For the first time the shortfall in grammar school places for Sevenoaks students has exceeded 120, highlighting the urgent need for a new grammar school annexe in the town.
Figures released this month show that over 510 boys were eligible for the 420* boys’ places available in West Kent grammar schools for 2014 entry, creating a shortfall of over 90 places for West Kent boys. However, for this year only, 60 of this shortfall has been filled by the addition of two temporary forms by the Judd and Skinners schools. Nevertheless, more than 30 West Kent boys who passed the 11 plus test, mainly from Sevenoaks and villages to the north and west, remain without 2014 West Kent grammar school places.
The figures also show that over 500 girls were eligible for the 465** girls’ places available in West Kent grammar schools for 2014 entry, creating a shortfall of over 35 places for West Kent girls. However, for this year only, this shortfall has been filled by the addition of a temporary form by Tonbridge Grammar School.
The underlying position, once the temporary forms are stripped out, therefore remains clear – an ongoing annual shortfall of 120 West Kent grammar school places, with this shortfall increasing over time as the population grows.
School Census Figures
The 120 shortfall in grammar places was confirmed by Weald of Kent Grammar School, the school bidding to establish the Sevenoaks grammar annexe, in a consultation letter sent to parents this month:-
“Data provided by KCC was derived from the most recent School Census…KCC concludes that there will be insufficient year 7 capacity in the areas of Sevenoaks South, Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells. The shortfall is currently about four forms of entry (120 students), but KCC forecasts that it will increase to eight forms of entry (240 students) by 2020.”
Indeed KCC’s published population forecasts, which are based on existing primary school rolls, show that the number of 11 year olds in Sevenoaks will increase by 30% over the next six years. KCC’s long term forecasts also indicate that this upwards trend will continue into the next decade as significant housing developments in the Sevenoaks area reach completion.
Even High Scorers Will Miss Out
Unless the Sevenoaks grammar annexe is established, Sevenoaks children who pass the 11 plus will be denied places at West Kent grammar schools because they live outside of the ever shrinking catchment areas.
Indeed, in the absence of the annexe, even Sevenoaks children who score close to full marks on the 11 plus will not be offered West Kent grammar school places. This was demonstrated this month when even Sevenoaks boys who scored as high as 96%*** of the full mark were not offered West Kent grammar school places, leaving them and their parents distraught. These boys think they have failed, but this is not true – they only missed out on a grammar school place because they have the misfortune to live in the only major Kent town without a grammar school.
Roger Gough, KCC’s Education Chief, therefore welcomed Weald of Kent’s recent decision to consult parents on establishing the much needed Sevenoaks annexe. He said:-
“This is a very welcome development in the efforts to tackle the shortage of selective places in West Kent, and the anomaly of the lack of Sevenoaks provision.”
*The published admissions numbers for the three West Kent boys’ grammar schools, Tunbridge Wells Boys, Judd and Skinners, are 180, 125 and 115 – a total of 420.
**The published admissions numbers for the three West Kent girls’ grammar schools, Tunbridge Wells Girls, Tonbridge and Weald Of Kent, are 140, 150 and 175 – a total of 465.
***In the 11 plus test for 2014 entry, the full marks score was 423. Boys from north Sevenoaks who scored 406 or less were not offered places at the local super-selective grammar schools Judd and Skinners, and were also outside of the catchment area of the local non-super selective grammar school Tunbridge Wells Boys. These Sevenoaks boys were therefore not offered places at West Kent grammar schools, leaving them and their parents distraught. [406/423 = 96%].