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North Kent primary schools ‘still under pressure’

PUBLISHED: 11:56 16 May 2016 | UPDATED: 11:56 16 May 2016

Primary School Children Chasing Each Other in a School Playground

Primary School Children Chasing Each Other in a School Playground

(c) Digital Vision.

Education advisor Peter Read analyses the latest data on school places

This year’s increase of 591 in the number of children offered places in Kent primary school reception classes has been met with a similar increase in the number of school places available, and the welcome news that the proportion of children gaining a school of their choice has also increased, to a record in recent years of 96.7 per cent.

Overall, there are six per cent empty places, the same as last year, but these figures hide a growing number of local pressures focused on the towns.

The biggest problems this year are in Sevenoaks and Tonbridge where there are no empty spaces at all, Maidstone, one space, Gravesham, three, and Tunbridge Wells seven; each in just one

school.

The ten most popular schools this year are: Fleetdown Primary, Dartford, and Loose Primary, Maidstone both turning away 53 first choices; Great Chart, Ashford, 41; Holy Trinity and St John’s CofE, Margate, 38; St Joseph’s RC in Northfleet, Sandgate in Folkestone, and Claremont in Tunbridge Wells all on 37; St Michael’s CofE Infant in Maidstone, 35, St Crispin’s Infant, Westgate on 34; and Herne Infant on 33.

At the other end of the scale, there are 14 schools with 50 per cent or more vacancies.

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 which legally restricts class sizes.

For 2015 entry, of 426 primary appeals registered where infant class legislation applied, just two were upheld.

DARTFORD

JUST three per cent of vacancies in the district, the large majority in two town schools, Temple Hill and Wentworth.

These are two of the three schools along with Brent Primary, that have seen an additional 90 temporary places created after applications were received to ease the pressure.

Fleetdown Primary turned away 53 first choices, sharing the position of most oversubscribed school in Kent, Dartford Bridge Community (23) and Our Lady’s Catholic (20) also proving popular.

GRAVESHAM

Just three places available in town, all at Tymberwood Academy, with 78 families getting none of their choices, by some way the highest figure in Kent. Around 90 additional places were created this year, 30 each at Singlewell, St John’s and Westcourt, just averting a disaster. Most oversubscribed school is St Joseph’s Catholic, turning away 37 first choices, with Cecil Road and St John’s Catholic on 31.

Four schools account for the large majority of the local authority allocations for those with no school of their choice – Westcourt with 25 and three academies, Whitehill with 21, and Chantry and Tymberwood Academy with 13.

Each year I am contacted by parents offered what appear to be absurd alternatives, often from Northfleet, given schools the other side of the borough, or else over the A2 and into the countryside at Istead Rise.

SEVENOAKS

None of the five town schools have vacancies, but levels of oversubscription have fallen across the board.

The most oversubscribed this year is Lady Boswell’s CofE, turning away 24 fist choices, Riverhead Infants having fallen sharply to 10.

Find out more about these figures and other education issues on author Peter Read’s popular website. Visit: www.kentadvice.co.uk

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