Surge in school admission lotteries??

(144 Posts)
Tansie Tue 25-Feb-14 16:07:19

here

Makes me shudder and be grateful that my two are safely in their naice, leafy, MC comp, one that I got them into by buying a house in the catchment.

"The head of one major chain of academies said it was no longer “inherently fair or good for our society” to let parents move into the catchment area of a leading school to get a place."

So, the only DC who will stand any chance of 'getting the good jobs' will be from a private or academically selective school, in other words. Until that glaring inherently unfair loophole is closed, I shall do what I can for my DC. FGS don't take that away, the only thing that us less well-off parents can do to increase our DC's life chances! And no, I have no problem whatsoever with my DC sitting in classes with 'forrin' DC, working class DC or managed SEN DC (DC whose SEN is being properly attended to so the DC can participate in mainsteam education before I get flamed for that)- providing they're all singing from the same hymn sheet in terms of values. As are the DC at my DC's school. What I do have a problem with is that my DC's academic band could condemn them to a school miles away in a grotty area with a disastrous disciplinary record.

All this may do is 'dumb down' all schools since it has been shown that you actually only need a couple of drop-kick DC in a class to wreck the lesson for the rest. Sure, there are potentially such DC at my DC's school but they are utterly in the minority and their behaviour is rigorously managed.

I am glad that one can still effectively buy that. And yes, there are council houses in the catchment, and small 3 br flats. Though yes, I also concede the housing is largely 3-4 br privately owned and most parents in the area are here because of the school.

tallulah Tue 25-Feb-14 16:32:57

Sounds like a great idea when you can't afford to buy in the catchment of a naice school, despite both parents working FT. Turn your argument on its head, why should we be stuck with the school that isn't good enough for your kids?

The only problem I'd have with it is the disruption of so many children travelling. Throw in some free school buses and you've sorted that out too.

tiggytape Tue 25-Feb-14 17:12:11

Well the argument against that of course is if each school was allocated pupils from varying distances and with equal proportions of each ability then perhaps the vast differences you describe between desirable and less desirable comps would be ironed out.

There is nothing magical about a school that takes a high proportion of high ability children and churns out high GCSE grades. Similarly there is nothing inherently awful about a school that ends up taking mainly lower ability children and churns out mediocre GCSE results.

There is a lot about a lottery or fair banding system that I dislike but just about the only good aspect to is is it might lessen the divide that leaves parents trying all sorts to get an advantage.

GoldenBeagle Tue 25-Feb-14 17:40:41

None of this would be necessary if mc house buying parents were not so dazzled by league table results that simply reflect the privelige of the parents.

And so many questions begged. Are socio-houseprice leafy comps the only good comps? Are leafy comps the only way a comp education can lead to a good job? Are only the offspring of the non-leafy disruptive?

creamteas Tue 25-Feb-14 18:13:50

I'm really hoping that this is some form of reverse AIBU, because the idea that anyone would gloat about their ability to disadvantage children from less wealthy families is frankly nauseating.

derektheladyhamster Tue 25-Feb-14 18:17:28

We have this system, It works quite well from what I can see, and the GCSE results are evening out between the 2 schools we are in a lottery for, which is a good thing imo

rumtumtugger Tue 25-Feb-14 19:34:13

Agree, cream.

AmberTheCat Tue 25-Feb-14 21:53:58

Wow. There are several things that concern me about lottery systems (increased traffic on the roads, fewer children being able to walk to school, children not necessarily living near their friends, less community cohesion), but middle class parents no longer being able to buy privilege certainly isn't one of them!

Do kids from less leafy schools stand no chance of getting good jobs then? Patently untrue, but if it were, why is this a system you think we should perpetuate, just so that your children will be alright?

maillotjaune Tue 25-Feb-14 22:15:03

Nice attitude OP hmm

There are practical, travel difficulties that put me off lotteries but I could probably live with that if it stopped this kind of smug shite.

springrain Tue 25-Feb-14 22:27:44

Without getting into OP's views which I suspect are just there to wind us up, lotteries are generally only contemplated in cities where there are several schools within a short distance. They are not generally applied in less built up areas as would be a logistical nightmare and the resultant cost of LA funded buses would be prohibitive, particularly in the current climate of reducing LA budgets.

AmberTheCat Tue 25-Feb-14 22:35:12

I guess the issue that lotteries are designed to address is less prevalent in more rural areas. Where I grew up, for example, in Northumberland, there was one local school and everyone went there, so there was no need to bus kids to schools further away in order to improve the social mix. Good job, since the next nearest school was at least fifteen miles away!

tethersend Tue 25-Feb-14 22:47:31

IIRC, the Admissions Code prohibits LAs from using random allocation as the principal oversubscription criteria for all of its schools.

Mintyy Tue 25-Feb-14 22:51:34

Dear Lord, I sincerely hope my children aren't mixing with yours at school Tansie.

sleepdodger Tue 25-Feb-14 22:51:47

Ffs so I can't take my kids out of school when I have hol from work and now I can't get then into a school near me because the lotto says I am in one miles away so more time and money spent getting to and from schools
This looks like something written by cheaper private schools to boost numbers- those who can will leaving mix if everyone else an even more eclectic mix
Wtf has happened to the state system I was educated in and get more scared of for my dc by day??

tiggytape Tue 25-Feb-14 22:56:15

I think it has been billed in the press as random lotteries but actually they are talking about fair banding systems which are allowed.

WIth fair banding, every child in each primary school takes a test. The children are then grouped by ability (higher, medium and lower ability). Each child states which schools they want as they do now.
When it comes to allocating places though schools get pupils allocated to them with 30% of pupils from the higher group, 40% from the middle group and 30% from the lower group thus ensuring each school gets a fair mix and there's nothing a parent can do to cheat / play the system.

Tutoring a child would do no good because the higher ability group might be huge compared to the lower ability group in some areas and therefore there's less chance of getting a school you like if your child is having their name drawn out of the higher ability hat. Living in a certain road won't help because distance won't be a factor.

derektheladyhamster Wed 26-Feb-14 13:42:35

ours are random lotteries, but the 2 schools almost share a campus they are that close. But one was getting higher results as it sat in the 'golden triangle' of 3 very good leafy primary schools where the majority of children were leaving with level 5's, the other school is bigger, and took children from a much wider local area. So it has worked out well.

Marmitelover55 Wed 26-Feb-14 16:28:50

Two schools have random lotteries where I live. I would have preferred not to have this as we live quite close to my preferred school, but fortunately we got in anyway. Only children wanting to attend either of these schools had to do the test and iv you applied to both schools, you had to sit both schools tests.

Tansie Wed 26-Feb-14 21:20:33

"Sounds like a great idea when you can't afford to buy in the catchment of a naice school, despite both parents working FT. Turn your argument on its head, why should we be stuck with the school that isn't good enough for your kids?"..

First- what is a school? It's not actually a building, it's a group of humans; governors, teachers, parents, children. A good school is one that takes its intake and, for the bright, keeps them performing, for the less bright- well, actually yes, keeps them performing (like my comp does as DS2 is a B/C student at best). All this can be achieved far more easily when you have the Japanese model of the 3 legged stool in place: Teacher/parent/child. All on-side. If one falls over, the model fails.

I am glad that I have a) been able to (joint income £50k) and b) have moved into the 3 legged stool catchment (look THAT up on OFSTED!).

So, if you have a 'good' school, what happens when you increase, widen, manipulate its intake randomly? Remember, the bricks and mortar haven't transmogrified. But maybe the ethos has?! The intake has? The value placed on education by its intake's parents has?

I would beg to challenge those who have suggested that I think it's impossible to get a 'good' education from a school in a less leafy suburb- but it's potentially harder when statistically you're far more likely to have to deal with The Disruptive and Disengaged in a 'less leafy suburb'.

You know, the one thing that strikes me in all the replies this post has accumulated- no one even addresses the existence of private schools whose DC sweep the vast majority of the 'good' jobs! Why do we want all our state educated DC to wade through the proletariat morass of bog-standard, 'levelled' education, 'levelled' by lotteries and fair banding (and by that possibly destroying our 'good' state schools) whilst a gilded 7% waltz life's glittering prizes, laughing at us as they go?

"Do kids from less leafy schools stand no chance of getting good jobs then? "- I haven't said that but yes, your DC's chances of getting a good (your usage) job are reduced if they end up in a sub-standard school.

The point that has been lost here is that can it not be seen that this 'policy' could well have the effect of making sure no pesky prole DC will compete with the golden youth of the Publics and privates? No one can do anything to attempt to ensure their DC doesn't end up in a dangerous, failing, shoddy comp 10 miles away? That you'd have no chance of doing something towards choosing a school that fits with your DC and your values??

Why do you seek that? In a misguided attempt at 'levelling' a deeply skewed field? BUT one you can seek to improve upon?

Tansie Wed 26-Feb-14 21:23:40

Marmite -um- What 'school tests'? Can't be comps as I know them. Our comp cannot discriminate in any way. If you meet the admission criteria, you're in. Just so happens that by some chemistry (wrought over 20 years), the governors, head and teachers of this school have found a magic combination which a) ensures they do well by all their DC and b) have attracted the concerned parents from miles around to buy in-catchment to get in on the act.

Blu Wed 26-Feb-14 21:26:54

Tansie: presumably 'fair banding' tests.

Some comps do combine fair banding with lottery

Tansie Wed 26-Feb-14 21:37:23

Why would there be more than one test if one authority was administering them? "Only children wanting to attend either of these schools had to do the test and iv you applied to both schools, you had to sit both schools tests.".. so, might a wily parent research and apply for the school with the test they thought might best allow their DC to get in?

AgaPanthers Wed 26-Feb-14 21:42:50

Er, I don't think it's magic Tansie.

If I'm not mistaken your kids are at Thornden in Eastleigh, which as an odd gerrymandered catchment stretching into yummy Chandlers Ford while excluding all the down at heel bits of central Eastleigh.

Not magic at all. Simple formula:

Go to Google Maps. Look for houses with swimming pools and large plots and other indicators of wealth. Draw a circle round these, stopping just short of areas with council estates and social housing.

The end.

The Hampshire system is particularly egregious because it uses a catchment map, and because the nature of housing isn't changing due to our planning system, the catchment won't change.

Whereas a currently shit school can work hard improve its results and under a strict distance system 'earn' a smaller catchment by its results, but when the county has already been carved up for the benefit of the richest that can't happen. (Of course smaller catchments benefit the rich too, but change/improvement is less likely under the map system.

Tansie Wed 26-Feb-14 22:16:12

I work every day with people who went to Thornden school. They laugh uproariously at the suggestion that Thornden is now desirable. The point is, the school was 'average' and maybe was "a currently shit school <that> can work hard improve its results and under a strict distance system 'earn' a smaller catchment by its results".... How about that? Rather than a school that set up in a naice MC area thus benefited from its already 'good' catchment. Thus it is that the reverse is true. You seem to be implying that Th doesn't deserve its catchment thus should instantly gerrymander its catchment, carefully including council and social housing (your definition of trouble, not mine), and maybe ignore the DC on its doorstep!

I object to the term 'gerrymander'. It's defined as: 'the process of setting electoral districts, gerrymandering is a practice that attempts to establish a political advantage for a particular party or group by manipulating district boundaries to create partisan advantaged districts.'. Thornden's catchment has remained static, serving the North End (see what I did there?) of Chandler's Ford for decades. The catchment is an almost perfect oblong, no careful excision of council houses or social housing whatsoever. You could sweep the catchment 50% southwards and encompass the same demographic. (though northwards, you'd have to educate sheep and cows...)

Why do you regard the north end of Chandler's Ford as being 'yummy'? What's your yardstick? (Though you wouldn't apply that sobriquet if you sat outside Th awaiting DC!). None of my DSs friends have swimming pools, I can assure you! Most live in 3-4 bedroom 'estate' houses, like ours. All have 2 working parents. shock. Ask the surrounding schools, Mountbatten, Romsey, Kings, Westgate, Henry Beaufort, Perrins etc etc (our other choices) whether they consider themselves 'egregious' by comparison to Thornden... I don't think so.

maillotjaune Wed 26-Feb-14 22:45:49

Well Tansie I didn't mention private schools in my reply to your OP because you were talking about lotteries for state schools.

I don't like the fact that private schools exist. But neither do I like the idea of having to buy your way into a school by moving to the right street. The point being that both school fees and some house prices are beyond many parents who would provide the same support to school and child as you do, but who don't have the funds.

I have little expectation that you will shift your views on any of this though so I'm not sure why I'm even bothering...

AgaPanthers Wed 26-Feb-14 23:01:38

Catchment is here:

www3.hants.gov.uk/schooldetails?dfes=4175#catchment

It's a very odd shape I would say. Stretches out into the leafiness but refuses to touch the urban.

Even on the street map you can see that the bit it covers on the 'wrong' side of the M3 is the big detached houses area, and the tightly packed terraced streets just below that are kept out.

It's very well know that educational outcomes are very highly correlated with parental incomes. I didn't say that social housing was trouble, I'm pointing out that a highly MC intake earns A* regardless of school chosen.

In particular, 95% of the Thornden intake scored at or above level 4 on entry. The free school meals are 1%. ESL 3%. By comparison up to 40% on FSMs at some schools in Eastleigh during the course of last five years.

The intake is pretty similar to a grammar school, ability wise. That's not something the school has done, these are the children going in at 11 before they've set foot on the grounds.

How can it be that there are almost no poor people at all at this school yet Toynbee, in the same community, Chandlers Ford, sharing the same amenities and general sense of domain, has 10%?

And these catchments aren't gerrymandered you say? All just naice middle class parents with a shared sense of values, like not wanting any free school meal kids in.

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