Been offered brand new free school or last choice

(428 Posts)
Lazymama2 Wed 16-Apr-14 16:35:03

We're not sure what to do as have been offered a place at a brand new school which is with walking distance but has not been 'fitted out' yet (buildings are there). There is very little concrete info on term dates, start and finish times, curriculum and obviously no past performance on which to base a decision. Also no older kids to look up to. Other school is our last choice and has improved from satisfactory to good. DH does not want Dd to go to this school and would prefer private. I, on the other hand, quite like idea of a brand new school.

Thoughts/ideas anyone?

PS please dont turn this into a debate of state vs. private as I believe every parent does what is best for thier child/family circumstances and im not for/against one or the other.

Sunnymummy73 Tue 18-Oct-16 18:10:33

Lazymama2 & Totalshables, I would love to hear an update on this thread.
I am applying for the 2017 intake and find myself in similar circumstances. We live in another area in London, and despite living less than 500m from our nearest Primary and within 1.5k of another 5 we are highly unlikely to get offered a place in any of them. The only local alternative is an undersubscribed free school, set up in temporary premises in September 2015. If we decline this offer we would have to find an undersubscribed school in the neighbouring borough.
I wonder if you had any luck appealing? Any advice would be much appreciated.

Totalshambles Sun 25-Sep-16 10:56:55

I went along to visit for the second time before the April deadline for applications.

I was assured a new school building would be ready by September. Now I am no builder but these seemed very optimistic to me. I asked what the back up plan would be in the event the work was delayed and I was shut down with a (slightly aggressive) 'it won't be delayed". " I understand thats the plan now" I said " but sometimes it happens that things take longer for unforeseen reasons...then what will you do?". The response "it won't take longer". That was enough for me. To have no contingency plan (or at least to refuse to discuss them) was enough to convince me that it wasn't the school for us.

I also asked what safety precautions were being taken for the kids given that they were spending their days on a building site and was told "none are needed". Maybe that's right, maybe they have taken medical/expert advice and that's correct but as a concerned prospective parent they could have told me that. Their abrupt and defensive answers turned me off completely.

I am not Nlondondad. I don't know Nlondondad. But he is being hounded for making sensible points that aren't being answered. I understand that the parents who are already there feel defensive about the school but people just want honest answers to questions when making decisions about where to send their kids.

It was obvious the building wouldn't be ready for September. It would have been sensible to have anticipated this openly and discussed it - preparing children and adults (those at the school and prospective families) in good time.

LocalMummyPerson Sun 25-Sep-16 09:53:07

Is the new school building expected to be completed on schedule? Am thinking about local school options. Thanks.

MumN8 Sat 23-Jul-16 13:28:02

Thanks Parentz2, I also have to add the school has been nothing but honest and transparent about the asbestos and possible move to the new site and as parents we are very grateful for this!

As a parent it's instinctive to want to protect your children and that includes the school they go to, so when people like nlondondad/what1984 has a clear objection to the school and uses scare monger tactics to put people off from choosing WPS, then yes as a parent I would want it to stop.

Was I involved in this so called ‘whistle blowing’ – NO!
Do I support it - Absolutely!

Whitehall Park is a fantastic school, the curriculum is imaginative and inspiring, the teaching methods are effective and the after school clubs are varied and easy to get into! The teachers and head teacher go beyond what is expected and my children have had amazing opportunity’s to go to The London Zoo, Greenwich Observatory, The Science Museum, Little Angel Theatre, The Natural History Museum, The Cinema, …. They have had experiences of Royal Banquets, Science Day, Art Day, Brazilian Carnivals, Mathstastic Day, Games Day, Summer Fetes, Winter Wonderland, and all this from a couple of porta cabins on what is effectively a building site.
– It’s been absolutely incredible!

parentz2 Fri 22-Jul-16 21:19:39

The asbestos was in the old building that has gone a while back already . It was not hidden from us, I was told directly from the head,however there was some confusion about the length it took to get the asbestos cleared and at parents request a meeting was held where the different options were explained and parents took an active part of being influential as much as was possible.

We knew about the possibility of a different site but this could not be told officially by the head because even the Bishops approval was needed,yes the Bishop.

There have been times where it has been the parents requesting more information from the school and the school have not had all the information. However there are a lot of parties involved included ISHA, Islington Council, the Trust and Department of Education and the school's focus was continuing to run a school while trying to deal with all the building issues.

Paperm0ver Fri 22-Jul-16 18:42:34

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Paperm0ver Fri 22-Jul-16 18:35:00

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Impendingdoom Fri 22-Jul-16 18:13:25

I am genuinely a parent of a child who might apply for this school next year. I've been to visit, and to the summer fete. And spoken to the teachers, who seemed nice and committed, and seen lots of happy kids and contributing parents.
However the story about the asbestos and trying to silence nlondondad, even if you do find him annoying, worries me. Please can those of you with children at the school tell us what you were told about the asbestos, and what has reassured you that it is OK? And do you feel you've been kept well informed about the building and move? At the fete one of the teachers told me one date which was different to the date that came out a couple of days later, and I thought the newsletter making the temporary location out to be an exciting secret was patronising ( unless in practise parents have already been told)

parentz2 Fri 22-Jul-16 15:43:58

I've had a brief search and it seems that nlondondad stopped writing in April 2016 and since then it's all what1984. Also what I noticed is that this person gives really great insight into so many schools, both the positive and negative BUT when it comes to WPS this person has nothing good to say, not one positive comment. So while other schools get a fair view our school has been slated at any possible chance. But Nlondondad or what1984 has never stepped a foot inside the school, has not spoken to parents or teachers yet absolutely seems to detest the existence of the school, I can not fathom why a person would have such a hatred towards something they are not part of.

So here are some more personal experiences. When we arrive at school the teachers are there, smiling, preparing for the day and working hard, the same when we leave school. The office has been moved 3 times, resulting in days of extra work for staff, working after hours because the Internet was down, and all on top of their normal work and still they keep smiling, working hard and giving the pupils a great experience. I go to work, come back and pick my child up and these teachers are still working. Every teachers job is difficult but being in temporary accommodation and having moved and come back from school holidays early to reset up again, makes their jobs that much harder. So I want to acknowledge here their hard work and dedication.

Some of the children's experiences that I refer to are two outings a term, a Brazilian carnival, a Royal Banquet, a 2 day willow workshop, a work experience week where children heard from different parents and people in the community about their jobs, a games day to name some..

Another area that is exceptional at the school is parent involvement. We had a parent write and publish a book with our children, run drumming workshops, tun sessions around RE, and every Friday is Fantastic Friday, when parents come and read with their child and friends in class.

So nlondondad or what1984 before you go ahead and tear our school apart again in this forum, be fair and give your opinion about both the good and negative aspects as you do about every other school you comment on. You have a huge range of experience and knowledge it seems, so I am sure you can see that our school must have some positives as well. smile

MumN8 Thu 21-Jul-16 18:19:06

Interesting idea parentz2 could what1984 be nlondondad posting links to a blog by David Barry (who can't confirm or deny he his nlondondad)

Now that is creepy!!

parentz2 Thu 21-Jul-16 16:31:19

I have a child already at WPS. I feel a lot of the recent comments about the school are coming from parents who are not at the school eg: the way Maths is taught, wrap around care, building updates and so it may be helpful for those parents wondering what is going on to hear from a person who is at the school. HOWEVER it would be much more beneficial to contact the school directly to get an answer on for example wrap around care or the curriculum and methods taught.

But very briefly, there is wrap around care for year 1 and year 2 pupils from the start.
The school could not announce anything officially until been given permission from a number of parties involved.
Moving offsite is not ideal but my children will be fine with this. We have explained the situation, the school has explained it to them and there are a lot of positives that we have to look forward to at the new site for example the the amazing facilities. So it depends on how you view it and we are choosing to see this as an exciting new venture and experience that our children can grow from.

It is day one of the holidays and my child is sad to be on holiday- that says a lot.

An idea- nlondondad has disappeared and what1984 is on this thread posting things to do with nlondondondad- I have a hunch that this is the same person?

Paperm0ver Mon 18-Jul-16 23:41:19

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LocalMummyPerson Mon 18-Jul-16 09:25:24

And I'd like to third, that that letter linked to above is creepy

LocalMummyPerson Mon 18-Jul-16 09:20:04

Having dipped in and out of this thread for a couple of years, it feels like someone is somehow only 'playing at' running a school here.

Today's Monday and the summer term ends this Wednesday.
Parents still don't know where the school will be housed for the whole of the Autumn term (not from Oct as that article says)!
That's the parents of 3 x two-form year groups, ie 180 kids all trying to make alternative travel and childcare plans for one (?) term before (hopefully) being able to move into the new building back at the current portacabins site (former Ashmount school) site in Jan 2017.

I'm shocked that this huge issue isn't placed front and centre on the school website, both for current parents and the prospective reception parents who have applied based on the current location.

Which by then will still have a new building site on it, building flats on the old Ashmount playground site where the whitehall park portacabins currently are sited.. (Whitehall park's playground will be built up on the roof of their new build school). So even once the school building is ready there will still be months of building work going on adjacent to it. WPS are obviously not in charge of building the flats on 'their' site, hence having to move out- not moving so builders can build their new school but moving so flats can be built on the old Ashmount playground.

I am a working parent dependent on paid childcare, and if my DC were already at the school or were starting reception this Sept I couldn't make proper local childcare arrangements based on this level of uncertainty. Especially not with potentially the families of up to 180 DC locally also doing the same thing. I'd have to find another school.

I looked through the Whitehall Park School website trying to find out more information about this huge issue. Nothing mentioned that I can see and (I'm sure entirely coincidentally) the emailed newsletter from the Head dated 11 July containing the information I have (ie the fact there will be a move for Autumn term and that the temporary location is not yet known..) has NOT been placed on the school website for public view. But all the other newsletters are there. grin (it's the 18th July today, the 'latest issue' of the school newsletter flagged on website is 27 June..hmm)

WPS can't realistically confirm on their after school care places before the new venue for the school is known, so it's creating a catch 22 that unless you have helpful local grandparents, or you can afford not to work and can cover pick ups yourself from wherever, or if you have a nanny or an au pair in which case you're the boss so they can change between two locations then what do you do? A childminder (much cheaper round here) doesn't have that flexibility to vary school location drop/pick up as they work out of their own home and they take kids from various different families each day.

I wonder whether their reception year will be smaller this year or any kids are having to find a different school for yr 1 or 2 because of this?

Vinorosso74 Wed 13-Jul-16 18:30:56

Just read this which reminded me of this thread!

Paperm0ver Fri 08-Jul-16 08:53:28

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MumN8 Fri 08-Jul-16 08:36:23

I have twins in reception at Whitehall Park and have been very impressed with the way they teach reading and writing.

My children could barely write their names when they started and thanks to the tireless effort of the teachers they both can read fluently and write sentences, despite being summer babies.

It's a brilliant school and my children are very happy!

Paperm0ver Tue 28-Jun-16 10:18:43

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Impendingdoom Mon 27-Jun-16 23:19:19

That is creepy.
The question for me is how do the complainants think they are helping the school by doing this?
We need to decide this year whether to put the school down as one of our choices, and I'm not comfortable doing that unless I have a clear answer to:
What risks were there to pupils from asbestos removal and how were they avoided?
Where did this challenge to nlondondad come from?
As I don't want to send my child to a school where threats are considered an acceptable alternative to clear communication of risk...If there is no risk, they have no reason not to communicate

Paperm0ver Sun 26-Jun-16 23:01:37

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

What1984 Sun 26-Jun-16 19:47:05

I had been wondering why nlondondad seemed to have stopped contributing.

I also wondered - posted 5 May - why no Whitehall Park people had posted since the posts about asbestos and funny money.

Then I saw this:


LocalMummyPerson Sat 25-Jun-16 11:43:40

There doesn't seem to be anything been put on the website for public view hmm but there is an emailed message from the school if you are already on their mailing list summarising the meeting.

Basically they hope to have use of a new school building in the January 2017 term and in meantime what will happen seems unclear to me.

Whitehall park school have to hand over a good part of the present land footprint used for the portacabinned school, to the developers for the new housing block being built on to it in July.

So plans for where/what the Autumn terms accommodation for the 3 year groups R, yr1, yr2 will be seems still uncertain.

What1984 Wed 22-Jun-16 18:46:29

Did anyone get to the meeting at the school that was due to be held last night? Any news?

LocalMummyPerson Wed 01-Jun-16 21:52:10

Thanks What

What1984 Mon 30-May-16 15:59:10

On the local residents association for Whitehall Park the following notice has just appeared.

"WPS Building Update

Because the demolition of the old school buildings has been held up by unexpected site conditions, plans for Whitehall Park School to hand over buildings in September is likely to be delayed. Consequently WPS have arranged a meeting where representatives from the School, BPET, EFA and ExtraSpace Solutions will be on hand to provide an update. Tuesday 21st June, 7pm at the School. "

You can see the original on

Which has a link to the latest school newsletter.

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