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NO primary school places - portacabin city!Help!!

(14 Posts)
wotaracket Sat 25-Jun-11 21:56:42

I don't know if this is particularly acute in our area (Walthamstow) or it is across the board, but our LEA is in such a mess that there are nearly 500 kids without school places for next school year. The causes of this are many and varied but the net result of a total absence of planning is that for the past 5 years they have been bunging extra reception classes in willy-nilly to existing schools - some unfortunate places being given up to three in one year!! This year it is my kids fab school which is to take some of the pain, and it appears the leadership have been bullied into taking a double extra class with permission to make it quadruple, with apparently no consultation. 60 extra kids in a school already bulging at the seams is terrifying, and I know they will be back with more next year. We are educated parents with other options, but feel afinity with this relatively deprived area and community. Do we move now, before my dd1 hits secondary school (which isnt great anyway since we have boy as well and want them to stay together)? 10 of our 11 NCT friends are either in throws of moving or planning to asap. It just all feels so crappy and miserable and forced. Anyone else - esp in London - in same situation.

veritythebrave Sat 25-Jun-11 22:02:47

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

wotaracket Sat 25-Jun-11 22:08:12

Thank you. Felt like I was going mad. They have put in quadruple portacabin units at some schools that look hideous, and I know are noisy and depressing. Feel torn between doing what I know is probably best for our kids (ie jumping ship asap) and feeling committed to local area. Know we will probably go (like everyone else seems to be) but just wanted to guage how normal the LEA's response (or lack of) is. Surely 3 class intake moving to 6 (that is 6 reception classes on same grounds as previously) cannot be right or normal?

admission Sat 25-Jun-11 22:11:37

The problem is that the local authority does not know where the pupils of reception age are. They do not have and cannot get because of data protection issues the records of local doctors./ health etc.
That means they do not know where the expansion needs to take place even if they know that they will need more places (people tend to move a lot) Being realistic mobiles are the only sensible short term answer but it does put enormous strain on the schools. What the LAs are generally really bad at is building permanent increases in school capacity to remove the mobiles from the site.

wotaracket Sat 25-Jun-11 22:21:31

The kids at our school will be eating packed lunches in their classrooms (already happening at many schools locally), and the very limited playground space will be anihilated. Is a 5 or 6 class intake not just insane? All parents who can are considering exit strategies and I feel now that we have to do the same. If all parents who are in a position to do this, actually go, the effect on the schools (given that they are the most vocal/involved etc) will be devastating. Three sets of friends who were considering moving to this area from neighbouring Hackney/Stoke Newington have pulled out due to crisis. I think we must be one of the worst. Anyway, pass me the wine!

Isitreally Sun 26-Jun-11 17:58:05

Bulge classes are a big issue in and around London. The issue affects the suburbs as well. People spend the preschool years hoping the "good" schools are forced encouraged to take extra pupils so that their children will have a school place but then a few years down the line, the parents with children already in the schools (sometimes the same parents) campaign against endless, last minute expansions which stretch resources to breaking point.

There is no question that it's not good for a school to double its reception numbers overnight but it's also awful that so many children are being sent to schools out of Borough or waiting the whole Summer holidays with no school place confirmed at all.

Admissions is right - even after years of mobiles and temporary solutions, nobody seems to be getting to grips with the real problems or working to ensure expansions are permanent and well thought out.

Miggsie Sun 26-Jun-11 18:07:42

Richmond upon Thames has bulge classes all over the place and 180 kids with no place offered at all. The most popular school are building on their playing fields...the problem is that when birth rate was falling and the area was really really rich they closed schools and sold off land for cash. They also relied on the massive number of private schools in the area to take the load.
Result is there has not been any schools built in years and the recession means people who used to use private need state schools and it's a real mess.

Also, LEA's only seem to do things when utterly forced to and it is easier to do nothing and pass the pain onto the schools.

IndigoBell Sun 26-Jun-11 18:12:49

There are 2 problems.

1. They don't know how many kids will apply for a place in reception. All their data projections are based on how many kids were born in borough hospitals 4 years previously.....

2. Building new schools is very expensive, and the LEAs just don't have the money for that......

wotaracket Sun 26-Jun-11 18:35:25

The general concensus amongst my friends seems to be, it is fine for a couple of years to let them be crammed in like this - especially in an excellent school like ours. However, since it is getting worse, anyone who can is plotting an exit strategy (us included) well before secondary school. BSF is cancelled, and God knows what the situation will be like when this lot hit secondary school. Inevitably this means that the more involved and active members of the community, as well as the wealthier and more mobile disappear, the school gets those kids who are from more transient or difficult backgrounds, and the school has so much on its plate, that despite the incredible efforts of the teachers, it slowly slides. Private schools were never an issue round here, but there is massive migration due to cheap rents, and multi-occupancy housing. When the housing benefit rules change we are likely to be further inundated...

wotaracket Sun 26-Jun-11 18:37:31

I meant to say that I totally agree with Miggsie, and the schools and Governors are left to carry the can for this, when LEA and Local Councils have just flagrantly failed to plan properly. This is not the fault of the schools themselves.

Icoulddoitbetter Sun 26-Jun-11 18:43:04

OP am I allowed to ask which schools are having the problems? We're in the area too, but a few years away from needing school places. Our plan was to move out in a good few years which means that our eldest DC is likely to go through the whole of primary here. We are also looking to move (within the borough) and it would be useful to know where the main issues are at the moment. I know the schools near to where we are now have very good reputations.

wotaracket Sun 26-Jun-11 18:56:50

Did you mean in Walthamstow Icoulddoitbetter? If you are anywhere in Walthamstow, or Leyton or Leytonstone, your local school will have been affected to some degree (at least one bulge year inserted, but in most cases three or more). Coppermill (one class intake, two extra), Stoneydown (one class intake, three extra), Greenleaf (moved from one to two intake a while ago and now extra bulge year x2), Winns (moved from two to three classes a couple of years ago,now taking two extra bulge classes) , Chapel End (three class intake, taking bulge class and expansion plans to sixclass intake), Mission Grove (bulge class last year now moving to three classes). Hillyfields (three class intake, taken on three bulge classes). I could go on. Please bear in mind that these children are invariably being accommodated without any extra space. ICT rooms, libraries and all other available spaces are being taken. Once this is exhausted the march of the portacabins begins. Ask at any school gate.

Rosebud05 Sun 26-Jun-11 23:12:43

Waltham Forest does seem to be one of the most affected boroughs, along with Barnet and Richmond.

Isitreality summised the situation very accurately - it depends which side of the admission fence you are on whether you think 'thank goodness my child has a place somewhere locally' or 'shit, our school's going downhill as it's expanding too rapidly'.

It's possibly a bit unfair to talk about 'being inundated' when the housing benefit rules change - I don't suppose benefit claimants want to be made homeless and move from their local areas.

Anyway, I hope that things aren't as bad as they seem and that your kids enjoy school.

wotaracket Mon 27-Jun-11 01:08:57

Sorry Rosebud05 I didn't mean to sound as heartless re the housing benefit changes, and I genuinely do feel for those people who are being forced to move. They will also face the stress of the lack of school places. I also understand totally the stress on the parents who are without a school place. I think I just want a sustainable permanent solution really, and some strategy, discussion or honesty about the situation from the powers that be. The kids love school by the way, and we will hang in there as long as we can. I reckon another 18 months or so.

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