DM schools admissions sad facing

(41 Posts)
AgaPanthers Fri 28-Mar-14 21:37:10

www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2591696/Moving-house-near-good-school-doesnt-work-Family-devastated-told-11-year-old-girl-join-friends-new-secondary-BEDROOM-WINDOW.html

Apparently they moved to go to this school and are mystified as to how their primary school classmates got in.

The admissions document makes it pretty clear:

haberdashersaskes.fluencycms.co.uk/Mainfolder/Crayford-additional-information-booklet-2014.pdf

Basically they have fair banding with a distance policy. Depending on your band the cut off distance could be between half a mile and over a mile.

The school from the photo looks to be more than half a mile away, so that's that really

Not sure how this is news.

I suppose a lottery would be fairer, and eliminate the entitlement complex that you deserve to get in based on your postcode.

The distance cut-off at DS1/DS2's school was 225m this year. That didn't even make the local paper, let alone the Daily Fail.

SolomanDaisy Fri 28-Mar-14 21:56:13

Weird article. They didn't move house, she's lived there all her life. And the admissions document suggests that the higher the band you're placed in, the further away you can live and still get a place. So her friends got in because they did better in the entrance test.

Blu Sat 29-Mar-14 10:07:08

The ignorance of DM readers over schools admissions, as demonstrated in the usual range of idiotic comments, is astounding. Most appeals succeed, sue if the school have used race as a factor, she must have been refused due to poor behaviour or attendance, should have put her name on the waiting list years ago......

Not to mention that this sad-faced family's plight is the obvious reason to vote UKIP.

Levantine Sat 29-Mar-14 10:11:09

It reads like a Brass Eye piece - honestly. They obviously didn't live close enough and that's al there is to it

CecilyP Sat 29-Mar-14 11:46:48

Blu, you have missed out 'she should have studied harder to make the grade'! Even though this not a selective school, and a glance at the link in the OP shows that children in the lowest band were admitted from furthest away and children in bands 2 and 3 had to live nearest. Getting into the school would have been a bit of a longshot anyway as it has its own primary from which pupils move up, as well as another feeder primary, then there are siblings of existing pupils and 10% musical aptitude places. So, in all, there will be less than 10 other places for each of the 9 ability bands, so children in the the more populous bands would have to live very near indeed.

I would question the need to have as many as 9 bands when there are so few places on offer.

tiggytape Sat 29-Mar-14 11:53:30

Cecily - I wondered that as well. By the time all the feeder school, primary school children and siblings have got a place, they must only have a handful of places to allocate to anyone else - it hardly justifies so many bands.

Very few people with younger children, older children or no children seem to know a lot about admissions in general. Everyone here in London seems certain that each child should go to their nearest school. This is a very common assertion or complaint.
Not only is this not the admission policy at all (like everywhere else we have siblings and lotteries and feeder schools and faith schools) but it wouldn't work anyway - we are crammed in like sardines. They'd end up with 300 pupils in some reception classes if they did that!
It is quite common not to get into your nearest school or even a school on the same road due to admission policy and sheer numbers applying.

CecilyP Sat 29-Mar-14 12:23:11

I do have some sympathy with the family in question (not all the bleeding heart stuff though) as I would assume that had she been in a different band, she would have got a place at the school.

Meglet Sat 29-Mar-14 12:31:44

We've had similar stories in the local paper. Sadface parents who applied to outstanding schools that they aren't anywhere near catchment for and their little darling doesn't get a place in any of them. Obviously their DC is so bright they must go to the 'best' school, but the parents aren't capable of reading the schools admissions criteria hmm.

tiggytape Sat 29-Mar-14 15:27:34

We have people who don't get into any of their 6 closest schools (mix of just out of SM, Requires Improvement and Good mostly).
They are pretty annoyed about this too but there are parts of London and other cities where some houses and whole roads don't qualify for any local school at all. Since distance isn't everything (siblings, faith, tests and lotteries can all come into it) an awful lot of people are a bit stuck for options even if they are willing to look at less than outstanding schools.

It can also vary year by year. A lot of people get very fed up that their neighbour's older children are in schools that children from the same road now have absolutely no hope of ever getting into.

ScaryMcLary Sat 29-Mar-14 21:39:25

I think the point is more about how screwed up our education system is if she will have to take 2 buses to a school miles away, when she can see a school from her window. I mean really that is so crazy.

Yes, yes I know the admission system and banding and catchments and all that make it a non-story, as she shouldn't have been surprised. But really we lived in a screwed up education system.

I am no expert, but I have lived in 5 other countries and none have this issue - pretty much everyone just goes to the local school. Why is that? Is it because we started grading our schools?

Bluestocking Sat 29-Mar-14 21:43:20

The Gunning family are to be commended on their sadface work. There are several really outstanding sadface photos illustrating that non-story.

tiggytape Sat 29-Mar-14 22:57:25

I am no expert, but I have lived in 5 other countries and none have this issue - pretty much everyone just goes to the local school. Why is that? Is it because we started grading our schools?

Mainly it is to do with the fact that England is one of the most densely populated and crowded nations in Europe. Hundreds and hundreds of people live inside every square km.

It is also to do with the fact that we are short of school places and at crisis point in terms of the numbers. We need 80,000 new secondary school places in the next few years just to meet basic demand let alone offer anyone a genuine choice. Things are worse at primary school age.

So when you have 700 people living very, very close to one school and the school only takes 180 pupils per year and the next closest school 2 miles away only takes children from a 1 mile radius, you can see why people end up being bussed out to their 13th or 30th closest school.

CecilyP Sun 30-Mar-14 12:07:56

Doesn't everyone get a school place in the end though, tiggytape? It seems like a game of musical chairs where the first children sit down on the nearest chair, while the last ones end up running round all the chairs to get the last one left. And it wouldn't be so bad if the unlucky ones were being bused, but it seems they have to make their own transport arrangements.

I really don't think it is population density that makes the difference, so much as different schools having different admissions criteria and then having so many faith schools with their own rules added to the mix. There seems to be nothing co-ordinated about the system to make things easy for families.

I don't know where Scary has lived, but in here Scotland we have fixed catchments so while not everyone will get their nearest school, they will get one at a reasonable distance. There is an option to apply for another school, but out of catchment children will only be admitted once all catchment children have a place.

prh47bridge Sun 30-Mar-14 12:17:20

Yes everyone does get a school place in the end. The unlucky ones are entitled to free transport if the allocated school is more than 3 miles from home by the shortest walking route (2 miles if they are under 8) unless they failed to list their local school as one of their preferences. Unfortunately some parents appear to be unaware of their entitlement to free transport or unwilling to take it up. It does not help that some LAs try to deny parents their rights.

The system is co-ordinated in the sense that in the normal admissions round you apply via your LA and they will come up with an offer. It is true, however, that the mix of admission criteria can make the system difficult to navigate.

As Tiggy says the big problem is that there is a shortage of places in many areas. Even where there is no shortage the schools are often in the wrong place leaving children with significant journeys to get to and from school.

tiggytape Sun 30-Mar-14 12:47:53

That is very true Cecily. Parents can be unlucky with the mix of admission criteria nearby eg their nearest school uses a lottery and they don't get pulled out of the hat or their nearest schools are all faith schools and they don't practice that faith but hundreds of other applicants do.

But that's also where the combination of school place shortages and very dense populations come into it. When all schools were not totally full and oversubscribed (as most are in densely populated regions), there was genuine choice and flexibility in the system eg local people could get into a nearby Catholic school without being Catholic if they wanted and equally they could opt to avoid a faith school and go to one of 2 or 3 nearby comps instead. Very few schools were so in demand that they turned people away who lived on the same street.

Now schools are so full it displaces people. A catholic family may not meet the distance criteria for their most local comp 1.5 miles away so instead apply to a faith school 4 miles away as the next best thing which in turn pushes out non-Catholic people who live nextdoor to that faith school furtehr away from home too.

So it is all a lot of jostling for position until some people are left with no school place and get sent miles away and even some of the people who got one of their choices end up travelling because their nearest schools are closed to them and they got a choice 4 miles away instead of a random school 4 miles away (which they may or may not see as preferable to the good local school they would ideally have got).

Without any empty spaces in the system and with school locations not corresponding with the newest house building, a lot of people are competing directly against each other and more and more are forced to travel.

tiggytape Sun 30-Mar-14 12:58:03

We also have sibling criteria as standard here in most regions and in baby boom years this has created even worse shortages in some areas because siblings get a place before local people no matter how far away the sibling lives from the school.

At secondary school this can means upto 50% of places go to siblings.
At primary school this can mean upto 100% of places go to siblings leaving very few or no places for other people even if they live 50m or less from the school gates.

We also don't have any real flexibility to expand schools. Sometimes at primary level a class is added for just 1 year only (called a bulge class). That might mean children in the very immediate area get a place but certainly not all of those for whom it is their closest school.

Bulge classes don't happen at secondary schools really at all so if an area only has 1 school but hundreds of applicants, there is no alternative but to send many of them to other towns and other schools. There is no question that a school could take everybody who applies and lives very nearby because that would mean some year groups would be hundreds and hundreds of pupils in size due to population density where many families live in flats and shared housing and the shortage of schools in general.

eddiemairswife Sun 30-Mar-14 15:20:18

The problem really arose when the then government introduced 'parental choice' in the late 1980s. The idea being that popular schools would be able to grow to meet demand, and less popular ones would either pull their socks up or shrivel and die. Up until then you went to your local school, and if you moved out of the catchment your younger children would go to the new catchment school. In my LA, although we have quite a lot of new arrivals from various countries, there are still enough secondary places for every child, but vast oversubscription for a handful of the available schools.

CecilyP Sun 30-Mar-14 15:45:48

Parental choice always existed in London LCC/ILEA - certainly did when I was a child, long before the 1980s, but there wasn't the same level of information on which to base the choice, and, I think, many people did not make much of a choice beyond the most obvious local option, certainly at primary level. At secondary level, you had to submit a form with a first and second choice.

I think the choice agenda worked OK then where there were plenty of schools, falling rolls and people not being especially choosy. Less popular schools have indeed shrivelled up and died, (far fewer secondary schools now than there used to be) but more popular ones have not been able to expand to meet demand (and some very large schools even to have smaller PANs than they used to) which has left something of a logistical problem for organising children's admission into the remaining schools.

tiggytape Sun 30-Mar-14 17:31:26

Cecily - that is very true. People always had choice in London and siblings always got priority even if they moved miles away. Of course though the London system probably isn't typical of the rest of the country and probably isn't even now.

In London, distance isn't such a big barrier and never was - the schools aren't dozens of miles apart as they might be in rural areas - it is just as easy to pick a school 1.1miles away as one 0.9miles away i nthe opposite direction. People therefore never really had a notion of a local school. They still don't - very few people would be able to guess which is their closest school as the crow flies without looking it up.
Plenty of people live roughly 1.5 miles from 2 or 3 schools. Which was great when they weren't all full up with people living 1.2miles away because it meant people had choice. Those same houses can now be stuck in a no-man's land where they don't qualify for any local school and those are the people sent miles away.

With choice, it used to be that popular schools were full, mediocre schools took people who were less choosy or couldn't get in to a more popular school (and mediocre schools generally had spaces spare for newcomers to an area as well which is unheard of now). The awful schools were half empty only taking people who knew nothing about local school reputations or who wanted a school over the road.
And people definitely knew which were the awful schools even if they didn't know which were the best schools because an awful school in many parts of London was spectacularly awful to the extent that the fights, drugs and other problems would become part of the wider community's problems and not just contained within the school.

doodledotmum Sun 30-Mar-14 23:01:20

Surely what ever way you loo at this the issues are 1. Shortage of places 2. Parents not visiting schools, so they rely on ofsted reports even if 5 years old 3. The illusion that you have a choice 4. Too may people applying for same schools and so few places. Article is junk but still raises awareness of the issue even if inaccurate

DeWe Mon 31-Mar-14 10:10:26

A friend of mine was telling me back in the 80s when he applied to secondary it was done on catchments, and they guarenteed they would get into the catchment school.
Only thing was at his secondary the catchment was set up so the children living adjacent to the school at the back (but there was a gate there confused) weren't in that school's catchment. They were bused out to a school 3+ miles away.

I don't think lottery is better. Yes, you might think so if you get a school you otherwise wouldn't. But it's going to end up with far more people living next to the school and not getting in isn't it?

tallulah Mon 31-Mar-14 11:11:08

Looking at that school's admission criteria it would be very hard to get a place anyway. I really don't think sibling priority should exist at secondary level, and TBH not so much at primary either.

If admissions are decided by distance then all applicants should be ranked by distance, and siblings only come into it as a tie-breaker.

DD didn't get into our local school because 50% of the places were taken by siblings. The year after she started school they put on a bulge class, so children from the far end of our road (ie further away from school than us) walk past our house to get to the school we were too far away from. In 2 years time when that bulge year of 60 have siblings but only 30 places, chances are they won't all get in. And first/only children living next door to the school won't get in.

tallulah Mon 31-Mar-14 11:14:21

Our local paper was full of stories of children who had got no secondary school place. That would be because they picked 3 over-subscribed schools, none of which they are in catchment for.

Of course you want your child to go to the best school, but the admission booklet is very clear on how it works and give the furthest distance admitted the year before. If that is 1 mile and you are 4 miles away, well it isn't rocket science.

I would be too embarrassed to go to the paper under those circumstances.

tiggytape Mon 31-Mar-14 11:20:14

tallulah - That does happen. But it isn't always the reason for getting no secondary school
If a child lives near a faith school, a popular school (with sibling priority) and a lottery school (but doesn't get their name pulled out the hat) for example, that can be their 3 closest options wiped out in one go.
If for some reason you don't qualify for your closest school (eg too many siblings or it is a faith school) then the chances are you might not qualify for your 2nd closest school either as you'll be too far away on the distance criteria and then you're left with no place or a place at a school nobody else wants miles away.

Sometimes parents list daft choices but quite often, they are genuinely in a position where no matter what they put on their form, they won't get into any local school at all. That is certainly becoming more common in London and other similar areas. In my borough there is a growing list of streets that don't qualify for any secondary school at all and those children will be allocated something in another borough when slots can be found.

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