Wandsworth Primary Schools - Anyone else not offered a place?

(122 Posts)
DastardlyandSmugly Mon 22-Mar-10 11:41:11

Hi - I'm wondering if there is anyone else in the same position as us on here. We applied for four of the five schools closest to our house, including our closest which is approx. 550m away, and we haven't been offered a place at any of them. We are 7th, 23rd, 53rd and 59th on the wait lists. The other school in our locality, which we don't want our son to go to, also has no spaces available anyway. As it stands all we're being offered is to submit a late application to one of the schools that do have open places - all of which are prohibitively far from us.

Is anyone else in a similar position?

DastardlyandSmugly Mon 22-Mar-10 13:57:12


mumtocandc Mon 22-Mar-10 20:52:01

Hi there,
We're in exactly the same position. No place at any of our preferences and 15th, 27th and 28th on the waiting lists. We're 511 metres from Honeywell (27th on that list) and around 570 metres from Belleville (15th on that list). When we moved here we were within the distances that had been offered the previous three years for Belleville but on the cusp of Honeywell's catchment so the 'catchment' for both schools has dramatically decreased in recent years and that's despite Belleville's expansion.
I was shocked when I opened my email last Friday morning. But we're not alone - I personally know of two other families in the same position as us but I'm sure there must be many more.
A number of people I've consulted (including the admissions officer at Belleville) suggests we've got a good chance of being offered a place there so I guess we just have to wait and see for now.
Anyone else?

DastardlyandSmugly Tue 23-Mar-10 12:14:29

mumtocandc I'm so sorry you're in the same position as us. We were also shocked. Especially as there was no other information in the e-mail apart from that he hasn't got a place.

Surely this is evidence of poor planning on the council's part that they don't have enough schools in geographically local areas for children to go to? They must be able to access, from Health Visitors records for example, how many children live where within the borough and try and allocate resources accordingly? I've actually sent a Freedom of Information request to the council to try and obtain answers to some of my questions.

I'm wondering if we can get some kind of parents' group together to maybe lobby the council or support each other? If you know of two others there must be more. I'm appalled that the council are allowed to do this.

Thanks for the tip re. the admissions officer. I think I will call Swaffield (our nearest school where we are 7th on the list) and ask them what they think.

Are you applying to any of the schools that have places?

mumtocandc Tue 23-Mar-10 15:16:36

Hi again,
My DH and I have talked about nothing else since we found out. We've concluded that we'll sit tight and wait and see. I've just phoned the council to find out whether we've moved on any of the lists (sad I know but I'm a wreck and at least this way I feel like I'm doing something!!)and there is some progress but we're still a long way off a place - now 25th, 15th and 24th at our choices - and I don't know how long my nerves will hold out!!
From reading minutes of council meetings it appears that Wandsworth does recognise the need for more school places and they have expansion plans underway at various primary schools in the borough, but even then the number of applications seems to be well in excess of the places available in certain areas so clearly they're relying on the independent sector to make up the shortfall.
Anyway, rant over!!
A support/lobby group is a good idea. I definitely feel better for knowing I'm not alone, even if it doesn't actually help!!!
Keep us posted on your progress and I'll do the same.

DastardlyandSmugly Tue 23-Mar-10 15:42:21

I'll let you know how I get on with my FOI request. For your info, in case you want to do the same, I've sent an e-mail to the FOI@wandsworth.go.uk reuqesting they supply me with the following information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000:

1. How many children have requested primary school places for a reception class place in Wandsworth for September 2010?
2. How many reception class places are available for children in Wandsworth for September 2010?
3. How many children, who made an on-time submission, have received no offers for a reception class place in Wandsworth for September 2010?
4. What percentage of children in Wandsworth were offered their first, second, third and fourth choices of school?
5. What was the metre distance for offers made at the following Wandsworth schools:
St Michael's
Beatrix Potter
St Anne's
St Faiths?
6. How many notifications of appeals have been received by the council following the offers made on 18th March 2010?
7. What is the purpose of the priority areas surrounding Beatrix Potter school?
8. What is the capacity of Swaffield school to have an additional class intake for reception in September 2010, given that they did have an additional class in September 2009?
9. How many children have been offered places in schools more than 1000m from their house?
10.How many children have been offered places at schools that are not walking distance from their house and are; therefore, obliged to use car or public transport?
10. How many appeals against primary school places were heard in 2009?
11. How many of these appeals were successful?
12. What were the grounds on which the successful appeals were approved?

They are obliged to respond within 20 working days.

I followed your lead and contacted the Admissions Officer at Swaffield. She was really helpful, even though she said to me that the council don't like them speaking to parents as apparently they 'manage the process'. She told me that she knows of some people who have received offers who are definitely moving out of the area and one who has already moved. She said they had offered below 7 on the waiting list a few times before and she expected us to receive an offer by mid-April, which is great news. Not sure I can cope with the tension and sleepless nights until then though!

By the way are you the mum that has replied to me on this on Netmums? If not that's another one of us. Your two friends in the same situation - do you know if they use this site?

mumtocandc Tue 23-Mar-10 21:48:53

No, not me on netmums - so yes, there's obviously more of us. Not sure if the others I know use these forums either.
Thanks for all the info - I never really thought of an FOI request but following your example I may well request similar info on the schools I'm closest to. Additionally, I have heard of siblings having been offered places despite having moved out of the 'catchment' area - I might request info on that too. The idea that people may live miles away but still get their kids into the school irks somewhat when we live so close and can't get in.

DastardlyandSmugly Wed 24-Mar-10 09:14:14

Ooh yes I didn't think of the siblings thing. That does seem bad.

DastardlyandSmugly Tue 30-Mar-10 10:38:03

Hi mumtocandc how are you getting on?

We hired a wheel at the weekend and measured the distance from us to the school gate. We're not as close as we thought but not as far away as the council suggested either so, although I don't think that gets us in, it should get us higher up the waiting list.

I've also crafted a huge e-mail re. what's happened and sent it to Sadiq Khan, Ed Balls, Vernon Coaker, Michael Gove and David Laws. We'll see if anything happens in that regard.

I don't know about you but I'm not sleeping very well with the worry of it. I just want to start getting my DS ready for school and I daren't start saying anything right now.

mumtocandc Tue 30-Mar-10 22:25:46

Hi DastardlyandSmugly,
Genius move on the wheel front - have you spoken to the Council about it? And what did they say?
Well done you on contacting all and sundry in Government and Parliament. I'll be following you on that as well as to all my local councillors once I get my FOI data back from the Council.
We haven't made any real progress (still 15th for Belleville but moved to 22nd for Honeywell and Wix's) so still a wreck with worry. Determined to sit tight though and see what happens over the coming months (not that we have much choice!!).
Will keep you posted on progress (or lack of).

DastardlyandSmugly Wed 31-Mar-10 10:24:48

Not spoken to council yet but it is going to form part of our appeal.

If you want to use it have copied a version of e-mail below:

Dear Ed and Vernon

As Secretary of State for Education and Schools Minister respectively, I understand that you are keen to stress the issue of parental choice with regards to education. I would like to tell you a little about the situation that myself and my husband have found ourselves in with regards to securing primary education for our son and how it appears that, because of where we live, we actually have no access to any kind of choice with regards to this at all.

Wandsworth LA issued their primary school offer letters on Thursday 18th March. On Friday 19th March we received an e-mail merely stating that it was not possible to offer my son a place at a primary school with no further information (this was with the letter which we did not receive until the following day).

It appears that, for our particular street in Wandsworth, there is no access to any education as, although we have 5 schools between 500 to 1000 metres away, and we had applied to 4 of these 5 schools, we are too far away to secure a place at any of them. We are wait listed as following:

Swaffield - 7th (our closest school)
Sheringdale - 24th
St Michael's - 54th
Allfarthing - 59th.

At the 5th school, which we had visited and rejected on the basis of 'parental choice', there are also no places available.

All that the council have offered us as an option is to apply for schools in the borough that do have places available. These are some considerable distance away from us, each would require transport, and are totally impractical given that both my husband and I work full-time, he travels for work a lot, I don't drive and I have an 18 month old to get to nursery every day as well as taking my 4 year old to and from school. In addition, I do think he would be at a disadvantage in our community when all of his friends will go mainly to one of two schools and he might have to travel some distance.

So, as it stands, we are appealing the decision, but aside from that are left to cross our fingers and hope that the waiting list moves enough for us to be offered a place.

A few things about this process have really made me question the logic of the council and their ability to plan effectively:

Swaffield School had three classes of 30 pupils for 2009/10 reception. I don't understand on what basis it was determined that this should drop to two classes for 2010/11 reception given that it's clear that at least three classes are required and Swaffield obviously have the capacity to handle this.
The preference system is split out into individual schools and then aggregated back at LA level, where they ensure that no child is offered a place at more than one school. There doesn't seem to be any check of the inverse position that no child should receive no offer at all.
The way the waiting lists work also seem at odds with logic. People who have received an offer from a school that is lower down their list of preferences are able to accept that school place but also request to be placed back on the waiting list at the schools higher up their list of preferences. They are placed on the waiting list purely based on their distance from the school, so can be higher up the list than those children who currently have no offer of a place anywhere. Surely children without a place should be a higher priority than those children who have a place which wasn't at their first choice school?

At the end of all this are two parents who pay council tax and, as higher tax bracket earners, also pay a considerable amount in tax and NI every year, who are unable to secure a school place for their son at a school of their choice, or even within their local area. I have a 4 year old child who I need to get ready for a huge change in his life and, as it stands, I can't talk to him as I have no idea where, if anywhere, he will be going.

I do not want to be used for party political purposes, especially in an election year, but as the members of the government responsible for education and schools, if you would give this issue your consideration, or indeed if you can provide any assistance, it would go some way towards convincing me that maybe the current government provides the best option for the future.

I intend to send a version of this e-mail to Michael Gove, David Laws and Sadiq Khan.

I had the inevitable chat with a parent at nursery today as he was convinced DS would be going to the same school as his daughter. Am so sad and angry

DastardlyandSmugly Thu 01-Apr-10 14:04:04

Hi mumtocandc - hope you're well.

Update from me - have had a rubbish response back from Michael Gove's assistant so have written back to her explaining exactly what the issues are, how it's impacting us and expressing my disappointment that Michael hadn't dealt with it personally.

Also had a chat last night with a mum friend of mine who knows of another two people who are probably not going to accept offered places at Swaffield. She also told me that it's offer acceptance day today so the lists should move significantly next week.

Any progress from your end?

DastardlyandSmugly Thu 08-Apr-10 11:57:01

Hi mumtocandc hope you're well and things are progressing for you. Unfortunately they are not working out for us - DS is now down to 8th for our closest school. We are so worried - just don't know what we're going to do sad


Message withdrawn

Summerfruit Thu 08-Apr-10 12:14:31

We got in Sheringdale (pre-school) but I heard 120 children are on waiting list ! For reception this year, they are accepting 60 children so that gives you more chance to get in I hope !

DastardlyandSmugly Thu 08-Apr-10 12:16:44

Riversdale wasn't on our list but is full anyway so applying now would only put us on the waiting list. We applied to Sheringdale and we're 24th on the list there.

Depechemodefan do you know Riversdale? What do you think of it?


Message withdrawn

DastardlyandSmugly Thu 08-Apr-10 12:53:31

We're applying for reception. I just can't believe that the council think putting parents through this is acceptable!

We were OK as all the signs for Swaffield were positive - I spoke to the AO and she was really positive. But we thought we might make some headway up the list after last Friday and to find out we've gone down a place is just devestating.

I'm not sleeping at night with the worry.


Message withdrawn

DastardlyandSmugly Thu 08-Apr-10 13:43:58

Thanks DMF (btw we went to see them at the O2 in November and they were fab). We're still only 24th for Sheringdale even though they are taking the two classes. What would help us if Swaffield were taking 90 like last year but when I spoke to the Head this morning she said they would definitely only be taking 60 this year.

I just can't believe it's allowed to happen. Surely they know how many places they need and in roughly what area when doing their forward planning?


Message withdrawn

DastardlyandSmugly Thu 08-Apr-10 13:56:19

It is dreadful mismanagement and there seems to be no appreciation from the council of the impact on parents and children. DS is 4, I should be getting him ready for this huge change, not keeping quiet because I don't know what's going to happen.

They had the same situation last year and had lots of angry and upset parents, but 'fixed' it by making Beatrix Potter and Swaffield have an extra class each. 2006 was a boom year for births so why, after learning the lessons of last year, have they not planned for it better. What are we paying our taxes for and how is it acceptable to have streets in the borough that have no access to education?


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DastardlyandSmugly Thu 08-Apr-10 15:33:18

60 more on top of the ones they already have? Honestly I'm thoroughly disgusted by it.


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