Rochester councillor against proposed change to the admissions criteria for the Thomas Aveling school

An academy schooling group has proposed plans to alter the admissions criteria for one of its Rochester schools.

FPTA academies has put forward an addition to the oversubscription criteria for the Thomas Aveling school on Arethusa Road.

The proposed change would mean that students who went to one of the academies primary schools would be prioritised over a student who lived within the catchment area.

Cllr Alex Paterson has raised concerns about the significant impact such change could have on the people in his Rochester West ward. He said: “The impact of that small change could be huge, particularly for the people slightly further from the school in the furthest reaches of my ward, and the furthest reaches of Rochester East and Rochester South.

“It means that regardless of how close they are to the school, priority will be given to pupils who have attended one of the primary schools in the same academy chain.

“It’s actually a natural consequence of a move towards treating schools like businesses. I don’t think that’s appropriate at all.”

The schools current oversubscription criteria prioritises looked after children. This is followed by siblings, students who live in the access area of Bostal who do not have many other secondary school alternatives and then those that meet the distance criteria.

If the plan is approved it could mean that students who attend the Warren Wood primary school, which is just a three minute walk away from the Thomas Aveling school, could miss out on a place as it does not come under the academy chain.

Distance of Warren Wood primary to Thomas Aveling school

A six week consultation period was held from December 4 2019 to January 28 2020 where members of the public could voice their opinion on the proposal.

In a statement to us, Mr Jackson, headteacher at the Thomas Aveling school said: “All responses received during the consultation period have been collated and are currently being considered by the Governing Board.

“Although we note the concerns raised… if the proposed amendment is approved, we do not expect many additional students.

“However, we do want them to have the opportunity to continue their education in an FTPA Academies Trust school, where we hold the same values and ethos.”

Cllr Paterson wrote a letter to the Governing Board during the consultation period and hopes that the objection he, and others have shown, will be considered.

He said: ” It’s really important that the people who are in charge of the Thomas Aveling school make the right decision on this issue.”

Cllr Paterson’s letter to the Governing Board

No decision has been made yet on this proposed criteria change. However if it is approved, it could have a big impact on some Rochester residents as early as September next year.

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