Success rates at admission appeals for Kent and Medway secondary schools have fallen significantly for 2015 for the second successive year, with chances of success at primary school appeals remaining extremely low, as can be seen from my previous article on 2014 appeals. You will find further historic data for Kent here, and for Medway here.
|Kent and Medway School Appeal Outcomes 2015|
|Appeals Held||Number||% Upheld||Number||% Upheld|
The secondary figures hide enormous differences between schools, and variations from year to year, key figures being given in the Individual School sections for Kent and Medway elsewhere om this website, as these are updated.
For grammar schools, numbers range from Chatham and Clarendon Grammar (Ramsgate) with 146 appeals (up from 102 last year) of which 33 were upheld, through to Cranbrook School, one appeal (6 last year) which was not upheld. For non-selective schools, highest were St George’s CofE in Broadstairs with 68 appeals (13 successful), and Brompton Academy in Medway with 58 appeals (7 successful), through to three schools with no successful appeals.
For Infant Schools where Infant Class Legislation applies (see below), there were 355 appeals heard across Kent and Medway by Local Authority Panels, with just 3 successful.
You will find further information and advice on school appeals here, with more data and explanation of the 2015 figures below…..
I regret to inform browsers and other enquirers that I am retiring from my appeals consultancy with effect from the end of this term. Whilst I have enjoyed a gratifying level of success, I have found the past year especially hard work, accompanied by personal health difficulties. Just two clients were unsuccessful in appealing for a school of their choice this summer, and over the past eleven years I have prepared more than 800 appeals, with a success rate of over 95% and learned a great deal about schools and the admissions and appeals process on the way. With regard to the success rate, to be fair I have only taken on clients where I have seen a chance of winning, and so have disappointed many enquirers where I have felt unable to deliver.
I fully intend to keep my other educational activities going, including this website offering information, advice, news and comment, together with my campaigns and telephone consultancy, with the latter also likely to provide limited support for appeals but constrained by time available.
The Telephone Consultancy service has mushroomed, although as a result I find I am having to be more selective in the areas of advice offered, focusing mainly on school admissions, again because of time constraints. A big area of my work now caters for advising expatriates coming to Kent, with several new clients every week.
As many of you will have noted, my website is not up to date in several areas, a situation I plan to rectify over coming months. In particular I have to remove references to my appeals consultancy. In the past year, it has proved more popular than ever, and attracted 193,432 certified visits from 116,376 users, 57% of which were new visitors.
A subsequent article will explain that I am expanding the website to offer advertising for those offering educational services, and I am now happy to receive enquiries about this service. The first advertiser, the tutoring company Bright Young Things, has seen 156 visitors to its webpage in the first two days it has been up.
The past year…
This article is being updated as fresh information is received. You will find the parallel article on Medway here.
Good news for 13,092 Kent families who have been allocated to their first preference secondary school, at 83.6 %, a slight dip on 2013, but otherwise higher than any other recent year, with, for example, the 2008 figure being just 70.5%. You will find previous outcomes here. Coupled with this is an overall fall in the number of children allocated places by Kent County Council over the same period. These are children who were offered none of their four choices of school. In 2008 there were 840 such children, but by 2014 this has fallen to just 404. Of course this is no consolation to the parents of those 404 children, but over the next few months, through waiting lists, re-allocation and school appeals I am sure the majority of those children who are still seeking an alternative school will find one.
You will find considerable free advice about appealing elsewhere on this website, together with details about my services.
The full set of data released by KCC, together with some older statistics I have retained is as follows: ........
I now have appeal outcomes for nearly every secondary school in Kent that held appeals in the past school year.
I don't proposed to publish individual outcomes as these can be very misleading and some change dramatically year on year; so are not a good guide to future appeal results. In any case, a successful appeal depends not only on the strength of the parental case, the defence put up by the school against admitting additional children, and the pressure on places, but also the way the appeal panel operates.
The majority of appeals held in Kent are heard by Independent Appeal Panels organised by Kent County Council who provide panels for community, foundation, voluntary aided schools, and academies. However 14 Kent non-selective schools, 15 grammar schools and all Medway secondary schools use appeal panels provided by other organisations or, in a very few cases, organised by themselves.
The following tables show the outcomes of independent appeals for these groups of schools, although there is a wide range of outcomes for individual schools, varying year on year.
|Kent & Medway School Secondary School Appeal Outcomes 2013|
|Kent County Council Appeal Panels|
|Type of School||
appeals of those
|Kent and Medway Appeals managed by other organisations|
Several non-selective schools set up appeals included in the above, but ended up offering places to all appellants, either because the schools expanded numbers or other children offered places dropped out probably after successful grammar school appeals. This movement creates what I call the churning effect as parents trade upwards, which has seen more movement this year than most. These schools included (but don't assume this will also happen for 2014 entry): Brockhill Park; Canterbury High; King Ethelbert; Rainham School for Girls; St Simon Stock; and Westlands and Wrotham.
At the other end of the scale,........
To be updated after 4 p.m. Friday
For 2013 entry, a record 84.2% of Kent children have been offered their first choice of secondary school on allocation, although this still leaves 2390 disappointed to a greater or lesser degree. However, I estimate well over half of these will be offered a higher choice of school through what I call the ’churning’ process. Churning happens as places are freed up by successful appeals elsewhere and children being offered places off waiting lists. Each successful move creates a further space at another school, and so the process trickles down over the summer months, with the least popular schools losing students without replacement.
So what should you do if you are not offered the school of your choice? First piece of advice is - don’t panic and don’t do something you might regret later. There is no advantage in getting your appeal in first so resist the temptation to dash off a letter to the school of your choice which may hinder what you want to say later.........
Every now and then I have a media storm, but never one like the last two days (a little licence in the title). It began on Wednesday morning when I was invited to comment on Radio Kent about claims by the headteacher of Bromstone Primary School in Thanet that some headteachers were going out of their way to discourage children with a poor reputation and some with Special Education Needs from applying to their schools. Although I often disagree with him, he is absolutely right in this case. I have talked with parents of children with SEN who have visited schools and been told they can't cope and to go the school up the road "which is good for such children". A good way of keeping the SEN budget down! At primary level the HT talked of primary schools that identified difficult children through the nursery and set out to put them off. Again, I have come across parents reporting such experiences. Unprofessional schools, but looking out for one's league table and OFSTED performance, together with a more easily earned reputation for good discipline . Next, ...
The pass mark for the Kent 11 plus Test is the same as last year. Children must have achieved a total score of 360, with a minimum of 119 in each paper or found to have been selective on the Headteacher Assessment. The pass is set to allow 21% of children attending Kent primary schools through, although the pass standard is the same for all other children as well. Approximately another 4% are found selective through the Headteacher Assessment process, explained here, about half way down the page. If your child is found successful at the HTA they are classified as selective and will be treated equally with any other child at grammar schools which ask for a pass as the academic standard (i.e. except for the super-selectives). If parents wish to know the scores on individual papers, they will need to contact their primary school.
I now have the data for appeals for those primary and secondary schools in Kent, whose appeals were heard by an Independent Appeal Panel organised by KCC. In previous years I have had the data for all schools at this time, but figures for the 26 secondary schools who organise their own appeals will not be available until later in the year. I do not publish school by school data here, as it varies so much year on year, depending on the pressure on places, the decision of the admission authority (in most cases the school) as to how hard to resist the appeal and the make up of the panels. However, I do identify below where there are particular trends.
2011 Secondary Appeal Numbers
|Appeals Heard||Appeals Upheld||% Upheld|
|Foundation & Voluntary Aided Grammar Schools||542||186||34|
|Community Grammar Schools||237||101||42|
|Totla Grammar Schools||779||287||36|
|Non Selective Schools||186||129||69|
Amongst the less publicised voluntary roles in the county is that of the Independent Appeal panellist. The overwhelming number of appeals are for school admissions with some being for school exclusions. Last year KCC organised 2672 admission appeal hearings for all types of school with one, Wilmington Grammar School for Boys, attracting 100 appeals all heard by the same Panel of three volunteers. Many other admission appeals were heard by Panels organised by individual schools or independent organisations who specialise in this service.
So who is an appeal panellist? For admissions, at least one of the three has to have experience in education which can be as a current parent of a child at school, or having knowledge of educational conditions in the area but is often represented by a retired teacher. Again, at least one is a lay member, without personal experience in the management or provision of education in a school (although governors are permissible!). In all cases, panel members must not have a connection with the school in question which might raise doubts about their impartiality.
All panellists must be trained every two years on the regulations and procedures relating to appeals that typically takes a day. Some training equips panellists to hear appeals for all types of school, other approaches focus on particular types of school, of which there are many in Kent!
I appear before some panels and have reports back on many other hearings. From my experience I consider that the vast majority of panellists are carrying out what can be a very difficult role judging between the needs of the school and those of the child. However, those panellists I talk to generally find this a satisfying role except where they anguish over difficult decisions for, however strong the case, there are occasions when there simply isn’t room for a school to take in another child.
Many parents emerge from an appeal and even if they lose are content that they have had a fair hearing. That is the measure of success for a panellist who has given up his or her time to ensure the system can operate, for without volunteers there would be no appeals. If you are interested in volunteering, I am sure KCC would be very happy to hear from you, telephone 01622 694358.
However to all panellists who may feel your work is not appreciated it is, and thank you on behalf of parents throughout the county.
Updated August 2014
Please note: I am unable to advise on which routes are cheapest, or the best option to take. You should contact the Council school transport department or the bus company for this information.
"Statutory Guidance" for for free school transport on distance grounds is laid down by government, but varies in interpretation between Kent and Medway on the issue of grammar and faith schools (see below). The document also provides considerable information and guidance on other school transport issues, often used by parents in admission appeals. Other subsidies provided for transport for young people are discretionary by Local Authority and vary widely from none in many LAs to free transport in the London Boroughs. Both Kent and Medway, which operate different schemes, are more generous than the norm. The arrangements for Kent have recently changed the latest scheme being outlined below. You will find details of the Medway scheme here.
Although there is a total layout of £250 per year for the full package, young people can now purchase all the benefits of the previous scheme, explained here, albeit at an increased fee from the previous £100 for the Freedom Pass. The price is halved for children on free school meals and there is no cost for those in care, who have been in care, or young carers, as explained here. To date, I have no further information on the extension scheme, but will update this as I receive it.
A few services on specific school runs carry an additional charge as explained here. In summary, those are a few services to Hugh Christie Technology School, a few from Appledore to Ashford schools, and a few from Ashford and Shadoxhurst to Homewood School.
This is not an entitlement, and students will need to check with their school, college or work based learning provider to confirm if they will pay the cost. This is £400 per annum, is applicable with most bus operators and there are reductions in costs depending on parental income, details here. The pass allows students to travel free at all times on applicable services, but applications must be made by 31st May before the start of the relevant school year.
This system remains in place for children under 8 years old who live more than 2 miles from the school using the shortest available walking route, or over 8 years old who live more than 3 miles from the school using the shortest available walking route. A walking route can include public footpaths and is a route that a child, accompanied as necessary, can walk to and from school with reasonable safety to school. You will find full details here. There is a slight easing of the rules for low income families.
The term “nearest school” does not differentiate between grammar and non-selective schools and takes free schools into account, which has recently altered some children’s entitlement who live nearest to one of the new free schools in rural areas such as near Hadlow or Wye. For children who have been awarded places at a grammar school, if there is a non-selective school nearer then they do not qualify.
If you applied for the nearest school and it is full, the concession applies to the next nearest school, and so on.
Distance rules have been in place for many years, and I can still remember the sense of unfairness felt by my family more than half a century ago, as I lived 20 yards short of the three miles to Ashford Grammar School so did not receive a pass, but caught the bus at the same stop as others who qualified. I continue to have enquiries about appeals from parents in similar situations!
This scheme entitles all young people who live in Medway and hold a valid pass to pay half the adult fare at all times when travelling on any local bus service, up to the end of the academic year after their 18th birthday. The journeys must start in Medway and can be to any destination in Medway or Kent, as long as any changes of bus are in Medway. This pass is not valid on the subsidised 'MY' yellow buses run by Medway Council or companies who already offer a child fare.
The Council operates a similar Free School Transport scheme to Kent except that in Medway, if the child has qualified for grammar school or been offered a place at a faith school on faith grounds they are entitled to free transport if it is to their nearest appropriate school and they live more than three miles away (or two for under eights). In practice, only those applying to a faith primary school or St John Fisher Catholic School and selective children living on the Hoo Peninsula generally qualify.
There is an issue in that for most of the Hoo children the nearest grammar schools are Sir Joseph Williamson’s for boys and Fort Pitt for girls, and a proportion of children get offered the Chatham grammars either directly or after appeal.
In such cases Medway Council usually turns them down for free transport, unless they have applied to the nearer grammar schools, including Rochester Grammar for girls, and gone to appeal, however pointless. My advice therefore is to pursue applications at these other schools, so that when rejected you can show the Council that the relevant Chatham grammar is the nearest grammar school you can access. You may well need to go to appeal to do this. Medway parents living on the Hoo Peninsula have had considerable success with appeals for transport to Medway Grammar Schools (not necessarily the nearest) and if relevant to you, don't be put off. I am happy to support parents for such appeals.
Free School Transport Appeals
In both Kent & Medway, appeals against transport decisions are initially to a Panel of Councillors, and there are successes each year, often on grounds of wrong measurements. Medway appears more flexible than Kent for 'exceptional circumstances', especially with regard to grammar school appeals.
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