No reception place for DD

(92 Posts)
skandi1 Wed 17-Apr-13 19:49:24

So the email verdict is in and they were unable to offer a place to my DD who is due to start reception in September.

What does this mean and what should I do next?? Any experiences please as I am desperate and so sad as this isn't the start I had hoped for, for my pfb. Also any useful advice. I am in London and have 6 primaries each with 90 place reception intake all less than half a mile from me. How can this be??

pooka Thu 18-Apr-13 11:05:01

I suppose bishop justus is a recent build for secondary. But is cofe and now applying admissions criteria that leaves only a small percentage of places for children based on distance rather than worship.

Bromley has a history of being rather shortsighted in terms of schools and retention of buildings. There was a big decrease in birth rates in the 80s which led to many schools being amalgamated and the buildings being reappropriated for other purposes. It makes it so much more complicated to reverse the situation when there is a baby boom.

I think academisation (massive massive push in Bromley) and lack of robust planning obligations on major developers means that there is a lack of central Bromley funds for building programmes, and the government sure as hell isn't going to step in and pay because, well, that goes against the government approach to education IMO.

Pyrrah Thu 18-Apr-13 14:04:43

Don't panic yet.

I'm in hideously oversubscribed Southwark - I got lucky and just squeaked into my 2nd choice but we're desperate to get our first choice.

I spoke to the LA - who are handling the waiting lists until the end of acceptances (sometime in May I think, but they can tell you).

We are way, way out of the usual catchment distance (1000+ metres outside LDO) for a very popular school and yet DD is only 47 on the waiting list - and that is with every child who listed that school above the option they got still on it.

The lists will move really fast, and given how close you are to start with and there are 6 potentials in the running, I will be very suprised if you aren't right at the top of the list for some if not most of the 6.

Once you've got the LDO and the waiting list number for each school, then you can keep ringing (as often as you like according to the lady at Southwark) to check for movement.

christinarossetti Thu 18-Apr-13 14:14:20

I second the 'don't panic' school of thought (easier said than done).

There will be a shake down over the next few weeks, then second round offers in early May, then bulge classes set up to accommodate the children without a place.

My friend was in exactly your position in Walthamstow last year. Her local school set up a bulge class and she was sorted.

You'll have to hold your nerve over the next few weeks and months although I can see that a private place back up makes sense.

skandi1 Thu 18-Apr-13 14:25:04

Oh it just gets worse. I have just spoken to the admissions people at bromley. And yes indeed, our "place" is a junior school for 7 to 11 year olds and DD will have to sit with 7 year olds as there are no places available and a very serious shortage this year.

We are not anywhere near the top of any of the waiting lists and I was told unlikely to get a place through waiting lists.

The only positive of the day is that I now have potential places in 5 of bromleys best prep schools inc the two who previously had said they were full. One of my neighbours is involved in the most popular/best (also most expensive) one and she made a call on my behalf.

The thing which really got me was that the independent catholic will take dd even though we are not of the faith.

So independent education it is. Unless I want to throw my daughter to the lions with a bunch of children twice her age.

Thanks for the handholding.

tiggytape Thu 18-Apr-13 14:31:05

skandi1 - do you mean they plan a mixed class of 4 year olds with 7-8 year olds. Surely not? They wouldn't even be at the same stages of the curriculum.
Or will it be a class of 4 year olds in a school of 7-11 year olds which might not be so bad (after all many areas have full primary schools taking children aged 3-11 all in the same building).

It is probably advisable to take whatever is offered at this stage and see what comes of the lists. There are probably others who will be going private too if things are so bad and who knows - this might shorten the lists a bit? There's nothing to stop you holding 1 (or even 2) private school offers in addition to your state school offer so don't be rushed into anything at this stage.

pooka Thu 18-Apr-13 14:36:39

I think it'll be part of turning a junior school into a primary - so her class at the 'new' infants will be the first year, and then next year they can have r &yr1 and the year after r, yr 1 and yr2 (made up of septembers reception starters?

Which school is it op? I wasn't aware of any distinct junior schools. Apart I suppose from worsley bridge, which tends to take dcs from st George's in beckenham. They've got space I suppose for extensions and building work.

I'm going to look at the newshopper/Bromley times to see if there's anything about it there.

skandi1 Thu 18-Apr-13 14:50:29

Yes it's worsley bridge. It's going to be come a full primary but not for another year. So until then the leftovers like my DD will be shunted in with the older ones.

I am sitting looking at Balgowans front entrance from my kitchen window. Grrrrr.

noramum Thu 18-Apr-13 14:52:25

Wow, which Junior is it? DD goes to an Infant with a Junior next door and I doubt they have space and there was nothing not even rumours.

Ladymuck Thu 18-Apr-13 14:54:27

There is still time for a lot of movement on waitlists between now and September. I live in the next borough, and in an area where children in my road regularly get turned down for all the local primary schools at this time of year, yet all get places at one of our closest schools by end July. If you think that private education will bankrupt you then wait it out. If 5 prep schools have places today, then at least one of them will have a space in September, but if you put down a deposit this week then be aware that you will be liable for the first terms fees if you get offered a place at your 1st choice state school next week.

littleducks Thu 18-Apr-13 15:02:59

I had this. I honestly think you should give it time, much easier said than done. People will refuse places and there is lots of movement.

The junior school thing won't be as bad as you are describing. They will make a new class or classes who will seperate from the juniors (in reception probably even for the majority if assemblies) and then as time goes by they will move up the school and the school will become a primary. If managed well it can work really nicely and the first yr group get lots of new resources (like a decent phonics based reading scheme rather than Ginn books from the 50s).

tiggytape Thu 18-Apr-13 15:08:15

That is very true littleducks. It looks like this restructuring has been properly planned and isn't just a knee jerk reaction to yesterday's admissions outcomes. Being the youngest children in new classrooms with new resources can work very well, the school looks pretty good already and a primary does have advantages over the Infant / Junior arrangement (no more admission stress for 7 years for a start!).
I think you said it is a 4 mile journey though which isn't so great but things really are likely to change a lot in the next month anyway.

pooka Thu 18-Apr-13 16:16:31

Balgowan to worsley bridge is about 2.2m.

I think in some respects it might work well - your dd will most likely be in a normal sized class, but possibly with extra adult contribution - so where some reception years share a TA between 2 classes, a class teacher and a TA will be solely responsible for one class.

Now books and resources. Money being chucked at school.

I have a couple of friends who have children who went to the junior school and did very well.

Plus, 7 year olds are really quite nice most of the time! Firstly they are hardly going to be learning together. In assemblies they will be sitting according to classes.

I'd wait and see what more information emerges about the structure and practicalities of the new set up.

skandi1 Thu 18-Apr-13 17:38:40

So far there is nothing set up. They were thinking of implementing this for 2014/15 but are doing it now instead.

I was told today by the leader of the bromley admissions team that I would be informed of the exact start date as it was unlikely the facilities would be ready for the start of the autumn term.

It doesn't sound promising.

It's actually further away than I thought. 2.5 miles so its a 5 mile round trip twice a day.

Now that we have the option of 5 prep schools, I feel more relaxed. At least we have a place at an actual school with a classroom and facilities.

skandi1 Thu 18-Apr-13 18:30:43

Sorry. If I was unclear. I was sent an email and later today a letter stating that at present they have no place available for DD but are working on it.

When I spoke to them I was told they are rushing around to make spaces available at this junior school. However it is by no means an offer and I was told this was out best/only hope of a space because of high demand.
I initially assumed this meant we'd be top of the waiting list. We are not. So there must be a lot of children around here with no offer.
And Pooky. I realise I said 4 miles away but actually I meant round trip.

I do wonder if we don't have a space and we are way down on waiting list whether someone has made some sort of error somewhere. Can it really be that oversubscribed?

pooka Thu 18-Apr-13 18:50:50

Definitely worth finding out the furthest distance each of your 6 schools has gone out in the first round, comparing this to your own distance, so you can see whether an error has been made. The admission team should be able to help you with this, and if you can demonstrate with any or as many of the schools as applicable that an error has been made, that would be grounds for appeal.

It does sound odd to me.

But I understand that Balgowan and Marion Vian for example are often oversubscribed. Others near to Balgowan include Churchfields, Bromley Road and Royston. Might be worth asking for your name to be put on waiting list for any that you didn't specify in the application?

I wonder whether the failure to provide any school place in time for your dd's normal start date of September would represent grounds for appeal? Might be worth going on one of the appeals threads here to see whether the appeal experts can advise.

When I applied for my eldest we only had three choices to specify and so I think maybe there were more examples of children not getting any of their choices, particularly in black spots. But when a child didn't get any of their three choices, they were always (among the people I know of) offered another currently existing school (albeit maybe an undersubscribed or less popular one). It's so worrying that this is happening - particularly as my understanding was that next year is a bit of a crunch year in terms of prospective pupils. Worrying times.

Hope you get something sorted quickly - fingers crossed. At least you have backup, but is a massive kcik in the teeth to have to do this.

If it's over 2 miles you may be entitled to funded transport.
Bear in mind that other parents may be going for the independent option having only got their 3rd choice and this will open up spaces for you.

tiggytape Thu 18-Apr-13 19:44:05

skandi1 - do check the distances but your situation in itself doesn't definitely indicate a mistake. If your closest few schools happen to be ones with tiny catchment areas, it is likely you live too far from any other schools to meet their distance criteria either so have no school you qualify for.
If, in addition,no other school in the area has a single place free (as seems to be the case if the council are bringing forward expansion plans by a whole year) it is correct that, at this stage, you have no place.

They must find one for you however. If dozens of people are in the same boat, 30 of them may qualify more than you do for this school 2 miles away as well. The council however must still find somewhere else for you to go.

If you had no offer at all (as opposed to one you don't want and decline) you could appeal on the grounds of a decision that is so unreasonable that it cannot be allowed to stand. Prh or admissions or Panel Chair would know the chances of such an appeal being won.
It is more than likely however more bulge classes will be opened up if the problem affects lots of people or the council will use emergency powers to force a school to take your child above numbers (the council chooses the school in this instance based on which would cope best). This is an absolute last resort though and it rarely comes to that.

JustOneMoreBite Thu 18-Apr-13 20:19:05

Balgowan were supposed to have a bulge class this year, weren't they? But looking at their website they decided at the end of Feb to defer it to next year (presumably after an outcry from current parents). I guess that means that Bromley were caught on the hop a bit with one less class than they thought they'd have.

pooka Thu 18-Apr-13 20:27:19

I wonder if because they are an academy they have more autonomy over scheduling of bulge classes. this is going to get much worse in coming years if that is the case as more and more schools academise.

skandi1 Thu 18-Apr-13 20:35:36

Tiggy. That is correct. An email and letter saying that they were unable to offer a place. When I spoke to them and asked them what would be done about it, they explained that they were speeding up their expansion programme at worsley bridge junior school and shortly would be able to offer those who hadn't qualified with a space there. In other words, once they have placed a couple of temporary buildings on the site of that school they will be in a position to offer a space.

As you say, we may actually be too far away to qualify given the situation.

I researched and applied to the 6 closest schools. All are well under a mile from home.

I am hoping some people will give up their offers and go for the independent schools but its a bit of a wing and prayer.

It may be as you say that I live in some sort of Bermuda Triangle for school places.

Essentially they are working on finding a place for us and the letter said they will be in contact with an "update" after 20th of May or sooner if a space becomes available.

I know I live in a London borough and schools provision is tight. And I know I have sounded like a moany whiny spoilt child here in MN today but I was genuinely taken aback. And quite pissed off that the local authority's reassurance and "backup" plan is to shove my pfb into a temporary building with children twice her age.

Sorry. I know lots of people are much worse off and this is a real elitist first world problem. Thanks all of you for your suggestions and hand holding. It's helped a lot. Thanks for listening. smile

BananaPie Thu 18-Apr-13 20:44:47

Good luck skandi1 - I don't think you've been whiny, just understandably upset. I hope it all works out, I'm sure it will. We live in the same area as you, although we're a couple of years behind you as DD has only just turned 2.

Does anyone know whether Bromley still publishes admissions distances for the previous year? They used to be on their website, but don't seem to be there anymore (trying to plan ahead to work out how to hedge our bets!)

ohforfoxsake Thu 18-Apr-13 20:51:08

You haven't been whiney at all! It's incredibly stressful at this stage - especially when it's your first.

I'm surprised at Bromley - how any LEA can be so under-prepared is beyond me. It seems to have taken them by surprise confused

Do keep us updated - we're rooting for you smile

JustOneMoreBite Thu 18-Apr-13 20:52:23

Yes, good luck, skandi1 - we're in Shortlands and just squeaked into our third choice - without that we'd probably have been in the same boat as you as everywhere else would have been hopeless.

BananaPie - admissions distances are published in the admissions booklet. Next year's won't come out til sometime in the Autumn, but this year's is here (from page 40): www.bromley.gov.uk/downloads/file/1433/starting_primary_education_in_bromley_2013_booklet

SE13Mummy Thu 18-Apr-13 21:23:49

So sorry to hear that your DD hasn't been offered a Reception place at all - it's a horrid situation to be in.

We're in Lewisham, so not far from you. Four years ago DD1 was offered a place at a school that was about 2 miles away (our first choice, where she was at nursery was 650m from us) but, thanks to the positioning of trainlines, would have taken about an hour to walk to. The alternative was to catch two buses which wouldn't have been feasible come September as DD2 would be three months old and getting prams/buggies on buses for the school 'run' is a nightmare. Childcare once I returned to work (as a teacher) from maternity leave would have been impossible; no childminder within walking distance of our home would consider a drop-off etc at our allocated school.

So, my initial response was to cry lots but then to keep my fingers crossed that Bexley borough would come up trumps - this was before all the boroughs were fully in sync - and that DD1 would be offered a place at a school more than 5 miles away but opposite the secondary that DH teaches at. Meanwhile, I rejected the Lewisham school and said I'd defer entry until DD1 reached statutory school age (the term after her 5th birthday which, for her, was January 2010). This confused the admissions team hmm as did most legalities associated with admissions or so it seemed so I told them to tick the 'home school' box and to put DD1 on the waiting list for every one of the 17 schools that was closer to us than the allocated one.

Bexley did come up trumps and DD1 was offered a place 5.something miles away which we accepted, whilst remaining on the waiting lists of 17 schools. Weekly phonecalls to the admissions team eventually resulted in the news that DD1 could be offered a place at our closest community school which, although it wasn't where we wanted her to be at all, it was local and do-able. At that point we accepted that place and contacted Bexley to turn down theirs.

Fast forward to September and DD1 starts Reception at our closest school. She is 10th on the waiting list for the school where I teach/she was at nursery. Weekly phonecalls continue.

By December she is 3rd on the waiting list for 'my school'. I learn that a child in Reception is moving to another very local school as the result of fraudulent behaviour by a parent whose child was due to start in January. I ring admissions with the name of the moving child and ask where that puts us on the waiting list. I even ask about the January-intake child who is currently being assessed for a statement of SEN and whose parents want to name 'my school' in the statement i.e. that child jumps the waiting list. Cue enormous cock up by the LA who tell me that they will be offering the place to DD1 as that child can be admitted as an 'excepted pupil'. I immediately e-mail and seek written response that DD1 will be offered place officially.

January 2010 arrives and I receive a phone call from 'my school' advising that the LA have over offered the vacancy - not only has it been offered to DD1 and the child with a statement but also now to the child with the fraudulent parent. 1 vacancy but 3 children to fill it so the LA want to withdraw DD1's place angry even though the fraudulent parent hasn't actually provided the evidence required for a priority place at 'my school'.

In the end, DD1 started back at 'my school', rejoining her nursery friends, rather rapidly - the second day of term instead of the original plan which was for her to do two days at the local school (to say goodbye properly and for coat pegs etc. to be set up at 'my school') - so that she had started before the January intake home visits happened/children started. Eventually the LA admitted DD1 as the child filling the vacancy, the child with the statement as an 'excepted pupil' and the child of the fraudulent parent as an 'excepted pupil' too. By the end of Reception the child with a statement had moved to a special school and the LGO overturned the ruling that fraudulent parent's child should lose a school place that had been obtained fraudulently shock so that child moved to the other very local school.

It was hellish and I sympathise with you trying to navigate the ins and outs of how to secure a place that's workable longterm and shorterm, for the whole family. What I would say is, this is London: there is a massive amount of movement both on waiting lists and within the schools themselves. Accept whatever apparently madcapped scheme that Bromley offer and contact them weekly for an update on where your DD is on the many waiting lists she is on. You will probably receive 6 depressing letters that state 'you applied for XX school but we could not offer you a place. The furthest place offered was 30cm and you live 92.5cm away as measured by our special triangulation system that isn't the same as Google maps or anything you can get your hands on'.

As Bromley measure proximity 'in a straight line from home to school' doublecheck that they are using 'as the crow flies' rather than 'by safest walking route' then borrow a trundle wheel* and measure the distance from your front door/boundary to the front entrance of Balgowan. Last year's furthest place was approx. 482m and, although that is not an indication of what this year's will be (one year it was 161m) it might make you feel better to know they haven't made up the numbers/to spot a mistake!

*I'll bring one home from school if you need it smile.

Good luck with it all.

SE13Mummy Thu 18-Apr-13 21:29:15

Sorry my post was so long blush.

Meant to say, DD2 is eligible to start Reception in September...she'll be 4 and a quarter. Her big sister will be very nearly 9 and, although it's an age gap I wouldn't have chosen, it's a great one. The Reception children at the Junior school will be spoiled rotten by the Y3s who will be thrilled not to be 'small fish in a big pond'.

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