Poole’s two grammars oversubscribed but so were three Poole comprehensives

Janet Downs's picture

The two selective schools in Poole, Dorset, were oversubscribed if all preferences are taken into account.  But so were three Poole comprehensives.

The data* shows 312 applications named Parkstone Grammar School (PAN 180) as one of their preferences.  It’s not known how many were first choice preferences but the data reveals that 47 of these applications were for children who didn’t meet the academic criteria.  They either failed or didn’t take the selection test.

Poole Grammar School (PAN 180) appeared in 292 applications.  But, again, 52 of these were for children who’d failed or didn’t take the selection test.    Poole Grammar School was one of two grammars which were judged to Require Improvement in 2016.  The other was Boston Grammar School, Lincolnshire.  Ofsted monitoring later in 2016 found both schools were taking effective action to tackle the areas requiring improvement.

It appears some parents think they can name a grammar school in their preferences without their child passing or taking the 11+.  But as I’ve said before: parents can’t choose grammars; grammars choose children.

The other oversubscribed schools in Poole were Magna Academy (PAN 180) with 455 applications and St Edward’s RC/CE VA School (PAN 184) with 423 applications.  Poole High School (PAN 325) allocates 10% of its places to those who are selected as ‘expressly academic’.   It attracted 615 applications.

Three comprehensive schools in Poole were as oversubscribed or more so than the two selective schools.  Two comprehensives were undersubscribed and a third, which admits from Year 9, was also undersubscribed.  

It should be remembered, however, that ‘applications’ included every mention of a school in the list of preferences irrespective of whether the preference was first or last choice.  As I’ve said before, the only reliable way of measuring a school’s popularity is the number of first choice applications.

UPDATE 14.00 hrs:  What’s going on in other selective counties

KENT: Seven grammars have more than ten vacancies on allocation.  One has fewer than ten.  Total number of vacancies = 241.  Source Kent Independent Education Advice 

BUCKINGHAMSHIRE:  One grammar has one vacancy for Year 7 in 2017.  The table from Buckinghamshire is complicated (at least this reader found it so).  It appears seven Bucks grammars accepted all first preference Buckinghamshire applicants.  Six Bucks grammars rejected some first preference Bucks resident applications – numbers range from 21 at Dr Challoner’s Grammar to five at John Hampden.  Despite rejecting some in-county first preference applicants, five of these six grammars took out-county pupils.  In fact, all but one Bucks Grammars (the exception being Dr Challoner’s Grammar) have out-county pupils allocated to them.  The average number of out-county pupils allocated places in Bucks grammars is 55.  In one case, Burnham Grammar School, out-county pupils (104) outnumber Bucks pupils (46).  These figures suggest Bucks grammars are oversubscribed if out-county applicants and second and later preferences are factored in.  However, fourteen of Bucks comprehensive schools also rejected applications from first preference Buckinghamshire pupils, 136 in the case of Waddesdon School.  This suggests many Bucks comprehensives were also oversubscribed.   

GREATER MANCHESTER: I couldn’t find official figures.  Manchester Evening News reported that William Hulme’s Grammar was the most difficult to enter with 1,307 applications for 147 places in 2016.  If only first preferences were counted, then William Hulme attracted 353 applications.  Still impressive at 2.4 applications per place but the dip in numbers shows the unreliability of judging popularity on all mentions of a school no matter what preference position.  Stretford Grammar was the second most popular.  The next eight most popular schools in Greater Manchester comprise two grammars and six comprehensives.

Oversubscription figures above are calculated by including all preferences.  As I’ve said before, this gives an unreliable picture of the popularity of any school and leads to misleading claims of particular schools being massively oversubscribed when, in truth, a last preference is hardly a vote of confidence.


*Downloadable here

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David Barry's picture
Thu, 30/03/2017 - 18:08

Indeed the term "oversubscription" is vastly over used. It is a simple mathematical fact that if - to use the case of the London wide admissions system which allows six preferences - one has an area where the total  number of school places in the several schools  is broadly equal to the number of children, and each child uses their six preferences then there will be SIX times as many applications as there are places, so every school will appear to be "oversubscribed" yet NO shortage of places. In fact it would be possible for an area to have 25 per cent too many places, ensuring empty places when autumn term starts and still have every school "oversubscribed"

Not then, the number of applications that matter but the actual number of "bodies".


In fact I do not think you could regard any schools as oversubcribed, unless, in the second week of the autumn term it is:-


1. Full.


2. Has a  waiting list. A small one would do.

Janet Downs's picture
Fri, 31/03/2017 - 09:28

Even schools which are full in the second week of the Autumn term may not have been oversubscribed.  They may have filled their places with second, third or lower preferences.

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