although it still has an eminently sensible policy to avoid expanding primary (not infant or junior) schools to more than 60 places unless there are exceptional circumstances, I can see no obvious alternative.
I propose to prepare a brief summary on key districts in the Individual Primary Schools section of this website, which groups them according to these districts. These will be listed here and placed over the next few weeks. You will find last year's key areas explored in this section. The general picture is outlined in a previous article, below. This shows both an increase in the proportion of children being offered their first choice school, and a reduction to 661 in the number being offered no school of their choice in spite of an increase of 250 children. Sadly, this is no comfort to the families of those 661.
Six of last year's most popular schools have dropped out of the top ten, often as a result of additional places being provided. The most dramatic change from 2012 is in Sevenoaks town where an additional 40 places have been put in since September. 30 of these have been put in into each of Sevenoaks Primary & Lady Boswells, partly balanced by the temporary addition of 20 at St John’s last year being removed. As a result, both Riverhead Infants (top last year) & Sevenoaks (fourth) have completely vanished from the list of most oversubscribed schools.
Slade Primary in Tonbridge, 2nd with 52 disappointed first choices, and Priory Infants in Ramsgate, 3rd with 46 turned away, have both moved up the top ten, but the most oversubscribed primary school in Kent this year is:
St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School in Northfleet, which rejected 61 first choices, arriving in the top ten for the first time.
Sandgate primary in Folkestone, fourth, is always popular. Next in order are: Claremont Primary in Tunbridge Wells, which actually reduced its roll by 30 in an area very short of places; Joyden’s Wood Infants, Dartford; Ryarsh Primary in Malling; Herne CofE Infants, Herne Bay; Palm Bay Primary in Margate; and Charlton CofE Primary in Dover. Six of these ten have Outstanding OFSTED Reports and it is notable that each comes from a different part of Kent.
Other schools oversubscribed by 24 or more first choices are: Madginford Park Infants and Thurnham CofE Infants Schools, Bearsted, Maidstone (the eye of the storm for 2012 admissions, along with St John’s CofE Primary which has absorbed most of its applicants this year, thanks to its expansion by 30 places. However, I understand some children from Bearsted have still not secured a place in one of these three schools); from Tunbridge Wells, last year’s most problematic district – Bishops Down Primary (controversially reduced by 30 places) and St James CofE Voluntary Aided Infants (in spite of an increase of 20 places); The Oaks Infants and Canterbury Road Primary Schools, Sittingbourne; St Crispin’s Community Infants, Westgate-on- Sea; Holy Trinity & St John's CofE Primary School, Margate; West Hill Primary, Dartford; Swalecliffe Community Primary, Whitstable; St Eanswythe's CofE Primary, Folkestone; and St Peter's Methodist Voluntary Controlled Primary, Canterbury.
At the other end of the scale is St Philip Howard Catholic School, Herne Bay, which is proposed for closure in the summer, and only attracted five children. Another 12 schools are at least half empty, including Whitehill Primary, Gravesend which, with 49 unfilled spaces has the most vacancies of any primary school in Kent, even after 7 children have been allocated to the school by KCC. One wonders why the school has been expanded by 30 places to a total of 90.