Secondary School Places 2018

Getting the facts right

There have been a wide number of scary stories circulated by the Lib Dems trying to instil fear and worry into parents about the allocation of secondary places for September 2018. Whilst we all accept there is an election coming to use that as an excuse to create greater anxiety when it is not necessary is deeply concerning.

Let me be very clear that there are more than enough places for the number of children who applied.

There are 1,935 school places available at secondary schools and only 1,758 applications. There will be places available and all young people will be placed within the next few weeks.

Recent figures released by Achieving for Children (AfC) have revealed that there were 98 children who are unplaced after the first allocations. Of the 94 applicants, 66 expressed only three or fewer preferences (of six) thereby significantly reducing their chances of obtaining a place at a preferred school. Some parents will have expressed only a single selection at one of the Tiffin schools because if they fail the entrance exam then they will switch to the independent sector. Even though they hold the Tiffin tests early to prevent this it still seems to happen.

This year, Kingston has anticipated, planned for and seen a 7.1% increase in applicants compared to last year, compared with a London average increase of 4.4%. The increase is attributable mainly to the 2000s baby boom feeding into the secondary school process.

This is the first year for some time in which there have been unplaced children at the initial allocations stage of the Year 7 offers stage, although it happened frequently under the Lib Dems during 2009 to 2011.

The offers made on 1st March are the start of the process and places will be freed up from waiting-lists in the weeks to come as families either refuse their offer or opt for places in the private sector. There will also be some out of borough applications that will withdraw as places become available in their home borough.

This is not an issue of not enough provision or the messy policy of ‘bulge classes’ (non-permanent expansions) the Lib Dems gave parents when they ran the Council.


Additional mainstream school places

Since May 2014, an additional 180 Reception and 285 Year 7 places per year have been provided across the borough, as per the table below. 

That means that the capacity in Reception has grown by 10% in that period, from 1,830 to 2,010 available places per year; and the capacity in Year 7 has grown from 1,603 to 1935. (The 285 increase has been partially offset by Southborough’s reduction of its PAN from 150 to 135 in 2016.)

The Council’s expenditure on providing those Reception places is £15.1m.
If GEMS Kingston Primary opens as planned, in September 2019, that will provide a further 60 Reception places and 420 primary places in total.

Additional special school places

Since 2014, capacity in the three special schools has increased by 19% (52 places), as follows:

The Council’s expenditure on those places is £2.7m and we have just also approved the further £1m expansion of provision of SEN places at Hollyfield and St Philip's.

Admissions data

First preference satisfaction rates for Year 7 and Reception entry have both increased since March and April 2014 respectively, as follows: