a further increase of 227 in the number of Kent pupils needed to be found places in our schools, with Medway increasing by 111 having come out of a sharp fall up to 2013; ; the increasing polarisation of choices, as families chase the more popular and successful schools, at the expense of some non-selective schools that are seeing numbers shrink as families seek to avoid them; an alarming surge in out of county applicants being offered places in Kent secondary schools, rising by 155 to 757; and the removal of 300 places in Kent following the closure of the Chaucer Technology College in Canterbury and the recently announced closure of Oasis Hextable Academy.
Overall, 81% of both Kent and Medway children were awarded their first choice school, down on 2014. 296 fewer Kent pupils were awarded their first preference this year than in 2014, whereas in Medway it increased by 76, although at a slower rate than the overall increase in numbers. These falls in proportion of first choices awarded probably accounted for by the above factors.
Nationally, there is concern about the number of school places being created, and in Kent we should certainly have seen at least a further 250 places (equivalent to one large new school) being provided this year and every year to keep pace with the increase in the school population. Some schools have expanded to meet demand, but this appears to be happening mainly in the grammar school sector, with Queen Elizabeth's in Faversham being the first to break the glass ceiling and add a form of entry in the face of assertions that grammars could not legally be expanded. It has now been followed by Dartford, Dartford Girls, Judd, Sir Roger Manwood’s, Skinners, and Wilmington Boys, and the possibility of the Sevenoaks Annexe. An alternative is to see the mantra "every school should be a good school" turned into reality, for some of those 641 children allocated places by KCC will have the nightmare of being offered schools that are unacceptable to them for quite understandable reasons. In total, there are around a thousand empty spaces across Kent's secondary schools. Other families will now look more closely at schools they have not or would not initially consider and find they are not so bad after all.
This year, the schools with the highest number of first choices, over and above the capacity of the school: are Dartford Grammar (179); St George's, Broadstairs (129); Valley Park, Maidstone (118); Dartford Girls (106); Skinners, Tunbridge Wells (100); Fulston Manor, Sittingbourne (95); and King Ethelbert, Birchington (80).
So what next? If you are not awarded the school of your choice, then certainly go on the waiting list for every school you have applied for and wish to consider. You have the right to appeal to any and every school for which you have been turned down although these figures suggest that appeal numbers will rise, whereas the number of successes will not. Grammar school appeals will rise sharply in numbers as the new Kent Test has produced outcomes with a much larger proportion of children appearing to have missed the pass mark narrowly, although there are unlikely to be more successes because of pressure on space. You also have the option of making a late application for a fresh school after April 24th. You can apply for as many schools as you wish through this process. Every year we see a considerable ‘churning’ effect as children take up places off the waiting lists, as children win appeals at higher preferences, and some unhappy families remove themselves from the state system, so don't lose hope.
|Kent Secondary School Allocations: March 2015|
|Offered a first preference||12,796||80.5%||13,092||83.6||12,754||84.2%||12,613||82.8%|
|Offered a second preference||1,612||10.1%||1,512||9.6%||1,456||9.6%||1,481||9.7%|
|Offered a third preference||478||3.1%||478||3.1%||448||3.0%||505||3.3%|
|Offered a fourth preference||181||1.1%||181||1.2%||129||0.9%||183||1.2%|
|Allocated by Local Authority||641||4.03%||404||2.6%||357||2.3%||443||2.9%|
|Total number of Kent pupils offered||15894||15,667||15144||15,225|
Medway’s position is tighter than Kent with regard to empty spaces, with just 192 being vacant in spite of 100 additional spaces being added into schools.
The increase of 111 in the number of Medway children offered places confirms the sharp decline in numbers to 2013 is well and truly over.
However, the proportion of first preferences met continues its steady decline every year since 2012. Last year Brompton Academy was the most oversubscribed school in Kent and Medway, but this year it accounted for 159 of the 614 rejected first preferences, in spite of adding on an additional class of 30 children and it is apparent that the polarisation of choices, as described above, is playing a considerable role here, as families try and avoid the most unpopular schools.
|Medway Secondary School Allocations March 2015|
|Offered a first preference||2499||80.7%||2423||81.2%||2425||86.0%||86.7%|
|Offered a place at one of their six choices||2940||95%||2865||96.0%||2730||96.8%||98.6%|
|Allocated a place by Medway Council||155||5.0%||120||4.0%||90||3.2%||1.4%|
Total number of Medway
children offered places