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Winchester- redrawing all its catchment boundaries...

(54 Posts)
Tansie Sat 08-Sep-12 15:08:45


It is more 'ooi' but might it affect you?

I'm sure it will affect many. Bear with me here: I am thinking of the Romsey situation. Romsey is 8 miles from Winchester and 3 miles from northern Southampton which had some dire and seriously failing comps. 2 have closed and have been amalgamated into a shiney new religious sponsored academy (!). As a result, a fair few parents are sending their DC from northern Southampton to Romsey. This has meant it's harder for DC in 'outlying' villages to get a place in the Romsey comps if they're non-catchment and it will affect DC from across the county boundary, 6 miles away who fail the 11+ and who want a comp not a SM as the alternative. It has also meant (hush) that there have been a few more 'social issues' at the 2 Romsey comps as its intake becomes more 'socially diverse' with the Southampton kids intake. SO quite a few parents take fright and send their DC all the way to Winchester, to Kings. Also, where I live, our local secondaries catchments bisect the estate. One end goes to the best performing comp in the county, academically; the other to a school with some real issues. SO some of those parents also choose to send to either one of the Romsey comps or Kings in Winchester.

I wonder if that option will exist post this reshuffle?

Ariadne78 Sun 09-Sep-12 19:19:25

I'm surprised to hear that parents from Southampton and Romsey get kids into Kings because I live just 8 miles the other side of Winchester and my DS would not get into Kings. In fact he would struggle to get in to Westgate or HB, which are both our side.

Tansie Sun 09-Sep-12 20:49:04

I don't know about HB but WG catchment is entirely 'city' plus some very circumscribed villages mainly to the south and SW, I believe. The map of the Winchester schools catchments are plain weird, one village in this school, the next in that apparently further school! However, much of KS catchment is fields, and, of course, is over the the west of the city, where Romsey lies.

DC certainly get in from Romsey, you see them waiting at bus stops, and from Eastleigh where they get off the bus outside Quilley, the school their parents have sought to avoid grin.

Are you towards Basingstoke?

Lemonsole Sun 09-Sep-12 21:27:06

The catchments at present seem weird to outsiders because they are carefully balanced to ensure that each of the three schools takes its share of vulnerable and affluent children. It's why all three schools are well-regarded: there are no honey pots or sinks. Just three schools.

A lot of us are opposed to these changes at WG because it will become more affluent and skew the balance. sad

Tansie Sun 09-Sep-12 22:16:38

Though, tbf, looking at the Big Picture, Winchester, being the most expensive city in the UK property-wise, outside London; and given that Winchester has been voted the most desirable city to live in in terms of 'lifestyle'... there's aren't really that many 'vulnerable' DC relative to the whole population, are there?! The overwhelming 'majority' of the catchments of all 3 schools could be described as 'honeypot'!

You'd actually have to carefully scribe lines through villages, including that bit but excluding that bit if you were really going to do that, wouldn't you? As opposed to just drawing a ring around a village, which is what the catchments look like! (Thinking Colden Common, and the odd, figure of 8 catchment of WG!)

TalkinPeace2 Sun 09-Sep-12 22:27:03

^ It has also meant (hush) that there have been a few more 'social issues' at the 2 Romsey comps as its intake becomes more 'socially diverse' with the Southampton kids intake. ^
Speaking as one of those Southampton parents, you are talking UTTER crap - the coke problem always came from the villages over the last 20 years.

and most of the others are no longer comps - they are academies (albeit not sponsored) get over it.

There is a CRITICAL need for a total rethink of catchment boundaries in Southern Hampshire - the fact that 600 kids get funded buses THROUGH the Romsey catchment to get to Mountbatten is clearly insane
as is the bus that picks up from outside a Southampton school to take kids to a Hampshire school four miles away ...
and the gerrymandering of the Thornden catchment has to be seen to be believed.

Winchester is just the start.

Tansie Sun 09-Sep-12 22:36:32

How can a school 'gerrymander' its catchment? What do you mean?! How can a school do that? Genuinely curious!

I only mention the Romsey school stuff because I have a lot of friends of DC at both who have expressed surprise at some of the stuff the DC are telling them, coming out of comps/academies in dear little Romsey, that's all, somewhat backed up by a discussion I personally had with 'a Head' at one of the comps/academies who told me their disciplinary workload had increased significantly in the past few years as a result of the Oasis stuff going on in northern Southampton .

And I honestly didn't know that being an academy had any bearing on admissions, I thought that was a thing an academy couldn't change, but I stand corrected!

Also, Talkinpeace, it's interesting that you see a great need to rejig the boundaries whereas lemonsole feels they've been drawn up the way they are to make it more 'fair'.

Tansie Sun 09-Sep-12 22:37:13

PS Do you mean the Wellow kids getting bussed to M'batten?

TalkinPeace2 Sun 09-Sep-12 22:49:17

Yup - the Mountbatten catchment is insane - look at it on a map. Romsey nearly as hatstand. And the new Oasis building is on a Mountbatten bus route.

The numbers from Southampton going to Romsey / Mountbatten / Thornden / Kings have not changed much over the last ten years (I've been watching VERY closely) - the big change has indeed been Oasis counteracted by the massive change for the better at Upper Shirley taking the pressure off Romsey.

And the Thornden catchment - I've heard how they have done it but will not post here HOWEVER that school has 0% FSM - for a comp .... and its catchment magically excludes all the cheap houses ....

On another thread we found the DFEE links to which kids go to school where - 10% of Southampton kids go to school in Hampshire - generally the ones whose parents give a shit so LESS likely to have "social problems" than those left behind.

NB Winchester's version of "less affluent" would still make most of the country envious .... None of the schools want the whole of Stanmore or Winnall in their catchments. Bless.

chicaguapa Sun 09-Sep-12 23:00:02

Having academy status does mean the school can change its admissions criteria. Thornden has been at pains to state that they have no plans to change theirs - they issued letters to all the primary feeders when they got academy status and get asked that question at every open day.

I think it will affect the Romsey and the CF DC who are in the other catchment as Kings has always been the fall-back option, well around here anyway. AFAIK those who don't get into Thornden go to Kings instead. I also heard that DC in the Test Valley catchment have been going to Kings. Though West Gate is already an impossibility if you're out of catchment, so there'll be no change there.

Tansie Sun 09-Sep-12 23:02:50

I agree that the Romsey catchments are an odd shape. So are Winchester's- I don't necessarily see a conspiracy!! Thornden's, as far as I can see from this map, is just about the only pretty much contiguous, 'oval' catchment among them! How is that gerrymandered? It could be drawn exactly the same shape but shifted south and would still encompass pretty much the same demographic of Chandler's Ford, couldn't it? Move it north and you'd get some very well educated farm animals! I guess the M3 pretty much forms its eastern boundary.

Can you be sure that 'what you've heard' about say Thornden isn't the dark mutterings of parents whose DC couldn't go there? WG in Winchester is the same- you pretty much have to be in catchment to go there, too, but there are no accusations of dark doings about that- or are there?! I don't understand cos surely Th, WG, Kings and Mountbatten are very similar schools! Why should Th fell the need to gerrymander?

And I'm curious about a school bus taking DC from outside the Oasis academy in Lordshill- why, if it's not in the M'batten catchment? Or do you mean that there are sufficient parents in Lordshill who choose to send their DC out of catchment to other schools, eg MB, that they catch a bus there? Like Nomansland (Wilts) parents have organised a bus to take their 11+ refugee DC to Romsey Community?

Tansie Sun 09-Sep-12 23:04:28

chic- interesting. I must say I thought MB was the default for Ch Fd DC if TB was their catchment, for instance.

Ariadne78 Mon 10-Sep-12 08:29:19

Tansie we are Wonston side.

lapucelle Mon 10-Sep-12 08:45:02

I don't entirely agree about the Thornden catchment either. We live out of the catchment, just by a few streets, within Toynbee catchment. (Irrelevant for us since DC go to private schools.) Within the Thornden catchment a few streets away there are much cheaper houses than those in our streets. For the same size house you will pay a premium of maybe 25k or so to be in their catchment but it's not true that the boundary includes all "cheap" houses. (Mind you houses are not "cheap" in our neighbourhood.)

On the other hand I do agree that the shape of the Thornden catchment magically catches all of Hiltingbury, the fancy houses on the outskirts and the top part of Valley Park where most houses are 300k+. If you moved the same shape catchment south, the average house price would drop by 100k or more, I reckon. (Just not in the part where I live.)

Lemonsole Mon 10-Sep-12 09:54:46

Do accept totally that Winchester is a honey pot in itself - but the balance in the schools should not be taken for granted. We live in one of the city's "less desirable" areas ( though we love it very much, and are highly amused by the dash to the overpriced catchments of the "desirable" schools) and we see how everyone benefits from a secondary school being properly mixed, both in terms of naice children and those more likely to have difficulties. But maybe I am a fluffy old idealist. Our primary school is one of the few here that has FSM and EAL figures that are above national (and not just County) average. So don't tar us all as over-privileged types who want to pull up the drawbridge.

Winchester schools aren't academies - don't know where that came from. In fact, this whole plan to extend Westgate to be a 4-16 school seems to me to be an elaborate ploy to AVOID creating a new school - which would have to be an academy. Redrawing catchments is to deal with that.

At the moment the three Winchester schools have a capacity - and pupils - that exceeds by far the children in the city. As the bulge (currently yr 3, and growing) moves through the catchments will shrink, which is where the real knock-on effect on Romsey will be felt.

Thornden and Toynbee illustrate what could happen in Winchester if the principle of balance is abandoned: once middle-class parents perceive even the tiniest difference between schools, they flock to the "better" one, as many refuse to comprehend and take catchment into account. Those small differences then get larger, and larger, and larger.... Until you have a honey pot.

TalkinPeace2 Mon 10-Sep-12 12:23:28

The MB catchment runs up against the gates of Oasis

Romsey's schools will be affected by Abbotswood houses a lot.

LettyAshton Mon 10-Sep-12 13:37:52

The "crisis" in school places in Winchester is in part because there are a handful of primaries that people bust a gut to get their kids into. I know someone who moved there recently and were repeatedly offered Stanmore school, and just as repeatedly they turned it down. It was Western or bust. In the end they gave up and took second choice.

Winchester people - is Kings considered better than Westgate at the moment in terms of, er, middle-classness?

Lemonsole Mon 10-Sep-12 14:58:24

You see, that dogmatism over certain primaries is the type of insanity that drives me nuts. There are no "bad" primaries in this city. When you drill down into the SATs you can see that they reflect the intake; nothing more. The Target Schools for the Down From Londons are Grade 1 largely because their catchments exclude anyone with a budget lower than 500 k with which to buy a house. The so-called weaker schools have more accessible catchments and more social housing. I'll stick my neck out a bit here, but in some cases the school whose results may appear to be lower will very often be adding an awful lot more value than the more desirable one up the road. And that means they add a lot of value to all DCs; not just the ones who can't be relied on to fill in any gaps at home. Kids with supportive home backgrounds do as well in any primary here as they would in the most desirable.

That the perceived differences between Winch primary schools disappear at secondary reflects the generally balanced (larger) secondary catchments mentioned earlier.

As an aside, I know of a fair few DCs pulled out of the same primaries that parents were fighting tooth and nail to get them into easy year or two earlier...

Lemonsole Mon 10-Sep-12 15:01:01

Westgate and Kings have a different style, and a different middle-class fan base. WG has a more liberal reputation; Kings is much bigger and more regimented. Kings does marginally better in terms of results, but with all the fiddling of equivalent subjects, etc, the difference is negligible.

LettyAshton Mon 10-Sep-12 15:13:39

I've just looked at the Hampshire Chronicle, and in Winchester no child this September was denied a school place. What some were denied was a place at their first choice school, which may not have been their catchment or even the neighbouring catchment one. Headlines should read: "Ex-Londoners cross after spending £750K on terraced house in street busier than the one they left and then not getting desired school place."

Lemonsole Mon 10-Sep-12 15:21:21

<looking for "like" button>

TalkinPeace2 Mon 10-Sep-12 15:22:28


My catchment school is SO DIRE that EAs actually put a different one down on their details for houses round here grin

To some extent it would actually be better if all catchments and parental choice were abolished and kids were allocated to
a) the school that their siblings are already at
b) the school nearest to their child benefit address in walking distance.

it would MASSIVELY reduce the carbon footprint in many cities
it would massively even up the performance of many schools
and it would massively deflate quite a few property bubbles.

and yes, my kids would be at the dire local one - but with 600 kids coming back in from the other schools, it would cease being dire PDQ

Lemonsole Mon 10-Sep-12 15:23:52

It is a little more complicated than that, though: there were cases of children from estates being allocated a school 6 miles away because that was the nearest with places. Single parents; kids at other schools... And county should not have been surprised that all the 4 year olds whose nursery places they had been funding then wanted a school place!

But it's nothing like as grim here as elsewhere: they did all get a place.

TalkinPeace2 Mon 10-Sep-12 15:27:08

Lemon - I know my plan is unworkable, but surely no child should be driving past one school to get to the one they attend ....
County are not allowed to open new schools - and they got panned by the last government for holding schools like Ampfield open when their rolls were falling ....

sleeze Mon 10-Sep-12 15:30:27

There is a fourth 'Winchester' secondary school which everyone forgets....

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