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State schools, appeals and stress

(12 Posts)
mumofhorfield Tue 13-Mar-18 11:11:24

Hi all

We are moving to Bristol (Horfield) during the Easter hols to be close to the Uni (I'm a PhD student there).

We've been really fortunate to find a lovely school for DS (aged 8 but w're having a dreadful time trying to find somewhere for my daughter (Yr 7).

mumofhorfield Tue 13-Mar-18 11:30:42

Sorry - computer glitched out before I'd finished!

Anyway, I'm sure you all know the story - all schools oversubscribed with huge waiting lists. The Council say that City Academy has space. The only information I can find about them is bad, bad, bad. Does anyone have anything positive to say about it? To give a bit of context, we have always lived in quiet, rural towns until now. My daughter feels unsafe even walking to and from school where we currently live (very safe). She's doing well at school but very easily distracted and very sensitive. The school she is at currently is on a par with Colston's Girls' in terms of achievement, pastoral support etc.

Basically, she'd be eaten alive somewhere like City Academy. She's had emotional regulation and anxiety probs since she was very young. I feel utterly broken by the experience of ringing every other school in Bristol and being told the same thing - "we're full". I'm barely sleeping and feel like a terrible mother for moving her away from a nice, safe life to god-knows-what sad

Private is not an option (on a PhD stipend!). I am going to have to appeal. Everything I've read on here says that I have to appeal for a school not against another. I get that. Please don't judge me for moving into the area and expecting something better for my daughter - I am not a snob and I would consider a school that was 'requires improvement' even, but the issues at City Academy seem serious and long-standing with little sign of improvement (inc big safeguarding problems). I can't even find a more recent OFSTED report than the 'Inadequate' one from 2015.

She is really strong at languages and sports so that, and the emotional difficulties, will be the basis for our appeal. Does anyone have relevant experience of Bristol secondary appeals that can suggest whether I stand a chance here? Feeling completely hopeless and overwhelmed by it all.

Sorry for the long, rambling and grumpy post. Any help greatly apprecaited. x

Rudi44 Tue 13-Mar-18 22:14:08

You have my utmost sympathy, Bristol is tricky for secondary. My yr 7 got none of her secondary choices and we had to go independent in the end. City Academy is one of only a few under subscribed schools in Bristol. Personally I have no experience but I have heard things that are worrying. Brislington Oasis is usually under subscribed as well and it's a big school with an intake of 265 each yr I think. I have heard some positives, its strict and I think it's on the up.
The other thing to look at are schools out of area, but you may need to consider how you would get there. St Katherine's in Pill has a large number of Bristol kids and it's a much smaller rural school so may be worth a look. There are school buses that go there from various points in Bristol.
Others may have some advice about North Gloucestershire schools that may have space.
Good luck

Somersetter Wed 14-Mar-18 07:29:42

Is she on the waiting list for any other schools? And if so do you know what position she is on the waiting list?

Have you looked further afield, at St Katherine's or any of the South Gloucestershire schools?

mumofhorfield Wed 14-Mar-18 18:39:28

Thanks Rudi44 - appreciate your symapthy :-) Could you tell me specifically what you've heard? It might help my appeal if I can say exactly what my concerns are. Although, I appreciate it won't be hard evidence! Thanks for the tip about St Kat's - someone had suggested that to me before and I'd completely forgotten about it. I called them today - they can't tell me whether they have space but they are calling me back to arrange a visit. There does seem to be a private bus that goes from Horfield direct to that school so that's definitely an option.

Somersetter - she's on the waiting list for all of the oversubsribed schools. None of the academies will disclose her position but she's 7th at Cotham, and 10th at Redland Green and Ashton Park. Council advised that she wouldn't get a space this year :-(

I'm going to appeal to Colston's (long-shot) and Cotham based on her language aptitude (Cotham offers the languages she is strong at) and her emotional and social needs (a school with a strong record of behaviour management a calm and focussed learning evironment). I spoke with our GP, who is going to evidence her anxiety issues, problems with using public transport alone, walking in an unsafe area of the city etc. I have CAHMS reports between 2009 and 2014 which has her diagnosis. Cotham is close enough for her to walk to and from my office safely (she is very familar with the area), which means she doesn't need to use public transport alone. At 2 miles, it's not massively far from our home, will enable her to make local friends etc.

Fairfield are our closest school but they are oversubscribed - it took them 3 weeks to tell us that. They are now being really awkward about an appeal. angry. They have said that a place probably won't come up there either.

For now, she's going to have to do the 30 mile commute to her old school after Easter until we have something in place. So sad for us and others that Bristol is like this. Should be such an exciting time but it's just become fraught with worry for us both.

dimmu Thu 15-Mar-18 09:59:39

I have no advice to offer, just my sympathies. Sounds like such a stressful situation! As you know from my other thread we're considering moving to Bristol with our family, and the secondary school situation is the main thing holding us back. My husband is actually worried we'd be sacrificing our daughter's future if we moved to Bristol and took her out of her current outstanding primary, and a pretty much guaranteed place in a good local secondary. Then again we'd be able to live in a house with a a garden as opposed to a poky city flat, there'd be more outdoor space and fresh air and hopefully it would be a safer environment in general with no drug dealing and all sorts taking place on our home street.

Have you visited the City Academy yourself, what sort of feel do you get from it yourself? I know it's a long shot but a few parents I know have preferred a school classed "needing improvement" over "good" school, after having visited them. And one set of parents were so happy when their daughter got to a local "good" school but she absolutely hated it there, and she ended up transferring to another school with poorer performance record, and she's been much happier since.

Sorry that I have no real advice to offer, just wanted to say I feel for you! I hope you can get her situation sorted soon so that you can concentrate on your research project. PhD alone can be stressful enough, I know that all too well.

By the way, hope you don't mind if I ask, how did you go about finding a place for your son? Did you just contact the local schools directly or did you go through the council?

Anyway, good luck with it all!xx

catslife Fri 16-Mar-18 15:03:48

Unfortunately OP your dd is in a "bulge" year which means a much bigger number of schools are oversubscribed than in previous years.
I have also posted on your main thread as hopefully some of the experts who understand how lottery school waiting lists work will be able to advise you.
Have you applied to Orchard school OP that school is the catchment school for Horfield and wouldn't expect it to have a long waiting list?
Have you looked at any South Glos schools - Abbeywood community school would be a fairly straightforward journey from Horfield.
Other people have mentioned St Katherines which is a very good school just outside Bristol.

mumofhorfield Sat 17-Mar-18 09:00:51

Dimmi - I don't think you'd be sacrificing your children's future at all! I''m only in this position because we are moving during the school year and my daughter is already in secondary school. I'm going to see City Academy on Wed. I'm trying to keep an open mind but everyone I mention it to has only bad things to say (including teachers who have worked there).

I just called the closest primary to our new house, which happened to be outstanding and happened to have a place in DS's year group. They won't hold places for long though, so it might be trickier if you're not renting. You can ring the schools direct and just have to apply through council I think. You're so right about the PhD - am lucky to have very suportive supervisors who know that I need to focus on this right now. What was yours in?!

Catslife - I didn't realise that, thank you. I really don't think we stand a chance with Colston's Girls' as they didn't uphold and of their 35 appeals in Sept. We are going to see Cotham on Wed and have subitted and appeal to them too. Cotham, CGS and Fairfield have all increased their PANs from Sept...

Orchard is oversubscribed, we are on waiting list but haven't heard good things? They don't offer German, which is her strongest and fabourite subject.

Abbeywood also oversubscribed. We called St Kat's and are waiting for them to get back to us to tell us whether we can look around. They won't tell us whether they have space until after we apply. They don't offer German either.

Plan is to appeal to Cotham first and keep her on waiting list everywhere else.

catslife Sat 17-Mar-18 12:24:20

I think I agree with you OP about the chances of winning an appeal at CGS being very low. I know many people that have appealed including those with medical conditions and language ability without success.
I agree that Cotham may be a better bet for a sucessful appeal and (as the population is quite mobile in that area) there may be a chance of a place from the waiting list too.
The following schools offer German:
St Mary redcliffe (C of E) either French or German in Y7 and second language added in Y9.
St Bedes (Catholic).
Bristol Cathedral choir school similar to CGS in terms of admissions policy.
The faith criteria may not apply to in-year places.
Have you applied to Bristol free school? That is fairly easy to get to from Horfield.

catslife Sat 17-Mar-18 12:27:31

i am sending you a pm as there is some info that I would rather not say on a public forum.

mumofhorfield Sat 17-Mar-18 12:31:50

Thanks catslife - so much helpful advice. Really appreciate it. Will look out for pm. Yes, tried Bristol Free school - is full and she's on waiting list.

dimmu Mon 19-Mar-18 10:38:42

Good luck on Wednesday, hopefully something will come up soon. I'm keeping my fingers crossed!

That's very encouraging about your DS, amazing that an outstanding school happened to have places! I would be happy with a good school as well, my DD is quite good at making friends so I'm hoping she'd be ok. We'll be renting first as well, I think it would just be too stressful to sell our place in London and simultaneously try to buy a house in Bristol AND secure a school place for DD.
I'll pm you about the PhD as reluctant to share too much info online.

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