The proportion of Medway children offered one of their choices in a Medway primary school has risen slightly to 97.8%, the highest proportion for at least six years. There is just one minor reduction in one school’s Planned Admission number with a total of 3955 places available. As a result, there are 535 vacancies across the 67 schools, which is 13% of the total available.
Fewest vacancies are on the Hoo Peninsula at 8% total, down from 11% in 2018. Just three of the nine schools have vacancies. Most vacancies are in Rochester with just one school, The Pilgrim School, significantly oversubscribed.
Most popular school is once again Barnsole Primary which turned away 63 first choices, followed by Horsted Infants with 39 and Swingate 35. Barnsole and Swingate are the only two of the ten most oversubscribed schools to feature in both years. There are ten schools with 15 or more first choices turned down, spread across the Authority, and listed in the table below.
Eight schools have over a third of their places empty, down from 12 in 2017, headed this year by Elaine Primary with 70% of its places unfilled, brought down under the Williamson Trust, not exactly faring much better under its new sponsors The Inspire Partnership who have delivered at 35%, the lowest proportion of pupils reaching the Expected Standard and the second lowest Writing Progress score in Medway at KS2. Next comes Delce Academy with 67% empty places (featured in detail below) and then third year running by Allhallows Primary Academy 53% ( but improving on all measures). See below for more details on both these last two schools. Altogether 37 schools, over half of the total of 67 primary schools have vacancies in their Reception classes. 75 Medway children were offered none of their choices and have been allocated to other schools with vacancies by Medway Council, spread out across 22 schools, with 41 in Chatham and Gillingham schools.
I look more closely at each Medway area separately,below, links as follows: Chatham; Gillingham; Hoo Peninsula; Rainham; Rochester; Strood, together with the situation for Junior Schools, here.
If there are sections that need amplification, please let me know…….
You will find the equivalent article and data for 2018 here; a preliminary article here; and the parallel Kent article here.
I would encourage parents to apply to go on the waiting list for any of their preferences that have not been offered, as there will be movement over the next four months. This is your best chance of getting a school of your choice, as chances at appeal are generally very low because of Infant Class Legislation. For 2018 entry, of 63 registered Primary appeals organised by Medway Council where Infant Class Legislation applied (the overwhelming majority), just two were upheld – the comparable figures in 2018 being 66 appeals registered, one upheld.
|Horsted Infants (C)
|Hempstead Infants (G)
|Cliffe Woods (H)
|Academy of Woodlands (G)
|Hundred of Hoo (H)
|St Thomas More Catholic (C)
|New Horizon Children’s (C)
Note: The letter after the name of each school in the table above indicates the Medway area in which it is situated.
The abbreviation LAA (Local Authority Allocation) in the sections below refers to a child placed by Medway Council at a school they have not applied to, as all their own choices are full. PAN refers to the Published Admission Number of the school.
Seven schools were considerably oversubscribed with first choices for September, five of them being the same as last year, including the second and third most oversubscribed schools in Medway. Horsted Infants (Ofsted Outstanding) led the way with 39 first choices disappointed, having shot up from last year’s 14. Next came Swingate with 35; St Thomas More Catholic (having had vacancies in 2018, but now benefitting from the third highest KS2 performance in Medway last summer in terms of proportion of pupils achieving the expected standard), with 17; New Horizon (15); Walderslade (10) and All Saints CofE with seven. Oaklands Primary had 25 vacancies in 2018, too late for its Ofsted Report, which had improved to Good but published after applications were made last year. However, it has benefitted in 2019 by being oversubscribed for the first time in recent years. Highest vacancy figure at 50% empty spaces is St John’s CofE Infants, higher than last year, Next came Luton Infants with 39% empty spaces following its third consecutive Requires Improvement Ofsted, in sharp contrast to the linked Junior School which has an Outstanding Ofsted assessment, a rare Medway Council school success. Then comes Wayfield with 33%, in spite of its strong KS2 results last summer, underlined by a powerful Ofsted Good rating in May this year as an academy, replacing its failed Ofsted under Medway Council in 2016.
Barnsole Primary, with its Outstanding Ofsted, turned away 63 first choices for its 90 places, by far the highest number in Medway, and pipped as highest in Kent for the second time by the Brent Primary in Dartford. It will have been helped by three other schools with difficult histories nearby. Just two other seriously oversubscribed schools at Hempstead Infants (24), and Woodlands Academy (18).
Eight of the 14 schools have vacancies, most at Twydall with 44% of places empty, whose recent history is reported here. The two other schools with over 20% empty spaces suffer from a difficult Ofsted history, Napier Community (43%) with repeated ‘Requires Improvement’, and Saxon Way (25%), Special Measures under Medway Council control but now ‘Good’ as an academy.
This is becoming the tightest area of Medway through rising numbers, with six of the nine schools having no vacancies. Most popular is Cliffe Woods, turning away 19 first choices, with its Outstanding Ofsted and 90% of pupils achieving the Expected Standard at KS2, highest equal in Medway. It is followed by Hundred of Hoo all through Academy with 18 and Chattenden with 11. Most vacancies are at Allhallows, at the very tip of the Peninsula, furthest from the population centres, with 53% of its 30 places empty, fewer than normal for this school of just 86 pupils. Two consecutive Good Ofsted Inspections may have helped retain pupils. Next is St James CofE with 27.
Thames View is the only one of the seven schools without vacancies, turning away just five first choices. Most vacancies are at Miers Court with 45% of their 60 places empty. This is after three consecutive Good Ofsteds all before academisation with the Howard Trust, but subsequently one of the lowest KS2 performances in Medway in 2018
This school deserves a paragraph on its own. Delce Junior School was Ofsted Good before it became an academy in 2014, when it formed the CASTLE Trust. The Trust then provided support for a converter academy in West Sussex, Greenway Academy, sharing its headteacher. Greenway had converted to be a stand alone academy two years earlier in 2012 and then had two Requires Improvement Inspections, making four in a row. A Monitoring Ofsted Inspection in January 2016, praised the excellent support provided by Delce and shortly afterwards it formally joined the CASTLE Trust, being assessed as Good by Ofsted in June 2017. Unfortunately, Delce Academy was heading in the opposite direction being found to Require Improvement two months before: ‘The chair of the local governing body (who is also chair of the Castle Trust), said that too often governors trust what the headteacher (who is also the chief executive officer of the trust) tells them.(Trust Directors) have not been focused enough on the current performance of Delce Academy’.
For September 2016, the Trust had made the strange decision to extend the age range of Delce Academy down to admit infants, in direct competition with its linked schools, Delce Infants and St Peter’s Infants. Pupils at these two schools feed naturally into Delce Academy at Year Three, and are given priority in the Admissions Policy. It attracted 21 pupils for admission in September 2017 for its 30 places. In order to provide clear water between the two schools, Delce Infant School changed its name to Crest Infant School. For 2018 the infant allocation figure for Delce Academy fell to 12 and for admission in September 2019 it is down further to 10, in contrast to Crest’s 75 offers for its 90 places and St Peter’s 21 offers for 30 places. Together, there are not enough children to fill Crest and St Peter’s with some parents presumably trying to avoid the whole set up. The KS2 performance of Delce Academy is now well below average in Medway. It has a PAN of 130 for external admissions into Year Three, but only offered places to 97, including eight Local Authority Allocations, confirming the unhappiness some families have about the school.
Also strangely, the CASTLE Trust advertises on its website, a new Free School, the Bridge Specialist Academy, to offer 40 places in the 5 to 11 age range, for children with Social, Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) issues and opening in September 2019! The website also boasts (June 2019) that ‘We are incredibly proud of all the achievements of the pupils at Bridge Academy‘! I am unable to find any other references to this ‘school’. Fantasy land.
Just one of the eleven Rochester primary schools has more than two first choices turned away, the Pilgrim School with its Outstanding Ofsted before it academised in 2016 and, along with Cliffe Woods, the highest percentage of pupils reaching the Expected Level at KS2 in 2018, at 90%. Not surprisingly it was proportionally the most oversubscribed school in Medway turning away 48% of those who placed it first choice for its 30 places.
With an overall vacancy rate of 20% in Rochester, the Rochester schools with the most vacancies are: Delce (67% ); Halling (33%), which raised its PAN by 20 places to 60 in 2018, and would otherwise have filled; and St Peter’s Infants (30%), the second school linked with Delce Academy.,
The only school significantly oversubscribed is Hilltop Primary, with nine first choices turned away.
Elaine Primary, taken away from the failed Williamson Trust after its dire performance first reported here, continues to fall under its new sponsors with the lowest percentage of pupils attaining the expected level in Medway in 2018, at 35%. Not surprisingly it attracted just 15 pupils for its 50 places, making up nearly half of all the 80 vacancies in Strood.
As these 12 schools are mainly admitting pupils from linked Infant schools who have priority for admissions, there should be little of note to record. However:
In Rochester, see the Delce Academy story above. Balfour Junior Academy has turned away 20 first choices, being just half a mile from Delce and presumably attracting applications from families unhappy with Delce offers.
Horsted Junior School turned away 10 first choice offers. For most of the other schools, intake numbers matched those of the linked infant schools.