Home Children and Young People Allocation of Places in Kirkby Secondary Schools – UPDATE
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Allocation of Places in Kirkby Secondary Schools – UPDATE

by Guy Murphy

Despite the majority of children in Knowsley successfully securing a place at a secondary school of their choice, 49 children who requested a place in a Kirkby secondary school from September 2024 (All Saints Catholic High School or Kirkby High School) have not secured a place at either school.

This is clearly a concerning issue for those families in particular, and it is a situation which the Council believes could have been avoided.

Here’s the background and an update on the work ongoing to resolve this issue.

Why has this happened?

In recent years, both All Saints Catholic High School and Kirkby High School have successfully received a grading of “Good” from Ofsted.  This has led to many more Kirkby families choosing these schools as their preferred options.  At the same time, there has been a reduction in the number of Knowsley parents choosing to send their children to schools outside of Knowsley.

This has led to both schools being oversubscribed in 2023 and again in 2024 – meaning demand for places exceeds the set “Pupil Admission Numbers” at each school (the number of children who each school will accept each year).

What was done to avoid this in the first place?

Knowsley Council has been engaging with both All Saints Catholic High School and Kirkby High School over the last year in order to make arrangements to offer more places at both sites.  The Council has offered both schools funding to support an increase in places.

The Council has no power or ability to force either school to accept more children.  The final decision as to whether to offer more places for local children rests with the schools themselves, who are both independent from Knowsley Council.  All Saints Catholic High School is an Archdiocesan school and Kirkby High School is an Academy Trust, managed by The Rowan Trust.

All Saints Catholic High School have agreed to increase their Pupil Admission Number by five places for September 2024 and Kirkby High School have agreed to increase their Pupil Admission Number by four places.  While the additional nine places are welcome, they aren’t enough to meet the gap.  There are still 49 pupils have been unable to secure a place at either school.

The Council has previously put on record its disappointment that both schools have decided not to increase their September 2024 beyond the nine additional places which they have agreed.  The Council believes that both schools can and should go further to support local families.

Increasing capacity at either school should not impact on the quality of education.  The additional finances which are being offered by the Council would support leadership at the schools to provide the resource, staffing and organisation to manage additional pupils effectively.  In both cases, any increase in the number of pupils would be supported by the correct amount of funding, as recommended by the Government, to make any changes to support an increase in pupils.

What has happened since National Offer Day?

The Council remains in dialogue with both schools and the Academy Trusts responsible for both schools.  Unfortunately, these meetings have not been able to resolve the issue.

Alongside these discussions, the Council has been offering support to the families who are impacted.

Most recently, the Leader and Chief Executive of Knowsley Council, along with MP Knowsley Sir George Howarth, travelled to London to meet with Gillian Keegan – the Secretary of State for Education.

During that meeting, they raised their concerns about capacity issues in Kirkby and asked the Secretary of State to support the Council’s desire to support expansion of Kirkby secondary schools to accommodate more local children.

The Secretary of State was supportive and agreed with the Council’s views that additional pupils could be accommodated with the right support, will and investment.

Conversations with the Department for Education will continue.

What can parents / families do now if they find themselves in this situation?

If parents/families have been allocated a school which is not of their preference and would like help and advice, the Council will provide support.

Parents should refer to their allocation email/letter as this will include details of how to appeal, but there is also information on the Knowsley Council website.

Parents can also contact the Council’s School Admissions team via email at schooladmissions@knowsley.gov.uk or by telephone on (0151)-443 5142 / 5143 / 3372 (there is a voicemail facility if an officer is not immediately available).