Primary-school places shortfall: what's happening where you live?

(217 Posts)
HelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 15-Mar-13 10:16:39


It's headline news today that one in five primary schools are now full or near capacity.

And, with 240,000 new primary-school places needed for 2014, the National Audit Office is saying the Department of Education "faces a real challenge... there are indications of strain on school places".

We were wondering how you all feel about this? Do you have a child due to start primary school in September? Are you aware of a shortage of places in your area? What steps are your local council taking to make school places available to all those who need one?

Please do let us know.

ThePskettiIncident Fri 15-Mar-13 10:57:54

Rural area. Main primary school is oversubscribed by more than a class size and the village primaries are also becoming very full. Very difficult for travel to the villages, as local bus services have been cut severely. Also, there's a list of over 100 small primaries in the county threatened with closure as their size is not economically viable. For example, schools must have own broadband provider/supply but the cost is over £20k, so the school has to make a teacher redundant to pay for the Internet!

Situation is pretty dire and the vast majority of schools are church schools, so for atheist or non religious families there is no choice at all.

GreatGooglyMoogly Fri 15-Mar-13 11:10:03

We live near the centre of a small city. Both DC are at school already but when applying for DC1 we applied in order of location to our home (apart from religious schools) and didn't get any of our 3 choices as they all only took one class (30 children) per year and siblings took most of the places. It seems that 2003/4 was the first baby boom year locally and most of the primary schools have expanded as much as they can to accommodate the children, plus we have a new city centre free school (as the biggest problem was lack of places in the city centre). My big question is what about secondary schools? No one seems to have thought about expanding/ building new secondaries to accommodate the baby boom children who will start in September next year. Meanwhile a new housing estate has been built!

WorraLiberty Fri 15-Mar-13 11:15:13

Well I'm a governor at my local Primary - East London/Essex boarder and all the schools here are bursting at the brim.

What the council seem to be doing, is cramming more and more children into the schools we already have.

When my school was built (approx 90 years ago) it was designed to accommodate one class per year. It's bang in the middle of a residential area, so the whole playground is surrounded by the back gardens of the local houses.

Fast forward to now and there are 4 classes per year...and 5 classes in year 2 because the LA begged and pleaded with us to take an extra class load and put them in a portable classroom in the school's garden.The school now has around 940 children and is one of the largest Primaries in London.

What the Council fail to understand is that cramming so many children into a small school, affects their quality of life. The playgrounds are so packed that often they cannot run around. The gates had to be widened because parents and toddlers were literally being crushed as everyone tried to enter/leave the school together. Despite lunchtimes being staggered, the 2 tiny dining halls cannot accommodate everyone at lunchtime and children are having to eat packed lunches in classrooms/the playground...and don't even start me on all the traffic in the surrounding residential streets.

So what are they doing about it now that they can no longer shoehorn any more children in? They're wringing their hands about building new schools on the edges of the local parks. This idea was proposed around 3 years ago and as yet, not a single decision has been made.

Meanwhile, the demand for schools is increasing at an alarming rate due to the cheaper housing in this area.

ds attends a suburban infants with a good reputation. The schools here are probably the only thing that adds £10k min on house prices compared to one locally.

Though people worry more about catchments at comp level. This is likely because primary now takes 3 classes per year group with 50% coming from out of area. There are a handful of places left but not many. We are in catchment area so it doesn't worry me. 90 children per year wouldn't suit every 5 year old though.

jowebs Fri 15-Mar-13 11:24:31

I live in a town on Teesside and there doesn't seem to be any problem getting in to primary schools here. Several children have left my son's class over the past year and have gone straight into other schools in the town. As far as I am aware there are no waiting lists.

tethersend Fri 15-Mar-13 11:34:51

I'm in tower hamlets, where the council have doubled the intake of one school by opening an annexe on another site and introduced catchment areas with nearest alternative school as a tie breaker.

DD is due to start in September, so it will be interesting to see how the cards fall with the new system.

williaminajetfighter Fri 15-Mar-13 11:35:57

Surely these stats must be incorrect. I would guess the figure would be 4 out of 5 schools not 1 out of 5.

Talk to any teacher about growing class size and talk to any parent about the challenges of trying to get into their local school (or see all the threads on mumsnet).

I truly think our government is drunk or swimming through treacle as, like so many things, they are aware but doing nothing about it.

Gigondas Fri 15-Mar-13 11:40:20

I live in Richmond - situation is very like that in Essex described below and now Feeding into the secondary school provision.they are adding bulge classes (2 were added after admissions this year) and consulting on extra places (250 per year shortfall this year ). consultation here

Tbh it's a mess and I think councils previous reliance on transfer to private sector is not sustainable as economic downturn and sheer number of kids means it can't be something can rely on now.

Skimty Fri 15-Mar-13 11:42:21

All the local authorities seem to be doing when they add a bulge classes is adding a classroom but not thinking about the additional stress on resources such as school halls, libraries, sports facilities. No more new houses should be built in an area unless there are properly resourced school places imo. Equally, if you are going to realistically take a bulge class every year then the head needs to bite the bullet and apply to properly expand the school. (Quick question: do Primary schools all have to be on one level or could you have two story buildings for upper primary freeing up space)

There needs to be a lot more joined up thinking. As it stands this year thanks to the change in admission criteria several people I know are likely to have children at two different schools which means that rather than walking they will drive in order to get to two places at once with knock on effects on traffic/parking issues.

Why we are throwing money at academies/ free schools when we need this kind of investment baffles me

lynniep Fri 15-Mar-13 11:45:30

Our primaries are generally oversubsribed (we have two in our small town) Fortunately we are lucky year before last (for DS1) as whilst we didnt get our first choice, we got our second as we are both in catchment and quite close to the school. Our catchment school is one-class-per-year.

It was massively oversubscribed however, but due to a co*k up by the LA, they had to admit extra pupils. (They mis-advertised a catchment road) This took them over the maximum numbers and they were forced to split his year only in to two year classes. So far this has worked out well, although it causes headaches every academic year wrt teaching staff.

Luckily, because of this turn of events, there were places for everyone. Many children were originally allocated the next school on the list #3 which is in the next town, and a sink school (level 4). This as you can imagine, outraged many parents, particularly with children already at #1 and #2.

Last year was not oversubscribed however. This year I have no idea.

notcitrus Fri 15-Mar-13 11:47:55

I live in Lambeth. Highest birth rate and immigration rates in the country I'm told, plus many of the people who would have moved out to the Home Counties haven't been able to.

To be fair to the council, they have added at least 20 extra classes and about 6 new schools in the last 5 years. But it's not enough. If ds had been 2 years older, there was a huge shortage of places in our area. Now, luckily, my 3 nearest schools have added an extra class permanently though one isn't confirmed.

But ask again in a few weeks once places are announced! It makes a mockery of school choice or preference as I've had to put down the nearest 6 that may take a child of non-religious parents. He will probably go to a CofE school which I wouldn't have chosen but is a good school and aims to reflect the community so only half the places are reserved for Christians.

It would make more sense if non-religious families were prioritised for non-religious schools so they had equal choices.

I'm just thankful to be applying this year rather than next when 200 new homes will be finished, nearer my nearest school than I am.

WorraLiberty Fri 15-Mar-13 11:51:45

Skimty they don't have to be on one level.

But in the case of our school, the foundations wouldn't allow building upwards...and then there's still the problem of playground/lunch hall over crowding.

Snowme Fri 15-Mar-13 11:59:09

How much does it cost to build one primary school?

I suspect a lot less than the £2 million some town councils spend each year on 'The Arts' facilities only a small minority of residents utilise. Like, commissioning a contemporary designed statue to plonk on a street that's ugly and meaningless but cost just shy of £900,000. They could buy a plot of land and build a school with that amount, surely.

There's plenty corn in the coffers for new schools we are unaware of.

Anyway, as someone with a daughter on the In Year Admission waiting list, I was briefly hopeful class sizes might be lifted..

nailak Fri 15-Mar-13 12:00:32

30 0ver flow classes in the borough, compared to an average of 8 in other boroughs,

I live near Worra, but I think she lives in the next borough. I had a friend living near her whose son wasnt offered a reception place, but some sort of group for kids who didnt have a school place a couple of times a week. She sent him out of the country to school in Kenya with her mum until a school place became available.

Our local infant and separate junior schools have both turned in to primaries with playgrounds on the roof.

My dds school has staggered break and lunch times.

I am also worried about the changes to funding of nursery places to 2 year olds in my borough which would mean 40% of children aged 2 are eligible for 15 hours, but where are the places? also the available places do not fit around older childrens timetables, as in the nurseries offer 5 hours 3 days a week instead of 3 hours 5 days a week.

WorraLiberty Fri 15-Mar-13 12:11:19

Yes nailak if I remember rightly, I'm in the next borough along.

<< Stands on roof and waves >> grin

RustyBear Fri 15-Mar-13 12:14:24

Snowme - it cost our school over £100,000 three years ago to add a classroom sized library to our primary school - that's just the shell added to an existing building, no land costs, no services to sort out, no equipment etc.

kissyfur Fri 15-Mar-13 12:23:57

How depressing, my DD1 is due to start school in 2014, the choice of schools near us isn't good, and now it seems they are going to be over crowded too! Hopeless government, when will they actually start helping the people?!

Oodsigma Fri 15-Mar-13 12:27:28

My town is ok but where I work there was real problems last year and catchments were getting smaller meaning people were passing a couple of schools to get to ones with places. Lots of these were from housing estates that were getting expanded too.

Bramshott Fri 15-Mar-13 12:31:51

Just for balance, we're in the home counties and the schools in and around our town are NOT generally full and people can move between schools easily. You might not always get your first choice of school (particularly if you're applying from out of catchment) but there will be a school place for you. Most of the classes at my DDs school are smaller than 30.

unebagpipe Fri 15-Mar-13 12:35:49

I live in a very suburban 'home-counties' town near gatwick within commuting distance of London. It is a baby breeding ground due to location.

Local councils insisting that schools have additional classrooms (read portacabins). I know a local governor who says that for next academic year not enough places for all reception children locally. Even the independents are over- subscribed!

The local authority has tried to find alternative sites but afaik level of public opposition waged against the proposed sites was excessive. People don't want the traffic and disruption near them.

Very very stressful. Think the education system is at melting point.

Fillyjonk75 Fri 15-Mar-13 12:41:15

Rural area. Parish cunts council are opposing the expansion of the school (needed to accomodate/improve facilities for existing children, not just due to the additional children) because the school is the font of all evil causing parking problems apparently (not the commuters using the free village car park all day instead of the station one, oh no).

BeCool Fri 15-Mar-13 12:48:38

West London - you have to live within 300 meters of DD's school to get in! It's small (one class per year) and has no room physically for expansion.

Most other schools in the area are much much bigger. I feel lucky to get her in there - but we need to move (need 2 bed flat) and I'm worried about changing schools as the one she has is so so lovely - much different to how the media portrays primary schools.

JaquelineHyde Fri 15-Mar-13 12:48:39

Large south east town here.

We moved here last August and none of our 3 children could get school places within the town.

Yr3 DD was out of school until November.
Yr2 DS was out of school until February (the week before half term) and
Yr1 DD was out of school until this week!!

They are now split between 2 schools and school runs are an utter nightmare.

We were offered a place for them all at a school in a different town that we had no way to get to and also happens to be a failing school that is in special measures.

The situation here is appaling and the county council are doing nothing about it!

spiderlight Fri 15-Mar-13 12:52:56

Our school has created an extra Reception/Y1 class this year because of an oversubscribed Reception year, moving six of the Y1 kids, three each into two R/Y1 classes. The parents of Y1 kids who have been moved are NOT happy and the children themselves don't seem to be getting the extra support and benefits that they were promised when this solution was sold to them and several have found the move very upsetting. The straight Y1 children now have a much smaller class but have also been put into a much smaller classroom, and they seem to have lost a TA for at least some of the week. The playground is absolutely packed.

lljkk Fri 15-Mar-13 12:56:17

Rural East Anglia, Only very rarely oversubbed. Not even at high school age.

mumofthemonsters808 Fri 15-Mar-13 12:56:38

Huge problem in Tameside, Gtr Manchester, gone are the days when you were guaranteed to get your child into the local primary up the road.It is also difficult to register with a Doctor and Dentist, too few resources for too many people.

Asheth Fri 15-Mar-13 12:57:47

We are in a largish SW town and DC3 is due to start primary this September. Hopefuly at the school my older DC currantly attend.

When DS1 started school he was in a class of 23. But over the years this school has become increasingly oversubscribed. Last year the majority of the places were taken by siblings of existing pupils. Hopefully my DS will get a place due to sibling priority.

I don't know what the council are doing about rising numbers. But when DS1 started school they were trying to close a local school due to low numbers...

Waspie Fri 15-Mar-13 13:00:59

I live in an affulent Berkshire borough and there is just one available space for a reception aged child in the entire borough.

My son started reception in 2012 but didn't get into his catchment school, or any of the other 8 schools nearest to us. He is now in a "bulge" class at a primary 5 miles away. The council had to have 3 bulge classes this year and will need at least 3 in 2013 (council prediction that at least 90 children will not get placed locally in 2013)

A group of parents like me (including me!) are currently in the process of trying to get a free school set up in our area. We have an education partner and have had our interview with the Dept. of Ed. It seems that the council don't give a toss. They are more than happy to sell off every last bit of greenery in the borough to build yet more houses on and yet haven't made any provision for where the children of these new residents are going to be schooled. Also three members of the planning committee are property developers hmm but apparently this isn't a conflict of interest- yeah right. Makes me so angry angry

knitcorner Fri 15-Mar-13 13:06:46

Also in Lambeth here and panicking a year early for a 2014 place. I can't believe the figures now of 250k reception kids in 2014 will not get a school place. It's not like it's a suprise to anyone that all these kids exist, we knew about the baby boom in 2009/10 when they were born, how did the government believe that all these kids were going to be educated?!

We have absolutely no choice about which school ds will go to. Our closest school is 700m and we won't get in, the schools further away, have lower ofsted grades and we still won't get in. If we 'lucky' we might be offered a place at a school in special measures where parents stab each other in the classroom in front of kids.

So our choice is stabby school or cripple ourselves financially to go private.

Blu Fri 15-Mar-13 13:08:57

Lambeth were in crisis a few years ago, and have actually, as far as I can see, acted quite effectively since then - a brand new two-form entry primary is opening near us in September, on the site of a well-regarded secondary, to be an 'all through school'. Meanwhile another local primary is having a new building and is part of a federation which is increasing the number of places. They have opened 2 secondaries (that I know of - Elmgreen and Evelyn Grace) ) in the last 6 years, and have another opening in September.

But as NotCitrus says, the new places may soon be taken up.

The standard of education in Lambeth schools has been rising, I think it was one of the boroughs recently revealed as a place where you had the highest chance of your child being in an 'Outstanding' school. Certainly the ones near us are excellent and very popular. But this, coupled with the financial cllimate, has stemmed the flow of children into private schools and put more pressure on places.

In neighbouring Southwark the Free School phenomenum is resulting in no less than TWO bi-lingual English / German primaries opening not far over the border from all fine there as long as you are happy to choose between faith or bilingual German. No particular reason for the German except that that is the interest and expertise of the guy who started it, and they believe that bilingual edcuation per se is a good thing. With which I agree, but wouldn't have chosen German. Such is the random nature of Free Schools. That is in an area of schools shortages , too.

There is high immigration and migration in Lambeth, but very little employment. I wonder how many recent EU migrants will stay long term in Lambeth. House prices and rentals are rising, and in short supply.

Blu Fri 15-Mar-13 13:11:33

x-posted with KnitCorner - based on your comments about stabby parents, I wonder if the new classes at the new all-through school might be in your general area? wink Those classes will probably ease up the catchments of the surrounding primaries, and maybe spread N of the S Circular?

Blu Fri 15-Mar-13 13:13:13

And stabby school is being re-opened under a federation that has transformed other schools beyond recognition.

Fingers crossed for you. PM me if you like.

marssparklesdownonme Fri 15-Mar-13 13:15:21

I work in a 210 place primary school. Four of our nearby schools were forced to put on an extra reception class this year. We were told that this was a one year only solution. However I have my own suspicion that that is NOT true and we will be asked to do the same this year. It meant we had to have a large mobile put on our already diminished field. We now have no room for a proper sports day or football pitch etc. There are also issues regarding extra children in the playground- kids need room to play and if there's no space to run around ,this causes problems too.
Serious money and thought has to be put into this issue because in seven years time there's going to be even more of a hooha about secondary places than at present.They need to start planning for that now. Education authorities get numbers from the health authorities re birth rates etc so can't complain they don't know what is happening.

TeamEdward Fri 15-Mar-13 13:17:21

SE seaside town, massive deprivation but pretty good schools.
DS1 has a place in our nearest school (Yr3) but DS2 is still waiting for a Reception place. He's gone from being 18th to 1st on the list but we have been waiting 9 months now. He may or may not get a place in his brother's school for Year 1. Neither the school nor the council is willing to commit.
No other local school (apart from the one with razor wire around the perimeter) have places.

Miggsie Fri 15-Mar-13 13:18:10

West London here - almost every primary now has a bulge class, soon the juniors will follow suit and I suppose, then the secondaries. Apparently there are officially out of primary places and won't have any secondary places left by 2015.

Haven't built a school in 25 years round here - they do have one exisitng old building that is reopening as a school, but that's 30 places and 240 still not placed.

Next door borough is building a multistorey primary with an 8 form intake - that would be my definition of hell.

The independents are all full or close to full, we have gone private, though ironically we could not afford to buy a house within catchment of the nearest outstanding state primaries - £600,000 for a 3 bed house? Not many can afford that, yet still the schools are over subscribed so I assume someone can.

I also noticed the only proposed new schools are religious ones round here - so unless you have religion or money you don't have much choice.

turkeyboots Fri 15-Mar-13 13:18:48

Suburban Swindon here. LA is looking to build a new 2 form entry class for Sept. On top of the extra classes most of the local school took on over the last few years. It is crazy.

But they are so distracted with the acutal crisis in primary, they are not planning secondary places for all these kids. Aiming to build a new school in 2018 which means 3 years with an estimated 200 kids plus each year with no secondary place.....

PanicMode Fri 15-Mar-13 13:25:28

We live in an affluent town in the South East which is often a target for those moving out of London, and every single primary is massively oversubscribed. There isn't a single Year 1 place in the town at the current time, and some which have taken bulge classes in previous years, have now gone back to their original PANs for September, meaning that every place will go to siblings this year. Over 80 children in the town last year were not offered any of their preference schools, and some are being bussed miles. Some parents have been forced to pay for private education, and others sit on waiting lists and home ed. The schools on the rural fringe are being 'encouraged' to expand, but the traffic congestion is already horrendous - and so set to get worse. It's not as though this wasn't forecast - the ONS had predicted a baby boom around now about 5 years ago......

I am on the committee to bring a free school to the town, to try and alleviate the pressure on the town centre, and we are oversubscribed for our September intake several times over.

Startail Fri 15-Mar-13 13:26:31

Quite the opposite here this year, primary has a very small reception class. DDs secondary vis looking at falling rolls for years to come.

I think there may be more tiny babies, but we got hit very hard by high rural house prices.

Many nice families forced out as anything affordable to rent was sold. Better off families choosing to go private.

Tallulaxx Fri 15-Mar-13 13:35:15

Blu, I know exactly what new primary school you're talking about because we're literally around the corner too! How do they allocate places is that through Lambeth Council or themselves? Hopefully my youngest DD will get a place in 2015. My eldest is in a good primary and hopefully she will get into the academy!

It's very scary times indeed, but ready to fight for school places.

Manchesterhistorygirl Fri 15-Mar-13 13:38:52

Also in Tameside and the situation began around the 2010 intake and has got worse every year. Ds1's school takes 15 pan, but went up to 17 last year and will be 20 this September. I know parents who have had twins spilt across schools and I also know that the secondary intake for my sons year does not have enough spaces for children in the borough.

Ds2 goes in 2015 and I'm hoping he gets in on sibling preference, but its not guaranteed and we are 2 miles away. I know his preschool has unprecedented demand for September this year.

Our council, labour for last 27 years, has been pulling down schools, combining sites into super primaries and then allowing family housing to be built on those sites. It's an utter fucking shambles.

Skimty Fri 15-Mar-13 13:39:09

I am just a reasonably intelligent lay person but I cannot understand why we are building more and more family houses with no thought to the knock on effect on services. I think that planning permission for new developments should not be granted unless the builders can show that there are sufficient school places etc.

The real individual effect here is the schools changing their sibling policy so you only have priority if it is your 'nearest school'. Now, that sounds reasonable until you realise that my son's school has two school less than a mile away. There are some people who live less than half a mile from the school with siblings there and yet will be doing two school runs. Ridiculous

Skimty Fri 15-Mar-13 13:40:16

Oh, and nobody from the council seems to be thinking about the secondaries.

edam Fri 15-Mar-13 13:43:51

I'm a governor in a small commuter town in the SE. Our LEA has spent years refusing to allow my son's primary to expand from 1.5 class to two form entry, claiming 'there are excess primary places' here. They don't seem to have noticed all the families who move here precisely because there are good schools... last year they had to add bulge classes to two local primaries, but still refusing to expand ours (because in the long term they want to chuck us off our site and give the ground to the secondary next door). So we are stuck with a 45 intake, while extra places go to the Catholic primary, which is obviously appealing to only part of the population!

edam Fri 15-Mar-13 13:44:42

Oh and agree with everyone saying, what about secondaries?

DontmindifIdo Fri 15-Mar-13 13:48:43

oh god, why is it when I gave birth in 2009 and we had shortages of midwives, overstretched maternity services etc did no one think "hang on, all these children will be needing school places, perhaps we should spend the next 5 years sorting that?" rather than leaving it to a year before?

Our area is pretty bad, we're hoping DS gets in one of the two schools walking distance from our house, but might have to accept we find hte money for prep and be poor from then onwards

Llareggub Fri 15-Mar-13 13:48:58

I have just moved to a small city and couldn't get a place for my yr 1 child in any of the local primaries. We have ended up in a catholic primary which is a lovely school but not necessarily what I would have chosen.

My younger son is due to start reception in September and his class is undersubscribed.

Cien Fri 15-Mar-13 14:01:13

One new class last September and two more from this September, which means the SENCO now has no classroom or office and there's no ICT suite (trolley system to be used) and the breakfast/afterschool club has no home.

There are no "corners" left to take small groups to as they are all in use as someone's office or by the SENCO. The SLT office is a converted cupboard with no windows, I'd be amazed if it meets H&S and/or fire regs.

Phonics groups are done in the staff room and in each of the four corners of the hall (at the same time)

Reception and YR1 are still full and not able to accommodate all applications and this is only a "satisfactory" school.

RugBugs Fri 15-Mar-13 14:02:56

There's the two extremes in Liverpool.
The oversubscribed schools are massively oversubscribed, the catchment for the two form entry nearest us was 450m last year.
Then there are lots of schools in the centre/North of the city that struggle to fill 50% of places even with the children that don't get any of their preferences.

The city are consulting about adding an extra priority before distance based on if a child has a parent employed at the school. I forsee applications for lunch supervisions going through the roof in certain areas.

Mirage Fri 15-Mar-13 14:11:19

Rural Leicestershire here,local primary full,as are all the other village schools.There are 15 Reception places a year and last year 17 children were turned away.When DD1 started there in 2007,only 3 or so children were out of catchment,the next year the school was classed as Outstanding and since then more and more children from the nearby towns are applying.

We are heading for a problem with secondary schools as the local town decided,despite a huge influx of Poles to the town and a bulge in the birth rate,to close one of the two secondaries.None of the children due to leave our primary this year have got a place there and rather than going to the sink school in another town,a lot are going private.We have to chose DD1's secondary this year and are getting worried.I'm another person who wonders why,with the increase in the birth rate and immmigration,did no one think that there might be a need for more school spaces?

AngelsWithSilverWings Fri 15-Mar-13 14:11:36

We are in Essex and our local school is over subscribed every year. Living well within the catchment area will not guarantee you a place.

The reception places available each year are 120. Last September 90 of those places were taken up by siblings of children already at the school. My friend's child was first on the waiting list when the places were allocated but didn't get a place until January when a child moved out of the area.

We know of one family who own a house on the outer reaches of the catchment area but decided to rent it out and rent another house for themselves to live in closer to the school. There are also a few children who "live" in their Grandparent's house.

The school is very very cramped and bursting at the seams. It's run with military precision though.

bryte Fri 15-Mar-13 14:15:18

I live in a large town in East Anglia. Several schools are being considered for expansion. DDs' school is already one of the biggest in the county so won't be expanded. The catchment area has shrunk over the past few years and if we were applying from our house now, for a school place, we would not get in. It is our named catchment school. A 3 form entry primary school is bad enough (as my children attend). Children already have 2 tiered lunch. y5 and Y6 eat lunch outside all year round. PE is done on a rota with art and RE. They have 2 of those subjects for 4 weeks, then change. So, they go 4 weeks without having PE. The playground is crowded, although luckily they have big fields and KS1 and KS2 have a separate playground.

I cannot imagine how daunting a 4 form entry school would look like to a little child.

blueblackdye Fri 15-Mar-13 14:19:11

This is appalling, proper education should be given to all children no matter which faith, colour, origins they are.

springlamb Fri 15-Mar-13 14:19:41

North Croydon here. Many of our primaries have a bulge class now. At our particular one, we chucked the 2 Year 6 classes out into huts on the school field to make way for bulge classes which clearly aren't temporary. As we've now chucked the schoolkeeper out of his house and are developing a larger nursery unit which, I believe will be 104 places(!).

bryte Fri 15-Mar-13 14:20:33

Whne building new houses and considering school capacity, I wonder how they work out how many school children will occupy a new development. I suspect they take an average from an established area and apply that to the new development, conveniently forgetting that new developments tend to attract more families with school aged children.

knitcorner Fri 15-Mar-13 14:22:23

i am horrified by your description bryte!

Is that really what we are fighting to get a place for? A 4 weekly PE rota?! That is sad, and shocking. Here in London we don't even have big fields so it's no suprise that our kids are not getting enough exercise.


unebagpipe Fri 15-Mar-13 14:25:37

Mumsnet have raised the issue- but looking forward what are we mums going to do about it? Are there already national level petitions in place? Will mumsnet try and escalate the matter? I'd be happy to volunteer my time to help out on this matter- but not sure what is already in place...?

I think a petition to halt new building until school places are sorted out may turn a few heads!

Sunnymeg Fri 15-Mar-13 14:26:39

Sw, rural village school. with seven classes. This year they took in two reception classes for the first time as catchment boundaries changed to incorporate new housing estate on edge of nearest town. So the school will double in size in the next few years and portakabins will be put on playing fields to accommodate.

We had two new secondary schools open last year under the 'Building Schools for the Future' scheme. The capacity of the schools was based on the lowest birth year for 12 years, so they will become hideously cramped in a few years sad sad

bryte Fri 15-Mar-13 14:31:40

I'd support any joined up effort to make parents' voices heard nationally.

ReallyTired Fri 15-Mar-13 14:32:56

A free school with capacity for 60 children is opening near us. Primary is not so bad, but I dread secondary

akaemmafrost Fri 15-Mar-13 14:39:32

When dd started in Reception that was a January start and she was able to do so because another reception class had been created. So two receptions. This year there is three. All pupils from above Reception have now been barred from the fenced off play area attached to the Reception classrooms. Obviously with so many more reception pupils they now need it to themselves. The nursery has also been divided and a classroom created there. Not sure what other measures have been taken other than that.

OneLittleToddleTerror Fri 15-Mar-13 14:40:04

I cannot imagine how daunting a 4 form entry school would look like to a little child.

It's not a problem if done well. I went to a 5 form entry primary school.

akaemmafrost Fri 15-Mar-13 14:41:43

I am in West London. No green area for sports or PE here either. Though they sometimes use a big park that is about 500 m away.

StiffyByng Fri 15-Mar-13 14:48:36

We're in Southwark, on the Lewisham boundary. We are not in the catchment for any of our 6 nearest schools and all are oversubscribed. The area has limped by with rotating bulge classes which then lead to sibling only intakes in subsequent years. We will be applying for 2015 and there are two potential free schools in the offing by then. I'm not keen on the idea but there is no other option now LEAs can't open schools themselves. We can't afford private so are desperately hoping to avoid having to get our child to a failing school at the other end of the borough every day.

EskSmith Fri 15-Mar-13 14:48:38

Rural Northamptonshire here. Very real prospect of dd2 starting school in September as only girl in class of 3 (max class size 15) very lean year across the district apparently. For the following year I already know of 12 children so a very real chance of being oversubscribed!!

RISC1 Fri 15-Mar-13 15:00:49

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

thegreylady Fri 15-Mar-13 15:04:30

My grandchildren go to an excellent small rural school-about 80 pupils aged between 3 and 11.There are 4 classes.The school is full and has a waiting list for years 1 and 2 but there are spaces in nearby small town schools.I havent heard of any problems for September.I hope it will be ok as my dd lives outside the county.Dgs1 is in yr1 and dgs2 is in Nursery hoping to start yrR in September.

Blu Fri 15-Mar-13 15:07:27

Talullaxx - I am sure admission will be via the LEA central form - but probably with a supplementary form direct to the school. The admissions booklet on the Lambeth wensite will tell you.

One of the problems with new provision is that it isn't made where the problem is. In Lambeth and Southwark you can't just free up new land in the place where the school shortages are. Mostly because that is exactly the land that has been developed for high density housing... where the children fighting for places are living.

So you get new schools where there is land. I live in an epicentre of schools. A real choice of 2 good secondaries - with a 3rd (unproven) opening in September all within a short walk. If i were putting a child in primary this year I could choose from 3 excellent primaries (2 proven, one with great credentials) and one as yet unproven primary. In other parts of the borough parents may receive NO offer at all. The Free School issue is adding to this. People applying to open free schools with no relationship to where the school 'balck holes' are. Or opening Free Schools with specific agendas, when what people wnat is a local co-ed community school that does a good job.

So, it isn't just the shortages of space that is a problem, but the lack of planning or strategy in the way that shortage is met.

harryhausen Fri 15-Mar-13 15:07:58

I'm in South Bristol. Pressure on school places seems to change drastically within very short distances.

5 mins down the road, the 3 primaries locally have all added bulge years and extra firm intakes. Now one is considering becoming a 'super school' with a split site adding an extra 4 classes per year (I think).

However, I'm just up the road. We have masses of space ( huge playing fields, games courts etc) no huge problem with spaces. We have a good ofsted rating.

I don't really understand why more parents I know aren't looking ever so slightly further afield. I think most of it is 'word of mouth' about being seen to get into the 'right school'.

Our residents association and councillors spotted this about 18 months ago and it has taken until about 2 months ago for the council to agree we will be a class size short of places. Luckily the head teachers at local schools have been far more proactive pushing to expand their intakes so we should be ok.

TheCrackFox Fri 15-Mar-13 15:20:49

Leith, Edinburgh (I know this report was only about England) and the schools around here are fit to burst. One school, 5 yrs ago was ear marked for closure but last year had a 3 classes p1 (no reception in Scotland) intake. Similar stories all over Edinburgh.

What pisses me off is that 5 yrs ago the maternity hospital was struggling with women in labour being turned away at the door and travelling 50 miles to give birth. The council have had plenty of notice but chose to ignore it. Pathetic.

Oblomov Fri 15-Mar-13 15:23:41

Surrey. Ds2 due to start sept. Am quitely confident of getting him to ds1's school, but i do know that in sw london and surrey there is a massive deficit and i think they released a huge figure of children that they already knew would not get a school place.

StiffyByng Fri 15-Mar-13 15:38:08

The free school point is a very good one. I just want a decent community school for my children. Not a faith school (two of my nearest six are faith schools) and not a single issue one. One of the possible free schools opening is one of the English-German bilingual ones mentioned already. I can't judge how good a school it may be of course but neither of us speaks German or has any connection to it, so if our daughter ends up there, it will be pretty ridiculous.

Phineyj Fri 15-Mar-13 15:38:23

I would like to see a national discussion of whether it is sensible in this day and age to have so many religious primaries. When my DD is school age, if she doesn't get into the popular local primary, all the other nearby schools are CofE. We are atheists. It seems peculiar to me that there are so many religious schools when the seriously religious are a minority of the population (I understand the historical reasons for this but do not think a public service should be selecting children on religious grounds).

OneLittleToddleTerror Fri 15-Mar-13 15:41:21

Phineyj I think it's appalling too to have so many religious schools that has discriminatory admission practise. If there is a school which puts gay or non-white parents at the lowest priority category, there will be an outcry. So why is it ok in this day and age to discriminate based on religion?

PS. We are atheists too.

Orwellian Fri 15-Mar-13 15:42:45

This is why immigration needs to be severely reduced. There is no reason to be importing low skilled dependent migrant families when the infrastructure - NHS, schools, housing etc cannot take the strain and the quality of life for those already here is getting worse and more expensive all the time.

RugBugs Fri 15-Mar-13 15:43:15

I was working in the director's office of one of the London LEA's already mentioned back in 2004/05 and even back then they were well aware of the rising birth rate and the issues it was going to cause down the line.
Off the top of my head there were something like 70 primaries and the planning that went into managing surplas vs shortfall of places was staggering.

If a development is of a large enough size then the planning authority will seek to include schools etc as part of the developers section106 agreement, convoys wharf for example (totally outsself).

DontmindifIdo Fri 15-Mar-13 15:56:00

Phineyj - it's been discussed over and over, the main sticking point is faith schools are usually owned by the Church of their particular denomination, not by the state, even though they are run as state schools. If the state insisted they had to be secular, there's no reason to presume the churches would just hand over the school buildings without the state having to pay for them. (Or that the churches might just run them as private schools)

If the churches just closed the schools, that leaves an even bigger problem for state school places.

There seem to be bigger problems round where I live over the last 2-3 years because a lot of planning seems to be based on a certain percentage of families in this town using private schools. With the downturn, a lot aren't. We've got prepschools with empty spaces for this coming September, that's not normal.

morethanpotatoprints Fri 15-Mar-13 15:56:53

We live in one of the largest towns in the N.W. (Lancashire)/ Manchester.
There are no problems here.
We have lots of small schools with small classes. When dd left y3 last year the class had 25, since then 3 more have left and gone to other schools in the town.

NiniLegsInTheAir Fri 15-Mar-13 16:07:33

Not a problem for me right now as DD won't be starting school until September 2015, but I find the whole situation very worrying as we're planning to move if necessary to get a school place for her. What EXACTLY is being done about this problem?

If anyone here has experience of how bad the situation is in Cheltenham, can they PM me?

Talkinpeace Fri 15-Mar-13 16:11:18

The Government needs to permit Local Authorities to open new schools according to need.
Free schools can be opened.
And Academy sponsors can take over existing schools.
But LEAs cannot open new schools where they are needed.


amidaiwish Fri 15-Mar-13 16:19:49

Richmond borough, the shortage of school places isn't new. Dd1 started school 5 years ago and even then many local kids didn't get offered anything! Eventually they got places in neighbouring boroughs crap, the ones everyone else turned down.

DDs school is 90 intake per year. 700 in total. It isn't too much if well managed though parking a nightmare.

insanityscratching Fri 15-Mar-13 16:36:34

Dd's school is currently being extended so two more classes are being built on to the existing school.
Numbers at dd's school have increased by 40% since it opened 4 years ago and it's now over its numbers so the two classrooms won't really account for the increase it will just meet the need this year. No idea what will happen next year though I assume it will just become overcrowded again.

LaQueen Fri 15-Mar-13 16:37:35

Our DD's school, is a small, village primary. But, it is in the top 20 schools in the country for its SATS results, and it's had several Outstanding Ofsteds in a row.

Consequently, we have families deliberately moving into the village, just because of the school. It is always massively over-subscribed, and our HT spends her life fighting appeals from very, very determined parents.

There are several families who live in the village, but can't get their children into the school - because of the older siblings rule. People aren't happy, and it causes tensions.

It has become a victim of its own success sad

WhatWouldGrandmaDo Fri 15-Mar-13 16:39:06

We're in a large Hertfordshire town within the M25 (lots of commuters). At DS1's school, this year is their 'turn' for the bulge - it seems that every couple of years various primaries have to take up the surplus because there simply aren't enough places. DS1 is yr 1 but the extra reception class is in a portakabin on what was playground. I know that a number of local kids didn't get a place until the very last minute. A large development of town houses & flats was under construction next to the school and completed about a year ago and I think we were very lucky that no one had moved in there before we applied for DS1's place as based on proximity, you can't get much closer (we're only about half a mile away).

I'm reasonably confident that DS2 - due to start reception Sep 2014 - will get a place on the sibling rule. However our council in their infinite wisdom are trying to push through a development of about 600 new homes just up the road and when you point out the lack of school places (and dentist / GP - our local surgery isn't taking new patients) their attitude is pretty much to shrug and say 'well we aren't allowed to base planning decisions on things like infrastructure'. madness gone mad.

tallulah Fri 15-Mar-13 16:42:16

Children from our road have been going to the local primary since 1936. Last year DD didn't get in because most of the places were taken by siblings. This year they have a bulge class, so she would have got in sad . Several schools have had to add bulge classes this year. There is a new school opening this September on the new housing estate that has just been built, so that's a good start, but it's only going to get worse. There are 2 other huge housing estates under construction locally sad

The current Y6 is the last of the low-birth years. DD was born in 2007 which was a really high birth year. As others have said I worry what will happen at secondary level because nobody seems to be heeding the warning from the primary problem.

Our local paper keeps insisting that there are places, just not where people live confused. Perhaps they need to do a full census of children to find out exactly how many there are of what age, and where they live, and then plan the schooling around the facts.

WhatWouldGrandmaDo Fri 15-Mar-13 16:52:33

coincidentally an article from our local paper just popped up on my twitter timeline about this - according to that, there will be a deficit of 36 places for five to eleven-year-olds this September, which will rise to 83 by next year, and 163 in 2015. The council's Education Director puts this down to more people in flats having children (I guess he means they previously expected flats to be couples only but people can't afford to move up the housing ladder into houses now).

Phineyj Fri 15-Mar-13 16:53:04

DontmindifIdo, that's interesting, thanks, (to be honest I had not taken much interest in this aspect of education until DD came along but it doesn't surprise me it's a typical British fudge!), however, if the state is funding these schools (which surely it must be? Or does the CofE pay all salaries etc, too?) then it could require them to drop the religious aspect from the admissions. Alternatively, as another poster suggested, give non-religious parents priority for the secular schools. I don't object to schools having a religious ethos as such, as long as the children are allowed to ask questions -- but I don't see why they should get to both accept state funding and discriminate against a large chunk of the population.

dawntigga Fri 15-Mar-13 16:55:46

mumofthemonsters808 I still know people in the Hollingworth/Mottram area who have been saying for years there is no point in building houses if there's nowhere for the kids to go to school.


NK2b1f2 Fri 15-Mar-13 17:05:43

My first thought, lovely, dd2 is starting reception in 2014. shock hmm

Jojobump1986 Fri 15-Mar-13 17:17:14

I think all our local primaries do a 2-class intake & there's a lot of competition for places, even at the not-so-good schools. They opened a reception class on the site of a secondary school last year & I've heard rumours that they're hoping to build a new primary in the area. No idea where they're going to squeeze it in though!

Personally, I wonder if the solution could be for the government to encourage homeschooling. Perhaps by providing parents/homeschooling groups with small financial incentives they could make it easier & more affordable for parents to educate their children themselves & then they wouldn't need to worry about finding places or finances to build so many schools.

StiffyByng Fri 15-Mar-13 17:27:37

RugBug, isn't the Government planning to drop section 106, or at least change its use?

PoppyWearer Fri 15-Mar-13 17:30:05

We live in Surrey commuter-belt. Local school is outstanding. We moved here for the school, plus commuter links. Luckily we were early to move here after the Ofsted report, because in the past couple of years there has been a HUGE influx of families for that reason. DC1 got in, which should mean DC2 dos too.

Haven't RTFT, but I imagine someone had already mentioned the impact of the economy? We definitely fall into the bracket of higher-earners who in times-gone-by would have been able to afford private education, but with uncertainty over DH's sector and reduced bonuses, etc, we just can't risk over-extending ourselves and decided to take the hit on the mortgage/house instead, to move to an area where the schools were good.

I do think the Ofsted ratings have created the problem in part. There are other perfectly decent schools in nearby towns but no one wants their children to go there, everyone competes for the "outstanding" ones.

TenthMuse Fri 15-Mar-13 17:55:00

I'm in suburban North London and a teacher. As well as rising birth rates, my borough has high levels of new immigrants and inward migration from pricier parts of London, which has increased dramatically since the housing benefit cap came in. Most schools are either expanding permanently or have at least one bulge class. The few that are refusing to expand for safety/space reasons (including one I used to work in) are having their funding reduced by the council.

There are an increasing number of 'super-schools' in the local area - one primary near me is in the process of expanding to take 840 children, and it's far from being the exception. The school has no field and the new development will reduce the already tiny playground. At other schools I know of, children are being taught in corridors, or doing subjects that need more space/resources (music, ICT, PE) on a rota basis. Since school halls are usually used for lunches as well as lessons, there's often reduced teaching time for e.g. PE/drama, as tables have to be set up for lunch and then packed away afterwards. Lunch rotas with three or four sittings mean that many children are only given ten minutes to eat their lunch before the next lot come in - hardly conducive to developing a healthy relationship with food! Catchments for the most popular schools are now down to the nearest one or two roads. Last year across the borough 99 children had no school place at all, and 162 more weren't offered places at any of their six primary choices.

So many councils seem to be panicking now, when they should have picked up on the increasing birth rates years ago and realised that more school places (and more schools) would be needed. Instead we now have this mad rush to cram more children into existing schools and build on any spare piece of green space. So far there seems to be no action at all on secondary places - perhaps the councils are just hoping these extra children will disappear?

It's madness, and unless drastic action is taken soon, it's only going to get worse. The quality of education will inevitably suffer in such overcrowded conditions (and I say that as someone who has to teach in them!)

RugBugs Fri 15-Mar-13 17:56:01

Stiffybyng I think the ability to re-negotiate old S106 agreements will sadly focus more on developers trying to reduce their % of affordable homes, developers trying to limit how much of the building waste is recycled.
The amounts that authorities get from residential developments is quite small and typically limited to grass verges/lampposts etc.

Talkinpeace Fri 15-Mar-13 17:57:45


Gove has a political antipathy to LEAs - hence half of Secondary schools are now outside LEA control
but it means that the "Council" is not allowed to open new schools - it can expand existing ones - so long as they are not Academies
but it cannot open a new one

even in a town like Southampton that has no Secondary school at all in the City Centre - because the plot was sold for housing in the early 1990's

burntoutdad Fri 15-Mar-13 17:59:18

our local primary (and I believe most others around here) had originally taken on what was initially described as a 'bulge' year for year 1. This has now become a permanent intake (from 3 to 4 form intake now) which makes an already big school, massive.
What I find concerning is where do all these pupils go in 3,4 -5 years time? The secondary schools are already over subscribed and will have to take this massive increase. It is as though that impact hasn't even been considered yet!

sunshine401 Fri 15-Mar-13 18:02:22

There are loads of spaces in schools round here. I think only two get filled to max.

Roseformeplease Fri 15-Mar-13 18:02:22

Loads of space up here in the Highlands of Scotland! Tiny classes and schools, cheap property, better weather than you would think. All very, very welcome!

Iggity Fri 15-Mar-13 18:02:57

Hillingdon is opening two new schools and several other schools are building extensions.

Our first choice school is a 30 class entry Catholic school which we are in catchment for but no idea what our chances are. 2nd school is also Catholic which takes 90 but we are not in catchment. Both are rated outstanding. Our other 4 choices are state schools but would really not be happy sending DS to any of them despite them being rated good or outstanding.

We are lucky that we generally have good/outstanding schools in our area (Ruislip). I'm pretty certain we will get a place somewhere close to us as we are wedged in between one good school and another outstanding one but neither are the actual two that we want.

We did look into private but the only one that was semi convenient was going to charge us a term's fees if we accepted and then turned down the place. Fair enough but we aren't millionaires and given the calibre of the state/faith schools, not too disappointed.

Praying hard!

TruthSweet Fri 15-Mar-13 18:05:14

SE here - DD1 & 2's primary was built as a middle school with a 1 class intake originally (so approx 150 children), it's now been a 3 class intake for the last 2 years so has roughly 480 children (Yr & Y1 3 classes and Y2-6 2 classes). Luckily it was built on a very large site so has room to expand.

The next closest school had when DD1 started YR split intake classes (YR & Y1 were one class) and was close to shutting, now it's heaving due to the baby boom.

I'm not sure that large intake schools are a modern issue, I'm in my 30's & my junior school had a 6 class intake but the 6 classes were amalgamated into 5 classes in the 2nd year & had 35+ children in each class (only 1 teacher & no TA per class of course!)

Talkinpeace Fri 15-Mar-13 18:05:53

Is Hillingdon LEA opening them, or are they free schools / academies?

lougle Fri 15-Mar-13 18:12:41

It's not just mainstream schools. Special schools are having huge pressure put on places - more children are being born with disabilities due to surviving earlier and earlier births, infrastructure is old and outdated.

DD1's school has already increased capacity as far as is able and even at this point in the year, the number of children 'needing' a place at her school far outstrips the number of places available.

In our local mainstream area we are quite lucky. Our nearest (within 5 miles) 6 schools are rated Oustanding (5) and Good (1) so there is, in theory, no such thing as a 'bad' school here. Last year, none of the schools were oversubscribed.

Surrey village.moved dd in to local school when we moved last year as a place was available and thank God we did as local rumour says out of thirty places 24 likely to go to siblings (which will now include ds). if the rumors are true the school is going to be very very oversubscribed this year.thing is all the surrounding town schools are overflowing.

I'm refusing to even think about secondary schools at this point

Our primary had a drop in intake this year. There are usually two reception classes but they didn't have the numbers so only have one class this year. I was wondering if the low birth rate for 2008 was local or national - I guess this thread has answered the question that it's local!!

I'm very grateful our local CofE school is only moderately religious and not over-subscribed. The frequent despairing threads on MN where people can't get their children into a local school and have to travel for miles are awful. It absolutely shouldn't be the case that children can't go to their own local school.

MothershipG Fri 15-Mar-13 18:35:04

This is old news for Ealing they've been struggling to find enough places for every child in the borough for several years.

The primary my DC go to has been 'over-subscribed within catchment' for donkey's years because it's popular and has a stupid shaped catchment (based on old parish boundaries I think.) As a 2 form entry school on a very small site, not a blade of grass and we celebrated our centenary a few years back, it felt crowded but the LEA bullied the school into going to 3 forms of entry. Had to build up and rejig playground so now kids have less space per head than battery hens. hmm

What amazes me is how this increase in numbers seems to have come as such a surprise to local gov/strategy planners and no one from the council could give me an answer why this was.

Talkinpeace Fri 15-Mar-13 18:39:48

It is NOT a surprise to LEAs and local government.
But Whitehall - Gove in particular - has barred them from building new schools.

MothershipG Fri 15-Mar-13 19:05:12

Well our Local gov did a very convincing impression of being caught on the hop when then presented an extra form as a choice but then bullied the school into it when they dissented!

They were desperately trying to justify themselves but at no point suggested it was because they hadn't been permitted to build new schools. And frankly I don't believe our local councillors wouldn't have lept at the chance to blame some one else!

Blu Fri 15-Mar-13 19:05:20

Southwark does not have one single LEA controlled community secondary.

MNetBlackpoolLE Fri 15-Mar-13 19:10:16

Dc are in a small village school, full to the brim, only one class per year but they have a tiny playground and they are all crammed into it, no room to play.

When we moved her we waited from November till May for a school play as none within 5 miles!

Talkinpeace Fri 15-Mar-13 19:13:28

Despite the academy/Free School presumption, in certain exceptional circumstances it is still possible to publish proposals for a new maintained school outside of a competition, under sections 10 or 11 of the EIA 2006.

Speak to the head of Education at what is left of EAling LEA and ask if they have permission to build a school to meet the need.

MothershipG Fri 15-Mar-13 19:22:06

Sorry Talkin I have neither the time or the patience to wade through that excessively tedious looking 6 pages so if you have I am happy to concede that you know more than me and I bow to your greater wisdom. grin

Fortunately for my DC 1 has moved onto Secondary and the other is in Y6, the 3 form intake got to Y3 this year I think, I really feel for the kids coming up behind them when the school reaches capacity!

williaminajetfighter Fri 15-Mar-13 19:25:33

I find it shocking that the most populated areas and areas with jobs are the ones where schools are oversubscribed. Surely easy enough to anticipate??!

I'm in Oxford. Oversubscribed. Didn't get my DD1 into school and had to go private. Never wanted that but wasn't much alternative.

Talkinpeace Fri 15-Mar-13 19:26:42

Sadly because I live in a town that sold its secondary school years ago I've had to read up on such things.
Trust me, Gove and his acolytes seem to think that Free schools and Sponsored academies will pop up where there is need rather than where there is potential profit.
They are deluded, and the UK's children will suffer for his arrogance.

bryte suspect I live in the same large town in East Anglia as you...

My daughter attends a small CofE school which had nearly 4x the number of applications for the usual 30 place intake this year. It has been told it must take another reception class (in a portacabin), and has now proposed to double the school size by expanding to a 2 class 60 place intake every year. The school is in the centre of town, has a tiny playground, virtually no facilities and nowhere to expand into. The plans for the expansion are ludicrous, and the consultation the council set up was laughable. The architect even admitted trying to fit double the number of puipls into an already tiny space was 'not ideal'.

The school is amazing, and it has a great reputation for a reason. But the surge in birth rate did not happen overnight, and I struggle to understand why the local council are so short-sighted that they could not see the expansion in the birth rate and large increase in economic migrants (with big families).

It's a really depressing situation...and absolutely agree about the lack of foresight in looking at secondary places. And we wonder why we're so far behind in the world education stakes.

Iggity Fri 15-Mar-13 20:43:29

Talkinpeace, seems to be Hillingdon Council. Spending 149 million on the school extensions.

Iggity Fri 15-Mar-13 20:47:38

Sorry Talkin, didn't answer your question. One school is a faith school and the other is being opened by an Academy Trust. Don't see any mention of them being free schools but not sure if 2nd one is an academy.

KenDoddsDadsDog Fri 15-Mar-13 21:04:30

Have just been to look at primary schools today - North East England. Two catholic schools, both undersubscribed. I think there are two extremes though - some hideously oversubscribed and some struggling to fill.

nailak Fri 15-Mar-13 21:12:17

I have to say, despite my borough being in one of the most deprived areas, Newham has dealt effectively, other people are talking of up to 8 bulge classes, we have 30. I know no one who wasnt offered their first choice primary place. If people move house, after a couple of terms they normally get a place in a nearer school, even if the distance closer is like 700m.

they have used creative solutions, such as playground on the roof, and funky designs, staggered playtimes and lunch times, multi function spaces to deal with some of the issues of space and crowding mentioned here.

I am happy to live here, and think many opportunities are provided for primary and under 5s

WithASpider Fri 15-Mar-13 21:35:32

Our local primary has always been well attended. DD1 only got a place because 2003/4 was a low birth year here. We're less than a mile away.

Of the 60 place intake, 2/3 are siblings. I'm relying on this to get DS in next year! My neighbour 4 doors away didn't get in last year, as they were oversubscribed by half again. Her DS got in to our other local primary. He's still on the waiting list for the original one though, and if a place comes up she will move him.

There are fewer than 300 families in a 460 place school.

Thankfully our school has more than enough space to expand if need be, and it wouldn't surprise me if they have to in the next few years.

Dancergirl Fri 15-Mar-13 21:46:02

Shocked to read some of these posts.

What happens if there are MORE siblings than places? Is it then done on distance?

msbossy Fri 15-Mar-13 22:06:38

I feel frustrated. Catchment carries a higher priority than siblings here, and they keep moving the bulge class around, so you either opt for your catchment school whether you like it or not (and still have to pray they get in), or risk having children at different schools.

What is the LEA doing? Well, they won't tell me! The LEA can't tell me where the bulge class will be in 2015 when DD2 starts, so I can come up with a strategy for them to both be at the same school...

And don't get me started on the fact that neither of the two outstanding schools that are 5 minutes walk away are our catchment school - the satisfactory school 15 minutes walk away is our catch(using a funny-shaped net)ment school.

Talkinpeace Fri 15-Mar-13 22:11:40

LEA / maintaned school extensions are NOT the same as new schools in the middle of the gaps in the canvas.
ONLY free schools and sponsored academies are allowed into those gaps
the LEA must twiddle its thumbs (by law)

depending on your LEA, by 2015, they may not be responsible for any of the schools in the area - the Dfe directly will - so no wonder they will not answer.

which is all well and good - but what about acces to Bunsen Burners at Secondary level

I'm in Sutton - which is fairly widely acknowledged to have great primary schools and one of the few London boroughs with superselective or partially selective secondary schools.

We are around 800m away from our nearest primary school. We are 600m outside of the admissions distance for Every.Single.Primary in the borough. Fortunately, DD did get allocated a place at one of our choices in the end, and so long as sibling priority remains, we should be fine.

Most primary schools now have at least one bulge class, there will be a new 120 intake primary opening this September (on the site of a high school that was relocated and the site due to be sold for housing development...hmm). At least 3 other primary schools I know of are being permanently expanded by this September and there will be 7 bulge classes in total.

According to a consultation meeting I attended last year, the council's approach for creating additional spaces at secondary level when the time comes relies entirely on establishing bulge classes. This will be difficult, as almost without exception, our local secondary schools became academies last summer. I have no idea what will happen tbh.

I think it's siblings ranked by distance if oversubscribed.I believe this happened at our local Catholic school last year and it came down to measuring " Catholicism" cue mad scramble towards mass attendance for families that got older siblings in on distance alone on low head count year and are worried about the younger ones.

nailak Fri 15-Mar-13 22:18:55

talkin what about it? our local secondary got an outstanding ofsted,

When I was at school, in a grammar, we had one bunsen burner between 3, it was fine, didnt effect our results.

BoffinMum Fri 15-Mar-13 22:27:37

I've just helped to set up a new LA maintained school. They are still happening.

Dancergirl Fri 15-Mar-13 22:30:09

Extremely worrying.

How are they fitting in all these bulge classes? At our primary school which is one form entry, there is literally one room for each class, no other space anywhere!

Talkinpeace Fri 15-Mar-13 22:31:56

primary or secondary?
and I'd be interested to know more - bearing in mind the Dfe link above

when I was at school there were no computers. Does not make it right today.

mam29 Fri 15-Mar-13 22:32:49

Im north bristol and bit worried. Iitially shortages were specific more urban areas im outer suberbs where they keep building huge brand new housing estates and no extra schools. I brand new school has 30 intake refused to expand aking school round corner take 90 a year.

the best performing non faith schools have very small catchments.
both are seperate infant junior but have a transfer arrangement so automatic entrance to linked juniors.

The 3nearest coe schools do not select on faith its just distance , sibling and cathment.

The roman catholics take children in care and catholics 1st.

Eldests started at rc primary we not catholic but was ok not too big primary wuthin walking distance of our house shes actually baptised coe.But the coes are all out of our catchment.

The large community primaries just seemed too large.

The rc catholic had 1.4intake 45 kids which I dont recomend as 15 always get left out, split freindships.

Her new school is coe village primary out of catchment we got in midyear were quite lucky however being out catchment I worry about 2younger siblings .

It has a pan of 20per year, mixed classes as only 5classes in entire primary, small hall, 3/5classes are porta cabins, old victorian building, no feild has village common,2very small playgrounds and no ict suite or additional rooms so theres no way it could expand on current site.

But when hospital shuts down they want to build more new houses and bigger school-reckon this could take years!Knowing the council it be houses 1st schools later.

child no 2 I apply this jan and find out next year shes due to start 2014 as sept-2009 was boom year but preschools quiet so reckon 2013 will have the bulk of boom kids I could be wrong.

child no 3 born 2011 due to start following year 2015.

but eldest have to apply for senior school places end of 2017 as starts sept 2018 seems mad to worry about something 4years away but ineveitably the shortage will flow onto seniors.

the best performing state seniors are rc and coe both small intakes.The best performing academies also have small intakes which just leaves the sink comps.

When they built all the houses the promised a senior school.
I asked mp at last election heard nothing since.

even contemplating sending eldest to school outside the city if needs be and log comute.

nailak Fri 15-Mar-13 22:36:49

talkin, the issue of Bunsen burners is easily solvable, by working with lab partners, taking turns for one half to do practical and other half of class doing theory one lesson then swapping over etc, it is not an insurmountable problem tbh.

KatieMiddleton Fri 15-Mar-13 22:37:11

I'm in Richmond. Every year there are some children who get no place at all. So the council in their wisdom have decided to give a site for a new Catholic school. This will be a school that will prioritise children from out of the area because of their parents' faith, over my child. Council are fuckers to do this angry

DS due to start reception in September. I don't think he'll get any place in the allocation, despite applying only for the closest three schools and he'll be on the waiting lists, hoping for a place before the summer so we can make plans.

nailak Fri 15-Mar-13 22:37:15

where as no computers would be an insurmountable problem

tiggytape Fri 15-Mar-13 22:47:12

There has been house building here but no new schools. There has been a baby boom too. And less people able to afford private schooling. And more families living in the tiny flats close to schools which never used to be occupied by whole families before. They get priority on distance but only because they cannot afford to move after having a baby like people living in the flats used to so now the catchments are tinier than ever. There's less people moving away generally as nobody can afford to move. Bulge classes year after year mean dozens of extra siblings eligible for admission priority and fewer children getting places just on proximity.

It isn't just this government. It is previous governments and councils too. You can read council notes going back 5 years plus predicting this would happen in our area and yet no action was taken. Every year is a sticking plaster approach of bulge classes, temporary classrooms and children waiting months for any allocation.
Until crisis point is reached (hundreds as opposed to dozens of children with no school to go to in each part of the borough) nobody has any stomach for diverting vast sums of cash to schools that only benefit a small proportion of voters locals. Nothing is being done to increase secondary places either despite a similar crisis expected soon. Again, there is no appetite to sort that out now that the primary crisis looms every year.

Corygal Fri 15-Mar-13 22:50:52

The Labour Govt always denied immigration levels were as never-before-seen high as they are - is that why there are no school places?

Did the Govt ignore the babies because otherwise they'd have had to admit to the existence of the parents? Sounds like it.

Re London - I'm confused. Many of the middle classes have moved out of London already, as self-payers unable to house their children affordably. We're endlessly being told the birth rate of established residents is going down. Is the shortage of school places entirely immigrant-driven? What else could it be?

Talkinpeace Fri 15-Mar-13 22:58:09

LEAs were not given the choice.
Once Broon and Bliar had decided that Acdemies would patch that plaster
and Fove grabbed the idea with gusto

the "authorities" were stopped from building schools according to need - as they always used to do.
they should be allowed to again.

MN posters - if you can vote in this country, lobby your MP NOW

BoffinMum Fri 15-Mar-13 22:58:58

2 primaries have opened with one more in the pipeline. Secondary school due to open in about 3 years or so as well.

nailak Fri 15-Mar-13 22:59:49

erm baby boon? like mentioned lots of times on this thread! more housing meaning more families in the area....

BoffinMum Fri 15-Mar-13 23:01:05

Clever LAs get developers to fund new schools.

mam29 Fri 15-Mar-13 23:02:58

Im guessing as they primary burners not an issue.

As for no ict suite eldest school has 1coputer every class and laptops on trollies which they share and libary has computer.

At her old school had ict suit and shared between 3kids per session.

I do feel they should make developers fund new schools.

just researched my area and there,s planning permission for 2500new homes with possibly primary and land allocated for seniors if needed.

I imagine planning permission, funding and building takes years .

I thourght maybe i dreamed it councils were prevented from building new lea schools and new ones would be free schools or academies.

No ones forward thinking my side of city to even suggest a free school.

At the moment people buy school places by paying overinflated prices for their houses and are quite smug mostly older established areas.

The new executive new build estate where im sure they paid high price never came with a school so either they counting to nearby villages or using private rather than attend the nearest community primary which to be fair is improving but had very mixed intake and known for being good for behavioural issues.

I see classrooms even being placed on top of rooftops seems mad.

Bristol is severe shortage got more money from departments education but hundred of kids dont get any of 3choices here for some reason london seem to get 6choices wondering if they should implement that here.

i would never trust an estate agent when looking at a house.

so many places say 60intake 30 easily can go to siblings.

I have 3 lots people have 3 locally.

primary places not announced until next month not heard much noise about seniors but some missed out 1st/2nd choices.

I think they forsee problems not for 2013 intake but more 2014 /15.

extra senior places needed here inner city from 2017 but wider city and surrounding areas 2019.

Talkinpeace Fri 15-Mar-13 23:03:30

will they be "maintained schools"
and are they south of Milton Keynes?

tiggytape Fri 15-Mar-13 23:03:45

Not all of London is expensive central London Cory. Much of London is poorer, further out from centre and populated by people who cannot afford to move - mainly commuting into the centre for work but living in cheaper bits.
The immigration stats vary from borough to borough. I'd say in our area it isn't immigration at all really. It is new housing that has brought people in, a national baby boom and the austerity era that means the usual 10% or 20% or whatever it once was no longer opt out of state education by either moving house or paying for private schools and instead want a local primary place allocated.

KatieMiddleton Fri 15-Mar-13 23:08:20

Not much immigration here (unless you count those who move out of Clapham for a bit more space!) but there people who are here cannot afford to move so where they would have moved further out they haven't but mainly there are lots of people who would have educated privately that are now looking at state.

KatieMiddleton Fri 15-Mar-13 23:09:37

Not sure what happened there. I'm not illiterate really! There should be 3 sentences, not one mammoth one hmm

mam29 Fri 15-Mar-13 23:25:05

There,s variety of reasons why.

some regionally specific.

1)rising birthrate.

2)recession-less people go private.Fees in london/south east independents much higher than south west or wales for example.

3)economic migration people move wheres thres jobs so that means london, south east, other large cities and towns.

4) lack of money commuting long distances by car, train, bus very expensive so people choose to live and work same place.
5)people cant afford to move I know we cant most people choose to stay out and extend.

6)those who do move put to surroundimg area ie essex , kent just put problems with numbers on them the shortages spread.

7)immigration maybe just here but find different cultures drawn to specfic areas almost like a ghetto.
Im in outer mostly white leafy suberbs yet the rc school has high amount of polish kids.People I know in more urban areas seem to talk more about somali kids.

8)social housing-most are new build has as every developer has to build so many affordble homes so those offered would not have much choice I guess if they want a home they go where houses are then find out theres no school places.

9)The extremes of bad schools in city makes the good areas and good schools very oversubscribed.I guess if all schools were good situation be better.

10)faith schools overcoplicate some areas,
Love idea of bilingial schools we have none here that sounds good.

The free schools suggested are

all through 3-18-cant say im keen that idea
or other side of city.

lot of sink seniors and now primaries now academies by name but still doing rubbish.

pootlebug Fri 15-Mar-13 23:32:33

I am lucky in that I got my eldest into a bulge class in 2nd-nearest school last year and so next will get in on a sibling place.

We need to blame the last government as well as this one though - they have known about 2008/2009/2010 baby booms and immigration for some time.

My kids school have been promised a new building for years. Promised by previous labour government. Still no sign of actual new building....just a series of portacabins taking over the playground. The staff are wonderful and doing a great job but it seems it would be much easier with good purpose-built accommodation instead of 1950s prefabs and portacabins.

lottieandmia Fri 15-Mar-13 23:41:30

Where I live all the primary schools are oversubscribed and last year there were newspaper reports about people getting school placements that they would not be able to walk to and which would involve driving across town to.

When I was a child in the same town there were more spaces available for people to join in the middle of a year from what I remember.

MerryCouthyMows Sat 16-Mar-13 01:07:50

It will be September 2015 in my area that a perfect shitstorm of lack of school places hits my area.

We have one of the highest density building projects in the whole country going on right now.

In September 2015, not only will the intake for Primary schools be at their highest ever (requiring an entire 2-FE Primary school) through both higher levels of birth AND influx of families into brand new housing, BUT the current 'largest' school year, which has bulge classes, and classes well in excess of 30, will be starting Secondary school. We also need a new Secondary school for 2015!

I am particularly concerned, as I will have DS2 starting Secondary in September 2015, AND DS3 starting Primary at the same time. So I could be facing a Secondary age DS2 without an accessible Secondary place at the same time as having DS3 without an accessible Primary place, with no way of getting either of them to these schools, as DS2 has SN's and won't cope with public transport alone (but will still be in MS school), and DS3 ALSO has SN's...and I can't drive due to disability.

Frankly, I'm shitting bricks and trying to ignore it!

Today a site has been found for the new Primary school - but it is too far away to have any effect on the intake of the schools that could be considered OUR local schools. Still no firm plans for Secondary places, despite the fact that the LA has known for 5 years already that the local Academy will be unable to cope.

Our towns infrastructure doesn't support public transport on time to non local Secondaries, because the traffic gets snarled every morning at a bottleneck in both directions, preventing bus travel to other Secondaries.

Should be fun then, they have 2.5yrs to find a site AND build a Secondary - problem is, they already KNOW they are working over a year behind schedule and it won't be open in time for September 2015. hmm

So quite what will happen to DS2'a intake is beyond me...

September 2015, current conservative estimates show that there will be a shortfall of between 127-157 Primary places in one end of the town alone, and a shortfall of around 135 Secondary places. And that's working in the LA's rather hopeless formula that allows NO children in flats that are being built, ONE child in 2-bed houses that are being built, 1.5 children in 3-bed houses that are being built, and 2 children in the few 4-bed houses that are being built.

My experience in this town is more like 2 DC's in flats, 2/3 in 2-bed houses, 3/4 in 3-bed houses, and anything from 4-10 DC's in 4-bed houses...

I think their estimates are going to be found to be wildly inaccurate, even allowing for houses where no school age children are resident...

Like I said, a perfect shitstorm approaching...

MerryCouthyMows Sat 16-Mar-13 01:14:34

Oh - and LA's last-ditch solution - some 11yo's and lots of 4yo's travelled 30 miles away to the next town to go to schools with spaces there.

They wouldn't have to pay the transport either, as my LA has a tiny rule embedded in their transport rules that says that they only have to cover the transport if the school offered for a 4yo is over 2 miles away or UNDER 7 miles away, (if its over 7 mikes away, they don't have to fund the transport unless it is for a specific SEN school...), and for an 11yo if the school offered is over 3 miles away and UNDER 9 miles away. (Again, with the codicil of that not applying if it is the only suitable SEN school for the DC.)

What a way to wriggle out of any delays in providing a new school - oh look, we are sending your 4yo 30 miles away to Reception. Transport? Not our problem - you are over 7 miles away.

You can appeal, but as all the schools locally haven't even got room for demountables, it's not as if they can even be FORCED to take more than 1/2 more pupils even on a successful appeal. What about the other 120/150 4yo's?!


MerryCouthyMows Sat 16-Mar-13 01:23:51

To the person asking about two-level primaries - my primary has had to expand upwards, first if all the upstairs classroom was used for KS1 classes (bulge class), it has been out if use for 1.5 years currently, but will be needed again next year.

This is because current Y6 is a very small intake - last of the 1FE yr groups. All other years are 2-FE now, except Y4, which is 3-FE.

So when Y6 leave, current Y4 will need the upstairs classroom again.

This school was actually built as a 0.5FE school 22 years ago, to cope with the overspill from the original village and estate schools. Another 2-FE Primary was opened 3.5 years ago, and we need ANOTHER now, plus this one expanding PAST it's possible maximum.

The foundations aren't strong enough to support any further upwards additions. That and the design of the building meant it was only possible to go up in one place, allowing for only one extra classroom.

That's the reason lots of schools don't expand upwards - the cost of shoring up the foundations like our school had to.

The LA wants the HT to take a bulge class every 3/4 years by losing the library as well, but this has so far been resisted!

MrsJamin Sat 16-Mar-13 07:39:55

Reading's shit hit the fan last year - lots of parents received a letter saying "I'm sorry we cannot allocate your child a place yet"- causing a lot of stress that their child would not have a school place come September. In the end they were given places just under 2 miles away - so they have long bus routes and you feel really sorry for them. The radius to get in on distance is very tiny so some were just caught in a black hole where any 4 year olds in a few particular roads didn't get a place - they were 0.25-0.35 miles from 3 schools. It was shocking, a true postcode lottery. The council seem a bit more organised this year but it remains to be seen whether they will send similar letters out this year. Thankfully DS1 is now in a good school and DS2 is assured entry under siblings being the priority to admit. The council reckon the reasons are not just estate building and immigration but also families who traditionally would have moved out to larger houses (they are mostly small 2/3 bed terraces), haven't done so because of the housing market. In West Reading we hope to get a new free school at Secondary because the council are unable to create a new school- they had to ask parents to apply for a free school - the system is ridiculous now.

BumpingFuglies Sat 16-Mar-13 08:25:31

We are in South Lincolnshire. When my SDC moved here with me, we could not get a reception place anywhere close - there are 2 primaries in the town, plus about 6 nearby village schools. There were Year 4 places available for DSS1. The LEA offered us a local place for DSS1 and a reception place for DSS2 10 miles away. Completely unworkable. Both DSS now go to school 10 miles away by taxi. Not ideal but at least they are together.

We are in an area where there has been a huge program of building new houses and a strong immigrant population. NONE of our services or schools have been expanded to cope. It's now driving locals out of the area, which is a shame.

BoffinMum Sat 16-Mar-13 08:33:29

Merry, they are making up their own transport rules there, and are obliged to pay. They'd back down immediately if someone stood their ground and involved the MP.

BoffinMum Sat 16-Mar-13 08:38:20

TalkinPeace, state maintained community schools, south Cambridge fringe. Masses of new houses being built and developers are funding the new schools.

tilder Sat 16-Mar-13 08:39:19

This thread does worry me. At the moment we live in a rural area with several good and undersubscribed schools. The concern is lack of children.

We are currently looking to move to an area with lots of church schools but as atheist it is not overly appealing plus they are changing admission requirementa to include church attendance. I have looked at catchment areas for schools but have no idea if the maps reflect reality. When I phone the schools they just tell me to look at the areas online. How do I find out about the actual catchments?.

MothershipG Sat 16-Mar-13 08:49:51

tidler Not sure about where you are but in most places schools do not handle admissions themselves and it's all down to the LEA so you need to be calling your council's admissions office. They should be able to tell you where you can find admissions criteria and the furthest places offered for the last round of admissions. Obviously they can't tell you how that may change in the future but it will give you a starting point.

PlasticLentilWeaver Sat 16-Mar-13 08:50:35

We moved in year last summer, due to DH new job, and the LA offered us nothing. No place at all. Hours of phone calls, I found a half empty school about 10 miles away in a different LA that DS could have a place at. But, it was in special measures, hence half empty. It also fed into a junior school in same situation.

We are in the very fortunate position that after some careful calculations and extreme belt tightening, we could go independent. It wasn't in the life plan, but giving our children stability was, so we decided this was a better choice than having to move school again if a place came up on a waiting list. I completely recognise that this is not an option for most people. That aside, it isn't the solution to the bigger problem either.

blackeyedsusan Sat 16-Mar-13 08:57:35

tilder, I think you have to find out the furthest admission last year to give you an estimate, then take a bit off that...

LaQueen Sat 16-Mar-13 08:57:48

PoppyWearer I found my self nodding vigorously to your post at 5.30pm.

We are a rural area, on the Leicestershire/Lincolnshire border. There are a lot of primaries around here with Outstanding/Very Good Ofsteds. We also have a fast train link into London and we still have free grammar schools.

Consequently, we have loads of affluent, professional families moving up here, from the London/South East...who in years gone by would probably have sent their children to public/private school.

But, nowadays they are reluctant to commit to that cost - and because of the first class free secondary education available here, they have arrived en masse...and the Dad can still commute, and be at King Cross within 55 minutes.

And, even if they don't physically move up here, they're still determined to get their children into our free GS. From September, there will be 10 boys, commuting up from King's Cross, every morning, to go to our boys grammar school.

It's insane, and local parents whose boys passed the 11+, but didn't get a place are furious (our boys GS doesn't have any catchment).

The comprehensive in our village was recently awarded an Outstanding Ofsted - but is still not considered good enough for many of the professional/affluent families around here, and they are hell bent on getting their children into grammar school.

RubyGates Sat 16-Mar-13 08:58:09

I thought I had it bad when DS1 was due to start secondary school 12 years ago and the borough had a 70 place shortfall. He was offered a place at a failing school about as far away from us as it was possible to be eventually.

We declined the place and got him into the newly-branded 'Islington Arts and Media Academy" (two boroughs over, but an easier journey) which was great until it all the old "problem children" were readmitted, their funding slashed, and their educational ethos squashed. We were lucky to get him into Cranbrook in Kent as a boarder at 13 plus. It was a nightmare.

Now I'm facing the same prospect again with DS2's primary. I have no desire to send him to any of the local schools, they are all over-subscribed, bursting at the seams, and struggling.

The council are adding bulge classes, building on the last few remaining bits of green, and (officially) denying that there's a problem. It's horrid and depressing.
It was obvious when DS2 was born that the midwifery services were over-stretched, which must surely translate to : will need more schools in 4/5 years time. But instead the council has built more and more housing, and more and more large families have moved into the area. Where's the logic in that?

If OH is employed by September we will either homeschool (I'll give up work), or send DS2 to the local private Christian Academy (£240 per month) (Strange curriculum but nice teachers and children) . If OH is still unemployed then we'll have to seriously think about moving into a "shed" in the IL's garden, just to be near some decent primaries with capacity.

WhereMyMilk Sat 16-Mar-13 08:59:58

Rural midlands village here. village school 3form entry. it's stuffed to the rafters with most classes at 31/32 pupils.

Couldn't get DD into village school, despite being able to See it from house-stressful appeals gone through before she got in...

Now bastard local council have decided that a developer can build an extra 300 houses on edge of village (protests were ignored) and nothing else will be provided for (school, GP, library etc) Stupid old woman councillor said it would be alright, they could put extra chairs in the classroom! WTAF?

LaQueen Sat 16-Mar-13 09:06:05

Where similar scenario in our rural Leics village.

David Wilson are descending on our village next year, to build a large estate on the fringes - despite huge, local protests.

Village school already filled to bursting - with many villagers unable to get their children in, and having to drive them 5/6 miles away to more remote village schools.

David Wilson have agreed to make a token cash donation to the school, which is just laughable. It won't provide extra classrooms, or teachers. And, they are building 4/5 bed family homes...but, there won't be any school places for the children.

Insane angry

MerryCouthyMows Sat 16-Mar-13 09:13:51

BoffinMum - you and I both know that, but it doesn't stop them from trying. One mum I know September just gone was offered a Primary that was 7.1 miles away as the crow flies for her 4yo, and was originally given no help with the transport despite being unable to drive. She was in bits, as the earliest bus to that village (we are in a town and she was offered an outlying village school due to lack of places) doesn't get to the school till 9.05am...

I ended up helping her fight the transport Dept of our LA and they now provide a Taxi - but she isn't allowed to go in the taxi and has to send her 4yo (July birthday) in the taxi. Parents evenings are horrendous for her.

MsPickle Sat 16-Mar-13 09:13:52

I'm another Lambeth person and was horrified to learn that last year there were 500 children without places as no application was submitted for them. Add that number into the mix already discussed up thread...

Mirage Sat 16-Mar-13 09:32:43

Actually,LaQueen your post had me nodding.We too have had loads of people from London move up here,who previously sent their children to private schools,and now are delighted to find an Outstanding school on their doorstep.It got to the point that every other week,the DDs would come home and announce a new child had joined their class and they came from London.Then there are a lot of pupils who were pulled out of the local preps and sent to the village primary and the parents in the nearby town who drive their children out here every day.It is madness.

gazzalw Sat 16-Mar-13 09:40:12

We are in SW London and live in a Borough with quite a marked geographical divide between the haves and have-nots. This has traditionally meant there's always been a pressure on places in the wealthier part of the Borough because historically that's where the best-performing schools have been.

We had problems getting our DS (now 12) into our preferred choice school or even our closest one, in a birth-dip year, even when previously he would have got into both. DW being aware of trends etc..., asked the 'population boom' question of the Council and it was flatly denied. Of course this is the time when there was a big influx of Polish people, some with small children. Surprise, surprise, DS's primary school was the first in the Borough to expand to accommodate the extra demand for places. And now just about all of the schools, with the exception of some of the high-achieving faith schools, have expanded and some have additional bulge classes too.

For DS's school it has meant that it has transformed from a very cosy, small school where everyone knew everyone into an entirely different school. The teachers are fantastic but there isn't the same friendly atmosphere and tribalism in the playground at drop-off/pick up is rife in a way that it never was before! Also, because it's stuck between a rock and a hard place, being neither one of the highly desirable (in social terms) nor one of the undesirable schools, it has a huge catchment area which spans virtually the whole Borough.

The 'outstanding' school in the area which is now the most sought after one in mid-Borough is transforming into a three form entry school and has already had to acquire park land to do so.

There are also schools using annexes a walk away from the main school. Not entirely satisfactory.

There has for years been talk of another school on the affluent side of the Borough but by the time the Council gives it the go-ahead no doubt the birth rate will be dipping.

Mindful of what's happened with primary schools, DW asked about increased secondary school provision (which will need to kick in for the 2014/15 intake) and was told by a Council Official "we have it in hand" but we have not noticed that secondary schools are being 'grown' to accommodate the looming expanded intakes.

The trouble is that by and large it seems that Councils operate reactively rather than pro-actively. I suspect this is as much down to economics as localised, ideological political war-mongering. But it's just not right.

Presumably the 2001 Census must have shown some indication of this population boom?

gallicgirl Sat 16-Mar-13 09:44:24

Live in SE Essex. One local council us expanding existing schools, including additional campuses because they don't want to build brand new school. I understand that current government policy means only new schools allowed are academies and free schools. This means the council would bear the cost of building the school then be forced to hand over all control of it.

MsPickle Sat 16-Mar-13 09:53:31

Someone made a point earlier (sorry,on phone so finding it not easy!) that the Ofsted rankings are possibly also partly to blame. That's been running around my head as I suspect there's something in that, not least in the way it's made it 'easier' to move into a catchment for 'your sort of school' if you've the money to do so. Pre publication of those results you had to know an area to know that sort of detail, now a quick google/estate agent link will tell you what you want to know. But as this thread shows schools can change character so fast/economic reasons shift the private/state balance, part of me thinks is it any wonder that LEAs, never known for the speed of response, are struggling to keep up and then add in the local and national politics-how do we fix it? And I mean that as a genuine question; how do we create a system where children can know which school they are going to in reasonable time and have access to decent education?

MerryCouthyMows Sat 16-Mar-13 10:01:20

MsPickle - Surely some of that 500 that didn't submit applications would have been DC's that are going to be HE? If not, why on earth weren't they chased up like they are in my LA?

tilder Sat 16-Mar-13 10:01:29

Thanks guys. I didn't know that (one of the primaries could have told me!). Will try that route. Will also ask about secondary as the only response I have had is that if we are in catchment and our children are at a catchment school they will get a place. Which seemed a bit strange to me.

I guess we will sion be joining the struggle to get children a place at school when older than reception. Joy.

DuchessofMalfi Sat 16-Mar-13 10:16:25

We live in a smallish town in the SW. There are four primary schools in our town, and I've heard that they are all due to be full this September, and possibly oversubscribed.

The school (state primary a couple of miles away) DD goes to was full last year, because there was a large take up of sibling places, but this year there will be some places available. DS should be able to get in. If he doesn't, we'll be struggling to find somewhere for him to go too.

MerryCouthyMows Sat 16-Mar-13 10:16:42

My DS's Primary is so overstretched that almost all classes have between 31-35 DC's in (the older they get, the larger the classes get).

The only TA's that can fit in the classroom are the 1-2-1's that are attached to DC's with statements. Which has led to the school illegally taking DC's OFF SA+ that should still be there due to outside involvement from medical professionals. This means that any DC with SN's that should be getting TA time through an IEP now isn't.

It's not the school's fault, but it means that for those DC's with SN's that require 15 hrs a week help or less that should be on SA /SA+ are being left unable to access education effectively because of space constrictions.

Something NEEDS to be done. But no government is willing to tackle the system effectively. It needs MASSIVE investment to bring the school places to where the DC are, rather than taking the DC's to where the school places are...

And if all schools were expected to be equal, and MADE to be equal, all providing an Oustanding education, all helping DC's with SN's to the same extent, all having the same ways of dealing with bullying, then maybe it would solve the problem.

Because then EVERYONE might be happy to send their DC's to their local school, knowing that their DC would get the same quality of education whether the school was in the middle of a council estate that measures highly on the deprivation index, or if the school was on a leafy suburb.

Why WOULD people accept a substandard education for their DC's and not do everything they can to get their DC's into a better school if the schools aren't equal?

I personally would rather HE than send my DC's to a 4/5/6+ FE primary school. Their SN's would make that far too overwhelming. Ditto a 4-18 school as is being proposed as the school that should become my catchment school.

Each to their own. My DS2 will start to struggle even more next year when their tiny school has to cope with 15 classes when the school was built to hold 3.5 classes originally, and at its maximum expansion, the facilities (not classrooms but halls etc, lunch areas etc, were expanded to hold just 7 classes.

My DS's get just 10 mins for lunch now. And there is talk next year of that dropping even further because a very high percentage of parents pay for hot meals - there is an 85% uptake on hot meals here, in a school that currently has 420 pupils eating in a hall that can't hold more than 90 pupils at a time.

And there will be an EXTRA 30+ next year...

MerryCouthyMows Sat 16-Mar-13 10:17:56

They're doing forest school instead of PE for one lesson a week now to make use of the local Country Park, as the field & hall aren't big enough.

Good idea, but it's been done BECAUSE they haven't the facilities for their current pupils!

DuchessofMalfi Sat 16-Mar-13 10:20:05

I should have added that DS is classed as an out of area sibling so is bumped further down the list for place allocation.

tiggytape Sat 16-Mar-13 10:36:23

We were one of the recent London families to be affected at secondary level. We applied for a school place to start Sept 2012 (and the 2000/2001 birth year was supposedly a low one - as low as it gets before the boom!).
We applied to our local schools and some further out that we may have qualified for on other grounds (we get 6 options in London).

On March 1st last year we got a letter to say 'it is not possible to make any offers at this time.' We were totally stunned. We'd always known that it is totally possible not to get your local school if there is dense areas of housing nearer the school (which there is) but we always assumed the council would find a school somewhere. Well they don't.
We kept having the following conversation with neighbours and other parents for months:

'But why didn't you apply to XXXX comp?'

'We did apply to XXXX comp.'

'So is it a mistake then? You live really close.'

'They're full up with people who live closer.'

'But it’s your nearest school. They have to offer you a place. Ring them up and tell them its a mistake because it's your nearest school.'

'It doesn't matter. 200 people have siblings or live closer than we do'

'So where have you been offered then?'

'No where'

'But they have to offer you somewhere. Ring them up and tell them they've made a mistake because you haven't been offered a place.'

'It’s not a mistake. All the schools are full and we live too far from any of them to qualify for a place. There's no school place in this borough or any surrounding borough to go to.'

Our experience has scared the hell out of loads of people because they now realise there are certain roads in our borough where you don't qualify for any school at all and the other schools (even the bad ones) are too full to offer a space. You just have to wait on the lists and pray for a space to come up, try your chances at appeal or go private.

tiggytape Sat 16-Mar-13 10:38:57

.. we got in off the list. But only by luck. There was no special process for people like us who had no place offered. For example you don't go to the top of the waiting lists just because you have no school place. You have to take your place in the queue with children who have one school place already but want a different one.
We applied on time too. Goodness knows what happens to people wh omove the the borough after the closing date!

gallicgirl Sat 16-Mar-13 10:45:27

What happens if the child is not offered any place as described above?

Does your child simply not go to school until a place comes available?

edam Sat 16-Mar-13 10:46:28

Tiggy, I've heard of that before - kids who don't have any place not being bumped up the queue - and it's shit. Councillors really should be changing the policy to make sure children without a place are top of the list. Glad your dd or ds has finally got somewhere, but what a ridiculous amount of stress to put you through.

Manchesterhistorygirl Sat 16-Mar-13 11:12:50

I've just a had a nose in the planning system, for other reasons, and discovered that there is a planning application in for an extension to an existing classroom at ds1's school. Which as I can't access the planning docs, and neither are they at school (I was unaware if any planning permission being applied for), I have to assume means that somewhere along the line more playground space will be lost.

The annoying thing is that ds1's school just finished a huge amont of building work and they're intending to start again! Our council are utterly, utterly incompetent! Furthermore, I'm in a rant here, as I mentioned upthread, the preschool has unprecedented demand for September, but the same council has out the building they use under threat of closure to save money! There is no nursery provision in the village other than preschool.

lrichmondgabber Sat 16-Mar-13 11:20:19

Mr Gove does not even look up to the job he has been given. No sign of intellect

lrichmondgabber Sat 16-Mar-13 11:34:32

Victoria Derbyshire says primary schools are not over crowded in South Wesat London

tiggytape Sat 16-Mar-13 11:45:04

I'm not going to defend Gove but this predates him by many years.
My son was born in 2000 and couldn't get a school place so we're talking about the time of the 1997 Labour government who took over from the Tories and the year before Labour's second win. The current government have not done a lot to help but previous governments did nothing either. It has been a long time in the making!

The other issue that people haven't touched on very much but is a factor in some areas is the 'I'm alright Jack' attitude of parents who benefit from the sibling policy because they're parents of slightly older children who got in before the system crashed or residents opposition.
So many applications over previous years to make permanent expansions have been fiercely opposed by parents of current pupils and residents living locally. Don't get me wrong - if you buy a house next to a little 1 form entry Victorian school, the last thing you want is port-a-cabins dotted all over the playground, two storey extensions right up the boundaries and hundreds of extra children screaming at playtime and all the extra traffic every afternoon because people who work have to come by car even if their home is local.

Equally if you chose a lovely little 2 form entry school for your shy 5 year old, you’re probably not going to be thrilled to hear that the computer room is going, the playground is being halved and the corridors will be crammed with 60 extra pupils per year group making the once friendly little school much bigger and more anonymous.

There are areas where parents of 5 year olds who know they will get a local school place (by virtue of having an older sibling already at the school) live virtually next door to parents who no longer have any hope of getting into that local school at all due to birthrates. The ‘lucky’ parents want to maintain the characteristics of the school they love but the ‘unlucky’ parents are happy to see a few more crammed in if it means they don’t have to leave their house at 7am with their 4 year old and newborn baby to get a bus to a school 2 miles away. It isn’t just councils who have scuppered things although I agree that even current expansion plans don’t always seem very coherent or well though out.

waxlyrical Sat 16-Mar-13 11:53:24

Many Councils are struggling as they are under immense pressure to allow new housing to be built but at the same time the government is weakening their powers to secure new infrastructure such as schools. There are several new housing developments in this area (rural midlands) with new primary schools proposed but whether these will really be delivered remains to be seen.

MsPickle Sat 16-Mar-13 19:18:38

merry I hope at least a decent proportion of those are HE but I suspect most are those who haven't/can't navigate the system. A friends cleaner was in bits about a lack of reception place, English isn't her first language and she was baffled. A few middle class phone calls and a place was found at her 2nd choice school. The list that the borough held wasn't up to date/accurate.

The comment about flats was also interesting earlier, our bit of Lambeth is changing fast and from the GP practices onwards there's concern about the pressures they'll face & the cuts in funding. I'm scared about a lack of Sept 2014 place but know we'll sort it somehow. I fear for the children for whom sorting it isn't an option.

As for pre school places, that's just a bloody joke.

Sometimes I wish we could move to an underpopulated area. But DH in particular has a London based career. And I can't see that a move to commuter belt will help us. I keep thinking I should find out about HE now, 'just in case'.

Sigh. But Cameron et al are too busy playing party politics to do anything meaningful. By which I mean, as someone said, feeling that your child can happily go to your nearest school

TuttoRhino Sat 16-Mar-13 19:53:40

We've just moved from Lambeth to Lewisham. Our old flat was in a similar area to some of the Lambeth dwellers on the thread. The closest community school to our old flat has pretty much been turned into a three form entry which seemed too big. I grew up overseas and always went to really small schools. There were a couple of small CoE schools nearby but we aren't believers and stood little chance of getting in.

Where we live now we should get our DD into our first choice school, based on distance, especially as it is doing a bulge year in September. If we don't we're screwed, as the next three nearest schools are all outstanding and totally and utterly over-subscribed. We're way out of all of their current catchment boundaries which are all between 300-400 metres.

I can't even think about what it will be like with secondary school places.

MrsMcEnroe Sat 16-Mar-13 20:19:35

We live in Bournemouth where there is a huge shortage of primary school places. I think DS is in the last year group (currently in Y4) where there are just about enough places in the borough for each child to have a school place - albeit not necessarily in their catchment school.

DD, now in Y1, is in a year group where there was a shortfall of 300-400 Year R places; this was situation was predicted in the newspapers at least 2 years before we had to apply for her school place, and the LEA acknowledges that it is drastically short of school places, which of course will only get worse as they approach secondary school. It is a terrible situation to be in.

Given that we live in a town where there is a lot of immigration, both from elsewhere in the UK (articularly from London) and from abroad, the waiting lists for primary schools are getting longer and longer during each academic year. Many schools had to put on a bulge class last year, or are doing so this coming year, and there is talk of this becoming permanent and/or new primary schools being built; no idea when or where. This is all straight from the horse's mouth (i.e. the Head of Admissions at Bmouth Council). Anybody moving into the area with a child who needs an in-year transfer to a primary school in YR, Y1 or Y2 will not have a chance of getting allocated a school that scores higher than level 3 on Ofsted (I know that not everyone sets great store by Ofsted reports, but many do) and they are highly unlikely to be offered a school place close to their home. Like someone upthread, our DD is currently sitting on the waiting lists for a state school place whilst being educated at a private school; this is not a situation that is sustainable for us in the long-term and in fact we may well have to give notice next term, in the hope that a place comes up for her before September (shes no.2 on the waiting list for our catchment school, and no.14 (!) on the waiting list at DS' school as, although she has a sibling there, we are out of catchment although only 0.8 miles away from the school). May have to home-school her for a term or two until a place becomes available as we have pretty much run out of money.

DS' junior school, by the way, has 4-form entry as standard, and currently has a fifth Y3 bulge class and the linked infant school will have a fifth YR bulge class in September. The infrastructure simply cannot cope with this; there is nowhere to hold whole-school assemblies, computers are now on trollies rather than being stationed permanently in classrooms, the kids eat packed lunches in their classrooms, the surrounding streets are bloody lethal at school-run time, the gates are jammed with kids and parents, the infant school's outside space is tiny ..... and there are now additional numbers of children who need SEN support etc (including my DS!) so resources are really, really stretched.

As others have said - these problems have been building for years and years. It's wicked that nothing has been done about it before now.

I will happily sign any petition etc going that might get the powers-that-be to sit up and take notice ...

MsPickle Sun 17-Mar-13 09:45:13

Perhaps we need a toddler/small child protest? Buggy March on Westminster? Time running out of snacks as we get close?!

Or, in an era of increasing privatisation launch a reclaim private fees/full time childcare fees campaign for anyone who's had to use those routes because they didn't have a place?

BoffinMum Sun 17-Mar-13 09:50:34

It may predate Gove but he is at this precise moment in time ultimately responsible for ensuring every child who needs one has a school place he or she can realistically access.

A class action of angry parents would be interesting! Or more realistically a judicial review of his £1 billion spend on academies over 2 years instead of generating new places where they are required (and I have not even costed up free schools in that equation).

andiem Sun 17-Mar-13 09:52:22

IN SW London where I live DS2 didn't get a primary place we went private suddenly everyone has found god..............

Manchesterhistorygirl Sun 17-Mar-13 10:33:14

Wait everyone it's ok! Gorgeous George is about to give those of us who don't receive tax credits a £1k tax break on childcare, oh no wait IDS, that charming champion of the parent, has decided to scrap it.

I truly don't have the words at times!

On a related note, sorry for the hijack, but could any of you out on the Wirral please pm me with details of the school situation there please. Dh is working out there and we are debating our options.

Domjolly Tue 19-Mar-13 12:47:58

I am not sure is it not a case that simply most parents are trying to get there children into the same outstanding schools

We have schools in. Our area people have to be dragged kicking and screaming to that have plenty of roo, but no oe wants them

tiggytape Tue 19-Mar-13 12:52:08

Yes Dom - in some areas it can be that btu that's a separate problem
In lots of areas, the figures speak for themselves - there are 500 more children applying for a school than there are school places. Not 500 more children than decent school places but 500 more children than all school places that exist in total.

MerryCouthyMows Tue 19-Mar-13 13:05:17

Tiggytape is right - there are areas where NO schools have spaces, not even the ones in 'Special Measures'. Yet there are still DC's in that area without places ANYWHERE, because 1,500 DC's cannot fit into 1,000 school places...

tiggytape Tue 19-Mar-13 13:14:25

When we got no school place offered, I don't mean we weren't offered a nice one, I mean we weren't offered one at all. Because they were all full. Even the bad ones. Even the ones miles away from our home as well as all of those nearby.
And if it is this bad at secondary level in some places, I feel very sorry for people with younger children hearing it is twice as bad at primary level.
It all worked out in the end - but only through luck on a waiting list where we had to take our place and couldn't jump the queue - there was no magic solution offered other than to wait and hope something would turn up.

PlasticLentilWeaver Tue 19-Mar-13 13:23:35

We weren't offered anything either. It was only my own hunting through neighbouring LEAs that found a place, my own LEA abdicated all responsibility. The fact that it was in special measures and we decided not to take the place is neither here nor there, the LEA simply couldn't be bothered to do their job and just said there were no places.

Mirage Tue 19-Mar-13 19:56:40

All the county primary schools around us were full up this year.Even the one which had less than 10 pupils, had a full reception class this year.The lady next door but one to me failed to get her DD into the village school and tried every primary within a 10 mile radius,and there was not one space.

MerryCouthyMows Wed 20-Mar-13 05:40:12

Out of curiosity, if an area really HASN'T got a school place for a child, what happens to that child?

Surely the LA has to do something? Do they provide a tutor? Do they force a school to take an additional pupil over the ICS regs?

If they do nothing, what happens when that child is still not in school after their 5th birthday? What happens if it gets to halfway through Reception year and they still haven't got a school place? Do the parents then get the EWO sent out because their DC is still not in school?

What about if it gets to halfway through Y1 and the DC is still not in school?

Has that happened? Where a parent is unable or unwilling to HE the DC, for whatever reason, maybe low educational level themselves, or they are out at work, unable to travel to the neighbouring area due to lack of transport, or simply because it was always their intention to send the DC to school, and the DC is still not in school?

Do they get in trouble for not providing their school age DC with a suitable education? Surely that would be breaking the Education Act that states that every child should be receiving some form of education by the term after their 5th Birthday?

Surely in that case, the parent has a case against the LA for forcing them to HE against their wishes?

Confused about the eventual outcome...

MerryCouthyMows Wed 20-Mar-13 05:46:02

And I'm concerned about this given the fact that they year DS3 is due to start school, there will be a shortage of 157 places in the North end of my town (where I am), and a shortage of 22 places in the South side of my town (which is inaccessible from the North side by public transport in rush hour, at least not to be ON TIME for school start...)

Worried that as DS3 has no sibling link, we are already outside the last catchment area for ANY Primary in our area (black spot), and he won't have a sibling link as DS2 will have left by the time he starts, that it will be DS3 left without a school place.

And that will be complicated by his medical needs.

And compounded by his other SN's.

<<Keeps fingers crossed that Statementing process that has already started goes through ok for SN Nursery, as then I will have the pick if the MS Primaries...>>

If not, we are probably going to be in the situation where DS3 ends up with NO place at all...

tiggytape Wed 20-Mar-13 08:46:40

Merry - there is an emergency measure called Fair Access Protocol.
This means that if every single school within a wide radius (say 7-10 miles or so) has no vacant spaces, the council can force one of them to take an extra child an go above numebrs. The parents don't get to choose which school this is - the council decide which school can best cope with an extra pupil so it may still be a poor school or miles from home but at least it is a place.

If your DS's addistional / medical needs are already diagnosed or documented, you may get priority at certain schools because some schools (not all) put medical criteria above siblings or above distance.

If you found yourself with no school place and were the only one in that situation, chances are Fair Access Protocol would get you a place somewhere (not necessarily a school in your half of the town though).
If you were one of 150 people with no place, chances are the council would ask all local primary schools to take a bulge class so 5 schools would be asked to take an extra 30 pupils for 1 year only.

I have heard of situations where neither was happened but am unsure how hard the parents pushed for a solution / if they knew about FAP etc. Some children have (wrongly) been told that the council can wait until after they've turned 5 to find them a place and left them at home until then.
Some councils have supplied a home tutor or a once a week study group. Whether this is 'allowd' is debatable.

If you find yourself with no place, get on every waiting list you can, hassle the council for weekly updates, ask about FAP and bulge classes and take every single school you've listed to appeal.

RubyGates Wed 20-Mar-13 09:08:34

As for providing a tutor, no, I don't think they do.
There are/is herds a large number of school age children visible every day in our part of the world shopping with their parents/hanging out in the local cafes.

I know a family of three girls, the oldest of whom (7) didn't get a school place for about 6 months after the family moved into the area.

They are not HE, they are, in the main, families who have moved into the area without any research simply because they have an appropriate ethnic/cultural support network here, without realising that the area is already stuffed with small chlildren and that the local council DON' T have any more capacity for school places. (And I've been on the receiving end of more than one unpeasant barrage from an outraged parent about this).

The local surestarts/children's centres are having to provide extra sessions for their younger siblings whilst simultaneously having their budgets cut.

gazzalw Wed 20-Mar-13 09:15:15

When our Borough asked for suggestions regarding solutions to the shortfall in primary school places, DW thought outside the box and suggested that it would be cheaper to send the children without places to pre-prep schools - needless to say that went down like a lead-balloon grin.

It is more than worrying though....

tiggytape Wed 20-Mar-13 09:16:56

Ruby - people moving into a new area often face very real problems getting a school place. However that isn't to imply a lack of planning on their part. Some people have to move for work, family or other reasons and do so knowing full well they'll struggle to get into a local school.
That doesn't make it their fault and they have every right to complain long and loud if they've not been found a place within 6 months - that is not acceptable. A local school must be forced to take that child and accept a bigger class size.

The problem being discussed however is different.
Currently the number of 4 year olds living in certain towns outstrips the total number of reception places within a 10 mile radius.
It therefore follows that there will not be enough places for all of them even if, as the council assumes 15% will eventually go private or move.
This isn't the parents fault at all. The birth rate soared from 2008 onwards, the number going private has slumped and there simply aren't enough places for people who've lived in the same place all their lives. It isn't all down to newcomers and the same is now more true of 10 year olds living in areas where there won't be enough secondary school places to take all of them.

RubyGates Wed 20-Mar-13 09:20:26

Tiggy, I'm talking about people who move for non-work reasons. Most of them who end up here don't/can't work. They move here for community/family support, and get outraged that there is not a limitless supply of instant school places.

Obviously if you have to move for work reasons that's very different. But it seems that many families don't think beyind the fact that Auntie/Uncle/Grandma/ lives here and there will be a happy ending.

RubyGates Wed 20-Mar-13 09:22:00

Plus I'm a librarian, not working for the education department and swearing and cursing at me is not appropriate in any circumstances. I'm trying to help.

tiggytape Wed 20-Mar-13 09:36:11

Ruby - that's grim. I assumed from your post you were Head of Admissions or something. I agree - you shouldn't be getting the abuse from the parents over this!

People do however have the right to live where they want to and being close to family is as important as work reasons for many.
It is a bit like saying the people who've lived there for 10 years should be told to stop having babies because the 2018 school intake is already full and if they choose to keep adding to the numbers, they've only got themselves to blame when the schools can't give them a place.

Each area has reasons for the shortage but the outcome is the same.
You have people flocking for family reasons.
Other areas have high birth and immigration numbers.
Other towns have people trapped in flats because they can nolonger afford houses so great clusters of children now all live a stones throw from the schools.
Wealthy areas blame the economy - they used to rely on 20 or 30% of people paying for private schools but now they all fight for state school places too.
In some areas it is because councils closed schools that are now needed.
In other areas it is because hundreds of new homes have been approved but no new schools to serve them.
The list is very long and in each area people are righly cross that this has meant existing children (and of course newcomers) cannot get into any local schools

lljkk Wed 20-Mar-13 09:40:20

if an area really HASN'T got a school place for a child, what happens to that child?

LA is obliged to find the child a place but it could be half way across the county (transport would be provided). There is a standard appeals procedure, waiting lists, etc., but I've figured out our LEA doesn't adhere to all the national admissions guidelines, either.

We were keen to move to Wymondham in Norfolk but decided against because of the nightmare impossibility of getting DC into any local school. Anyone know if Cambridge is just as bad?

RubyGates Wed 20-Mar-13 10:37:16
MerryCouthyMows Thu 21-Mar-13 12:27:10

If the place is halfway across the county, what is classed as a 'reasonable' travel time in the provided transport?

30 minutes? 45 minutes? An hour? There's no way most people would want their 4yo to have a journey time of more than an hour to get to school, and rush hour traffic has to be accounted for.

Would the LA send them halfway across the county irrespective of the journey time, or is there any regulations on what is classed as an 'acceptable' and 'reasonable' journey time for a 4yo?

MerryCouthyMows Thu 21-Mar-13 12:29:30

I'm asking because one of the solutions my LA is currently mooring is to send 4yo's in minibuses or hired school buses to the next town over, 30+ miles away, to a school in Special Measures, that during rush hour would take 90 mins+ to get to...

I personally don't think that that is a viable solution - I wouldn't want my 11yo DS1 to have a journey time to Secondary school of more than an hour, much less a 4yo.

MerryCouthyMows Thu 21-Mar-13 12:30:11

Mooring = mooting. Autocorrect.

tiggytape Thu 21-Mar-13 12:31:38

If you are allocated a school more than 2 miles away by the shortest walking route you are entitled to free transport. However, that does not apply is you asked for a school so far away - only if you get allocated it because your choices are full.

In terms of reasonable distance to travel, anything up to an hour each way is regarded as reasonable. It is far from ideal of course and I agree many wouldn't want this but it does have to happen in some cases.

tiggytape Thu 21-Mar-13 12:47:01

unless you ask for a school more than 2 miles away because that's the closest one that can take you of course.

As to whether 30 miles is more than an hour journey - I don't know how they would decide. In theory very few 30 minute routes take more than an hour but of course in town centre traffic even a 3 mile journey can take that on some days!

MerryCouthyMows Thu 21-Mar-13 17:27:10

My 1.998 mile journey takes me 25 minutes in morning rush hour...

There's no way they could get to the town 30 miles away, in morning rush hour, in less than 90 mins, IMO.

But all the village schools in between the two towns are too oversubscribed too. So they can't send them there. And NONE of the local schools have ANY more expansion room!

tiggytape Thu 21-Mar-13 17:45:06

Merry - I sympathise totally. I was more thinking out loud about how they define 'reasonable' in terms of miles or minutes when rush hour traffic means not much ground can be covered in a relatively long period of time.
It sounds like you desperately need new school places but whether they can come in time is going to be the problem.

CouthySaysEatChoccyEggs Thu 21-Mar-13 23:23:02

Oh, we KNOW they aren't going to come in time - the 'new' Primary school that opened 3 years ago was opened a full 10 YEARS after it was desperately needed. It was full before it opened...

Then the school we are waiting for was meant to be opened 6 YEARS ago. It will (hopefully) be open September 2016 - but only for Reception. Which means that DS3 will be a year too old.

Then again, that's how they intended to open the 'new' Primary too - and were swept away with the demand for places (Can't see how, they KNEW they had built 3 full housing estates in that area...) that they HAD to open it up to all year groups.

The same thing will happen with this one.

We might be slightly luckier with the extra Secondary places needed - but that's because they are going to build an 'additional site' for a pre-existing Secondary, rather than a 'new' school. I don't see it being open for September 2015 when it is needed, mind you. They are being wildly optimistic in that, in my view, when you consider that they haven't even decided on the exact site yet...

So I could be facing DS2 without a Secondary place AND DS3 without a Primary place AT THE SAME TIME.

<<Lies down in a darkened room at the sheer thought of that...>>

tiggytape Fri 22-Mar-13 08:48:49

Couthy - that sounds a lot like our area. The council gave permission to build (much needed) dense housing developments and then seem shocked beyond belief to discover people moved in with children - who'd have thought it - family homes full of families?! They had no plan at all to absorb these extra children into already full local schools.
What they also didn't anticipate was so many families would stay in flats even after having 2 or more children and wouldn't move to a new area for cheaper, larger houses as families used to do.

The reason the problem has been allowed to continue and escalate may be partly due to the public pressure - or lack of it - for councils to resolve this. For most people it is a one year only problem and quickly forgotten after it is resolved so whilst strength of feeling is high while they have no place, most parents stop pestering and campaigning once their own children are in.

Many people are lucky enough to get a child in on a low birthrate year and have their high-birthrate-sibling get automatic entry so it doesn't touch them. People who have horrible trouble getting any school at all eventually get allocated something even if it takes months and is miles away. The problem eventually goes away and they stop hassling about it. The people following behind - those with 9 year olds and 3 year olds often don't even know about the problem until it hits them. So many people naively assume they'll get into their local school no problem and cannot believe it when they find out they won't.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now