Hillhead Primary - oversubscribed!

(93 Posts)
msapplecider Tue 28-Jan-14 19:34:28

Hi, does anybody else on here have DC starting primary in August and registered at Hillhead Primary, and received a letter about oversubscription? We are in the catchment area so I thought my DD was going there for sure until yesterday when the letter arrived and told me that we no longer got in automatically due to not enough places being available… Am not sure what to do now, and just wanted to see if anybody else was in the same situation and had any more info on this. Thanks!

thewaves Wed 29-Jan-14 14:46:13

Yes I have a child due to start August 2014 and we are in catchment but fortunately I have two more children already in the school so I think she will get in.

But there are alot of upset people. Especially those who thought about deferring and are now considering just to go for it this year and get theri child in as council is also going to redraw the boundaries.

The other issue worth considering is how good the school can be (and it is good right now) when it will not have a library, art facilities or IT suite hen this new cohort starts. Space is a real issue at the school, toilet facilities are not adequate, they are worried they will not be able to get all children say down for dinner in 50 mins, they cannot fulfil the required 2 hrs weekly PE , the headteacher currently walks groups of children up to a football pitch in the park every lunchtime so that the children can play football as there is not enough room in the playground.

It is a great school, I love the ethos,the teaching is good, I love how multicultural it is. But it is overcrowded.

sleepyhead Wed 29-Jan-14 14:57:02

Not at the moment (and for a good few years), but we recently moved and stayed in catchment purposely so that we could be sure of a place for ds2. With the proposed future changes it looks like all bets are off. Ds1 will be starting High School by the time ds2 starts so there will be no sibling link.

I agree with thewaves - I'm absolutely gutted about the news re: the library/IT room. It's way overcrowded as it stands, the playground space is already inadequate and changing the catchment area in the future will take a good few years to bring down numbers.

I've no idea about what criteria they'll use to decide who gets in this year. Looked After Children, SEN, siblings in catchment and then distance from the school maybe?

The Parent Council & Head are very proactive and seem to be doing all they can to pressure GCC into taking action other than just catchment changes, but I feel really sorry for the staff to be facing all these challenges when the school has only been open 3 years!

prettybird Wed 29-Jan-14 15:19:17

Glendale Primary had the same issues: over the years that ds was there it lost the music (aka Noisy/Quiet) room, the Computer room and finally the Library. Lunches had to be done in shifts as did (I think) some of the playtimes. Every inch of the school was used for multiple purposes: the area between the classrooms was used for Structured Play, books were kept in the reception corner area, the gym was also the dining hall and assembly hall. Some of ds' PE sessions had to be taken outside as there weren't enough hours in the week to give every class access to the gym.

A new school is now being built - but they are building it for its current catchment requirement and totally ignoring the fact that there has been a massive amount of new building on the road opposite and all those professional couples that have moved in could just possibly wink go on to have kids hmm iand there is a high proportion of local families from ethnic minorities who have larger families - plus the fact that the next closest school is also bursting at the seams.

The Council's comment was that they "didn't need to think about the future - it was just what was required now that was important" hmmhmm. I thought that was what Planning was for confused

Glazzamataz Wed 29-Jan-14 20:59:21

The situation at Hillhead is a very sad state of affairs. So many stressed people. One contribution to the present problem is that the council have filled up the school in the past 3 years with placing request with no thought of how the school would manage in the years to come. People who live at considerable distance from the catchment - with additional knock on effect of increasing car use and traffic problems around the school.

Less than 3 years after it is opened there is talk of redrawing the catchment and people who have lived in the area for many years will be at risk of not getting their younger children in or a direct transfer to Hilllhead High once that become oversubscribed too in a few years (and its roll is increasing rapidly). Something is not right here. The council should be answering how many out of catchment children are actually in the school before a redraw is considered.

It is true this year there are not enough catchment places but the school could have coped if it wasn't filled up in the past 3 years with placing requests (or indeed families who have since moved out of the area but remain at the school). 2 years ago there were 5 P1 classes. Why?

Loss of the art room, music room, library/IT suite. A great school with great staff is being run down.

I have kids there and am very unhappy with the council. 4 schools into 1, and local people now losing out.

Oh and a nursery that is not even a feeder for the school on site?

I wish you all the best OP.

msapplecider Thu 30-Jan-14 06:04:16

thanks everyone for your thoughts. hmmmm it all sounds grim, and it angers me as it seems like the Council has just watched the problem develop without doing anything proactive about it, and the best they could think of was to send out letters like this to parents of new P1s, with just days to reconsider options… makes me want to lose faith in education (not that I had that much faith in the Council to start with, but…). not getting into Hillhead is one problem, but getting into another "local" school is yet a different problem because for us, all of the other options given are quite far away to get to in distance, and we don't really know the area the schools are or anybody that attends there. going up to the big school is already a big enough event for any 5-year olds (and their mums!) but to go somewhere completely unknown with no other friends would really too much, almost wrong… there must be lots of other families feeling the same and the Council thinks they can get away with it - I feel extremely frustrated with this all.

but anyways, moaning about things doesn't solve anything, so I'll stop. thanks again for all your thoughts! by the way does anybody have anything to say about other primaries in the west end? in this weird situation, one idea might be to put a placement request somewhere else to increase DD's chance of getting into an okay school rather than to wait until there's no choice left...

thewaves Thu 30-Jan-14 09:19:29

Good point about placing requests - it's a mess, I know several families who have older siblings at the school on placing request but now cannot get a place for younger siblings.

Before the new building, Hillhead primary was I think 70 per cent placing request due to the fact that not many children lived in the catchment... When my eldest child started it wasn't even at capacity. What has happened in the last few years?

sleepyhead Thu 30-Jan-14 09:52:59

I think (although class sizes would skew this) that P5-7 were relatively small compared to the infants when the school opened which might be part of it.

There's also been an increase in the birth rate in Glasgow in the last 7 years or so. They screwed up the maternity services as well by not anticipating it.

Same with the replacement hospital for Yorkhill. Lovely new building, fewer beds hmm

thewaves Thu 30-Jan-14 10:03:15

It just seems that everything that wax said to the council before the new school wax built - that the sure wasn't suitable, too small, there's a residential property in the playground etc have come true.

Half the upper scholl play ground is cordoned off because the grass area is too wet and muddy to play on. They can't seat the entire school together in the assembly hall. It's just nuts.

Glazzamataz Thu 30-Jan-14 14:23:19

OP I don't know what your letter says as I don't have one starting this year - do you have to select another school as a back up? It would really depend where you are, as the catchment is now encompassing 4 former areas....

If you are up Hyndland side (and Hillhead's catchment goes quite far up there) then obviously Hyndland Primary or Broomhill if non-dom only. I have no personal experience of either, maybe others can advise. Though their numbers may be climbing too.

Though at this stage you might still get into Hillhead? This might be council's first letter out to check exact numbers?

As for the rest....I agree that there should have been some planning done with this merger, especially as thewaves says the old Hillhead's roll included many placing requests and therefore the council should have planned for their siblings - no-one wants to have kids in different schools.

However, there were still new starts who were non-sibling placing request and the council should have had the foresight to see how that would effect numbers and classes as it advanced up the school.

How all this is going to effect children already in the school and the new 2014 intake, I do not know.

Less space all round, problems with PE timetabling, loss of general purpose rooms, no library /IT suite. And, as mentioned, an old house sitting in the middle of the school that should have been compulsory purchased in the first place.

Glazzamataz Thu 30-Jan-14 14:43:57

sleepyhead does that mean they took on more infants as upper school less at the time?

Surely they would have realised that was impossible to sustain? And classes could not be reduced each year as legally maximum numbers increased. Is it 25 p1, 30 p2 and p3 and then 33 after? I'm not certain exact rules.

sleepyhead Thu 30-Jan-14 17:22:10

Well, technically as the max numbers per class are higher as you go up the school you could get smaller numbers of classes by merging infants classes, which I think was the plan when they got the very large number of infants a couple of years ago (5 P1 classes, there had been 4 the year before). Of course that would help with the classroom situation but not overcrowding in the playground etc.

I don't know what the legal situation is with limiting intakes due to potential pressures in future years. It could be that the Council's hands are tied to a certain extent and that parents with placing requests turned down would get them on appeal if they could demonstrate that the school wasn't currently at maximum numbers. Certainly they'd be on a hiding to nothing if they tried to turn away catchment parents on that basis if there was a place available.

My biggest worry is the playground and other shared spaces. Classroom space can be found somewhere (I spent about half of my Primary years being taught in a Portakabin like many 80s children), but unless they can persuade the Council to buy that house, which looks less and less likely now that it's apparently going to be converted into flats, there's literally nowhere for the playground to expand to.

prettybird Thu 30-Jan-14 19:51:15

I know that in the planning process for the new Glendale, the council categorically stated that it would not does NOT plan for placing requests - only for the numbers it thinks are in catchment hmm - and not even "will be" in catchment angry

thewaves Thu 30-Jan-14 20:14:45

Well it looks like they re defintely going to redraw the catchment and it will be interesting to see how they do it and what capacity there is at other schools

prettybird Thu 30-Jan-14 21:29:09

They may end up redrawing the catchment - but that requires consultation. Therefore for this year, it probably does mean the school will lose all rooms that have another function but could be used as a classroom (ie the music room, the computer/IT room, the library, the art room). If it doesn't do that, you would win an appeal as there is room for your child.

Next step would be a portacabin in the playground (which the council hates doing as it costs them).

The education department is trying to scare you into applying elsewhere. The only ones who should legitimately be concerned are those kids are there as placing requests and who want their siblings to go in August as their priority is to the catchment kids (and cared for kids) and the Education Dept has no obligation to squeeze them in.

Glazzamataz Thu 30-Jan-14 23:34:12

A tent on the grass roof? My DD1 might quite like that ;-)

msapplecider Fri 31-Jan-14 11:01:30

on the letter we received (which was just a cut-and-paste of their generic Placement Request letter; they couldn't even be bothered to produce a new letter about this, so some bits of the letter don't even apply to this case with Hillhead… anyways), we are given Section A, where we get to say if the family has any special circumstances that should be considered before they assess general application (ie. medical condition of the child, siblings in school, single parent families), and then Section B with a list of four primary schools to choose from, should the application to Hillhead be unsuccessful. The four listed are Hyndland (which would be quite full anyway, no?), Dunard, Anderston and Oakgrove. I know nothing at all about any of these schools other than that they are all quite far away (all over 1 miles) from us. I spoke to the Head Teacher at Hillhead and he said that many parents are not choosing any from Section B, saying that none of the schools are suitable, and I'm tempted to do the same because I really can't choose.

but it sounds like whatever happens this year, the problem will stay for at least another few years and the quality of children's school experience is not going to improve magically anytime soon. hmmm, what do we do with the Council's shortsightedness? sometimes I don't know why I live in Glasgow - I just busted my tyre the other day because of a pothole on the road I couldn't see, I'm awaiting a reply from council tax department about a mistake they've made months ago, the list goes on and on…

prettybird Fri 31-Jan-14 11:50:29

If it's generic, then it will have been sent to everyone, regardless of whether they are in catchment or not. Suunds like anyone not in catchment will not get a place even if they have siblings already at the school.

If you are in catchment, then they will be required to make space - unless they can demonstrate that there is no space anywhere (including space for a portacabin) for the catchment kids. They might try to say you must go elsewhere but the ED would lose the appeal.

The headteacher will probably also be having a massive headache: she'll be having to make sure that every class is at its maximum capacity - and that may mean moving kids around and/or creating composite classes - which parents will hate if their child is settled with their cohort.

The redrawn catchment area could only kick in for 2015.

msapplecider Fri 31-Jan-14 18:17:04

well, I think that this time, they're saying that even if you are in catchment, there's not enough space, and I don't know how they're going to demonstrate that but that's what the letter says anyway. what I heard is that there'll be intake of 99, and there are 137 children in catchment (not counting placing requests from outwith catchment). I assume some of these kids will not necessarily be wanting to go to Hillhead, but still if they're saying that they are not taking any more than 99 then some of the children in catchment will have to be turned away. I mean, I don't know if they are allowed to do that, but then they make the law, don't they… I know of a family that recently bought a flat in catchment hoping to send their kids to Hillhead but if the council is going to re-draw catchment then there's no guarantee things are going to work for them.

was talking to another mum in the same situation and she said she's going to put in placing request for Gaelic School. it's just madness - something as important as our children's education, the council is not supporting us in making informed decisions about anything.

prettybird Fri 31-Jan-14 22:02:03

I repeat: if there are rooms that could be turned into classrooms even if parents would prefer that they stayed as per their original use then they can't refuse catchment requests. Ditto with if there is space in the playground for portacabins.

I've been through this as a member of the school board (and latterly parent council). We lost every single "extra" room and ended up with having shifts for both meals and playtime and some classes having to have their PE outside no matter the weather.

They might try to tell you otherwise and scare you into putting in placing requests elsewhere but you would win an appeal if they refused you a place.

KitKitKit Sat 01-Feb-14 08:42:58

Hi, I'm in the same situation as OP and got the same letter last week. Phoned the school and head teacher said that there WILL be new starters IN CATCHMENT who WON'T be given placement at Hillhead and in that case they'll be given a place at a nearby local school. I was very angry with the situation so really interested to read what prettybird was saying about the school not being able to refuse catchment requests. I hope she's right, because like misapplecider I wasn't prepared to send my DS to another school so haven't done any research and simply don't fancy any of the schools available. All his friends from the nursery are going to Hillhead and they live nearer the school so have better chance of getting in. Got the impression from the head teacher that he wanted to accept all requests but his hands were tied and they couldn't have any more than 3 classes for new P1. I wonder how soon we find out.

prettybird Sat 01-Feb-14 09:26:45

Glasgow City Council is very good at bullying will work hard to pull the wool over people's eyes - and the head teacher is not allowed to say anything other than the council line, for risk of a disciplinary.

If you look up the case law on appeals in Scotland (there was one in Edinburgh) you'll see that the only ones that failed were for siblings, not catchment kids.

If you say there are still rooms that could be used as classrooms, then the school would be forced to use them. I was more heavily involved with school board/parent council when the Scottish Government changed the P1 class sizes and the Education Dept was very clear then that the only way it could avoid losing appeals was to ensure that every possible room was used as a classroom.

It can however make things really difficult for you and make you jump through every hoop and preferably apply elsewhere go through the full appeals process. hmmsad

For the record I'm not actually against GCC and don't mind paying my astronomical council tax but I do think the Education Dept often displays terrible arrogance and the teachers/school do a good job despite not because of them, with one or two honorable exceptions

prettybird Sat 01-Feb-14 10:26:52

Consultation required

minimum timetables - and the council hasn't even published a consultation paper yet.

Take it up with your local councillor(s) and your MSP(s)

Glazzamataz Sat 01-Feb-14 12:42:49

It isn't a question of the school being obstructive (via council) though, the headteacher is very good and very helpful - it is rather a question of no space at all. Any room which can be made into a classroom will be made into that this year and STILL there is catchment oversubscription. In the last 3 years all general purpose rooms have gone and now media suite.

The playgrounds cannot accommodate a portacabin as far as I can see. The school has well over 600 children and this year it will be way over its working capacity.

I know of lots of people in the situation of the OP and other posters so I am not defending the decision but if there is no space there is no space. And that is what the council must answer.

4 schools into 1, lots of placing requests in last few years taking up to capacity, a derelict house in the middle of the school build that the council refuses to buy, an early years centre that could be accommodated elsewhere perhaps (they have not sold off all building of merged schools I believe). I would also be going local councillor and MSP route and asking them to determine the facts (because even us parents at the school might not know them all....)

A catchment change in the future will not answer all the current and future problems and is massively wrong for people it may impact who have lived in the Hillhead catchment area most of their (and their children's) lives.

thewaves Sat 01-Feb-14 14:13:32

Yes there have been whisperings about the ELC - but it's a great resource fir local parents, good nursery lovely staff.

It's just a mess. And a Shane children who live close by will not be able yo attend local school. And a shame that existing children will not have library/ IT suite etc

And ex Hillhead old scho kids still mourn the demise of the school sift play. There isn't room to move at that school.

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