Record numbers of final year primary pupils get their preferred place at secondary school

    On National Offer day last week more than half a million Year 6 children all over the country found out where they were going to school in September. In Tunbridge Wells a large percentage of pupils got their first choice - despite an increase in the number of applications

    Mascalls

    After months of perusing school prospectuses, attending Open Days and filling in forms, parents of final year primary school pupils in Tunbridge Wells found out last week whether they had got into the secondary school of their choice.

    Over 1,620 places were awarded at our nine non-independent schools last week with Kent County Council (KCC) admitting the demand for secondary school places in Tunbridge Wells is higher than ever.

    KCC’s Cabinet Member for Education and Health Reform, Roger Gough, said: “Officers have been hard at work to ensure that there is enough capacity in Kent schools to cope with another year of increased applications. The excellent work in Kent schools, coupled with KCC delivering on its school place planning provision, has meant 2016 will see the highest number of children securing their first preference school to date.”

    The reason behind the increase is because Tunbridge Wells’ schools continue to provide outstanding educational provisions in both the selective and all abilities educational arenas.

    This is reflected in the most recent national GCSE results which sees Tunbridge Wells once again at the top end of the league table.

    Both Tunbridge Wells Girls’ Grammar and Skinners’ saw 99 per cent of their pupils achieving five or more GCSEs at A*- C in Maths and English last year while pupils at Tunbridge Wells Grammar School for Boys gained 97 per cent.

    Bennett Memorial was the highest achieving non-grammar in the borough with 72 per cent of pupils gaining A*- C, followed by St Gregory’s Catholic School with 64 per cent and Skinners’ Kent Academy improving with a rise to 56 per cent.

    These figures far exceed the county’s average, which actually fell slightly from 58 per cent in 2014 to 57.3 per cent in 2015 due to a number of underperforming schools.

    Yet despite this, Kent County Council saw a big increase in the number of children applying for places in secondary schools in the county. A total of 18,797 applications were received – 600 up from last year.

    Yet for every overjoyed parent and child, there will always be a small minority who are not allocated the school of their choice. Cllr Gough offers the following advice: “Don’t immediately discount the schools offered and first visit the schools in question before taking any decisions.”

    The Government also points out that despite rising pupil numbers – mainly due to a rise in the national birth rate over the past decade – 95 per cent of parents will receive an offer at one of their top three preferred secondary schools.

    Parents who aren’t happy can appeal. You have a legal right to do so but always have a back-up plan in case the appeal doesn’t go your way.

    See below for what to do if your child doesn’t get their preferred place…

    How to appeal against your secondary school decision:

    • First contact the admissions authority. This may be the Council, the academy or free school that you want to get into and ask to be put on the ‘continuing interest list’.
    • In the meantime, start an appeal process. For information visit www.gov.uk
    • If you get your third preference you can appeal for a place at your first or second choice; if you didn’t get any of your four choices you can appeal against all of those decisions.
    • The Good Schools Guide Advice Service can advise you and guide you through the whole process. For more information visit www.goodschoolsguide.co.uk
    • For detailed fact sheets on appealing and legal advice visit www.ace-ed.org.uk
    • For general information on appealing visit www.childrenslegalcentre.com