Secondary schools - where to start?

(11 Posts)
catlover97 Sat 15-Nov-14 18:59:04

Hi all,
Currently living in London, with DS doing very well at our local prep...however fees are massive and combined with house prices we've agreed the best idea for us is to relocate to Brighton for secondary. Looking at the Ofsted reports, it would seem BH is the only school worth considering but we are not in a position to continue private school fees so in the absence of a scholarship (not sure if that would be good or not!) can anyone give some insider tips with regard to alternative options?
There seem to be lots of lovely, caring parents around which makes me think some of the secondaries must be good smile

notsorockinhippy Thu 20-Nov-14 23:39:49

Hi Catlover,

I'm very sorry to be the barer of bad tidings, but though we do have some great state high schools down here, we also have major issues with lack of school places & a daft partial lottery system that means you don't really have any say at all in where your DCs go - this years High School intake fiasco has left many of our kids travelling ridiculous distances, to poor school & for some of us, no suitable school at all & a major stressful, soul destroying on going, hair tearing battle with the LA to finally get a suitable place - we lost our whole summer to it.

In response to parents like myself not giving in & fighting until we won, our LA are now planning on/may have already closed the loop hole that meant we could fight back - so future intake will have no catchment area priority at all

You might be lucky if course & get your first choice school, but if not, you are likely to be stuck with no choice at all

We need more city schools, but they are just not putting the money into that at all - sorry

OnlyinBrighton Fri 21-Nov-14 09:59:17

What was the fiasco, notsorockinhippy? I thought that that they created extra spaces for the children who were originally told they couldn't get a local place? What loophole is being closed?

Am applying next year (lived here for years) and already feeling nervous

notsorockinhippy Fri 21-Nov-14 10:55:47

That was only the 22 children who put down just the 2 catchment area schools of V & DS - many of us didn't know you could put only 2 choices as the way the forms are written, it implies you must put 3 choices, even my DDs HT thought we had to put 3 choices. Plus we know from friends that V has gone down hill & bullying is rife there & not dealt with well at all, with some serious outcomes. The closing of the loophole is dropping the catchment area priority all together - they were having meetings over it,,it was in the press, though I'm not sure of the outcome, I think it's still in process, but from our experience they do what they like & this solves a tricky problem for them - there are not enough school places to cover kids in catchment, especially since they moved the boundaries for DS & V

For us the fiasco started when they messed up our original application, the online form doesn't work with MAC - we had to submit paper copy as our form was incomplete - but they assessed the wrong online form & offered BACA - which is miles away from us, wasn't on our list if choices & wrong for DD in all ways, including bullying not tackled well, which has been an issue for DD in the past.

They refused to acknowledge their mistake- even ignored our MP - turns out there is a known problem for MAC users, we found out others have had the same problem going back 4 years - seems the SA office don't run the yearly checks they are meant to ahead of the site going live.

We went to appeal & even with medical backing naming school, lost our appeal - the hearing was awful, I've been in court case that were less gruelling & they broke a lot of rules - I complained to the LGO - who upheld our complaint, agreed we should have won our appeal, suspected we should have not had to go to appeal at all, but the SA lied & lied & no evidence -

The SA still refused to back down & offer DD our closest school - they even denied it was our closest schoolshock - in the meantime I put in a separate medical needs place application - which they conveniently lost - all the LGO could do was force a second appeal hearing - there was a LOT of second appeal hearing this year - we know of several, 3 from DDs primary class.

I was lucky in that we have friends that work within the system & a bit of great advice as to who to contact in the council, meant that our missing medical needs application was found - it had been passed, which I knew it would be as so much supporting evidence hmm - it was the same evidence I submitted with our original application angry - the SA office were still going to make us go through a second appeal hearing though - but again the right advice over who to contact & rant at about the waste of our council taxes meant, the SA were forced to back down & we got the school place - 5 weeks into the start of year 7, for a DC with medical needs, including anxiety angry

Thankfully the school gave been amazing & well worth the fight

My advice would be to go for that scholarship, we had the opportunity, but DD didn't want & we know kids who have found BC too gruelling & have had to leave, (though they were heavily tutored to get in) I regretted not going for that big time, though thankfully we got there in the end.

I had no idea it would be so difficult to get her into a suitable state school - she has several friends from primary who are travelling to long hill, which is 2 buses & a long way from here - they are healthy & exhausted by it - DD was one of 3 in her class with no school until recently

notsorockinhippy Fri 21-Nov-14 11:02:39

Sorry, missed a bit - I would advise that you go for the scholarship alongside applying for the best schools - Lewes Priory, Stringer & Patcham are the best - Hove Park is on the up & we know several kids loving it there. We didn't know Lwesescwas so easy to get to with our first application, so didn't have it in our choices, but it is a very easy journey if you are within easy reach of the station & an outstanding school - well deserved too, we visited it later & friends kids love it there. We LOVE Stringer smile

hc1helen Fri 21-Nov-14 13:35:53

just to clarify it works on a postcode system..look at brighton and hove council school admission website to find out which schools fall in to which postcodes,
The complication arises when they split a postcode so you could find that one side of the street is in the catchment area for the school nearby and the houses on the otherside of the street are the catchment for a school quite a bit further away.
This mainly happens with Dorothy Stringer and Varndean catchment.
There are up and down sides to most of the senior schools in Brighton and Hove. and the popularity changes with time. One year everyone is desperate for their child to go to one school and another year it will be another.
There are a couple of church schools to it that fits in with your thinking or way of life.
Please there are quite a few independent schools in the area all with very different fee structures.
Hope this helps a little?

notsorockinhippy Fri 21-Nov-14 21:16:57

I agree with the popularity of schools changing over a period of time, sometimes a short period of time, which seems to be the case with Varndean, but unfortunately the fact that there are no longer enough local high school places to cover the number of kids needing places, plus the daft partial lottery system, means that the postcode criteria you mention, no longer works & won't guarantee a place at your local school

Though a high proportion will be lucky of course, those that aren't lucky in the lottery draw for each of their chosen schools, can find themselves offered a not so great school, they hadn't listed, & a long distance away from home too, as it's the nearest available place - when there are many closer schools, we are one of many that happened too this year

catlover97 Fri 05-Dec-14 13:54:16

Hi all,
Sorry for the late response, I forgot how long ago I posted! Wow really useful responses and not what I was expecting - we hadn't considered going outside Brighton (Lewes) - will definately look at that. I also hadn't heard about Patcham.
Stringer is one we've earmarked as a good one and positive to hear about Hove Park.
What are people's thoughts on Blatchington Mill? It (appears to) get similar results to Stringer - is it not as good as articles would suggest?

Thanks again for taking the time to post your thoughts/experiences, it's really useful and appreciated flowers fsmile

saveoursouls Thu 02-Jun-16 00:03:12

Zombie thread, I know, but was interested in knowing if the partial postcode lottery is still in force for state secondaries in B&H?

We are considering moving here in a year or so, but the horror stories like notso and others, are putting us off somewhat...

If we can't move close enough to Dorothy Stringer, for example, to definitely get a place, then how the hell do we do it?

Also, I've heard there is some public consultation going on, to be finalised in 2018, offering 3 options (I think) for parents to vote on - all about catchments and schools within them. I can't work out what exactly it is all about...what is being proposed as a change and how will it affect current admissions? If anyone can shed some light, I'd be very grateful.

I'm not keen on the whole private school thing - we could just about scrape together funds for it, if we really had to, but I love the idea of my Dc going to an excellent local state school, which is mixed and where she is going to be very happy. DS seems to tick all the boxes, but how to get in...

Then there's the nightmare that would be transferring to Brighton in Y6, and finding a state primary place for her. How likely are we to get a place at any good primary, like Downs or Balfour? Probably remote.


tinkitonki Thu 02-Jun-16 17:14:42

This is the link to the consultation or what we know so far, but nothing has been decided, the proposed options are just that and may yet change again. The next stage is due to begin in the autumn. It's a case of wait and see I'm afraid.

saveoursouls Fri 03-Jun-16 22:31:42

Thanks tinki yes, it's what I feared. Nothing will be decided until 2018, which would be too late for my DD, who will start secondary in September 2019. We would have had to have moved down to Brighton at the very latest around the middle of Y5...and then we also have to find a decent primary for her first, never mind the secondary afterwards.

Sounds like Brighton, lovely and appealing as it is, especially the lifestyle we could have and the kind of house we could afford to buy, is all pointless if we can't even be sure of getting a place at a brilliant state secondary.
Private education isn't something I'm keen on the idea of and Dorothy Stringer is such a great school that I'd be gutted if we never even got a shot at it.
I really can't see how their current system of partial random allocation and as opposed to the distance from school as a decider, is ever going to help anyone, since it removes choice from parents altogether.

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