The multicultural issue(5 Posts)
I know this is a contentious subject but it is one that worries me, hence my post. Here goes...
My family are looking to move (we need more space) and we have found a great property in Tower Hamlets. The only thing holding us back is the school situation. For those of you who know Tower Hamlets, the property is around Brick Lane, which has a large Bangladeshi population. This is fine - I have lived London all my life and have lived in areas like this before.
However, I'm really concerned about the school situation. I want my son to go to a school which is multicultural - after all, this is why I live in London. It seems that all the schools around the area I'm looking at are populated mainly by Bangladeshi children. I don't want my son to feel like the odd one out. I want him to mix with children of all races and to go to a school where half the children speak English as their first language.
There is one school in the area which I would be happy for him to go to, but it is the seventh furthest away. What is the likelihood of him getting into that one if I appealed?
I don't know what to do. I guess the answer is don't move. Help
Thanks for reading this post.
Some friends of mine's kids go to school in Tower Hamlets, near but not exactly where you mention. They've both done well in school and generally been happy there - the only difficulties have been out-of-school friendships.
In their cases, they've been one of two or three non-Bengali kids in the class. A lot of the TH primaries don't have the ethnic and social mix that many parents would like.
In terms of the school seventh furthest away, it would depend on how many people applied and their admission criteria.
Hello. We used to live in the area you are speaking of and my children went to a school nearby, and I used to work as a teacher in TH. It is a difficulty. As you mentioned, as an area it is more monocultural than multicultural. We looked at quite a few schools for our children, and ended up going to one that was 20 minutes away from our house (as opposed to several very close) because it was slightly more mixed. It worked out well as there was a group just large enough (6-9 children per class) of similar children that my children became very close friends with. Before anyone jumps down my throat, I really do believe in being open to friendships with all, and I did as much as I could to encourage that. Sadly, the reality was that it didn't happen because a) the children gravitated towards children with a similar background and I didn't feel that friendships can be forced and b) we found that generally friendships with non-muslim / non-bangladeshi children were not encouraged outside of school. Play dates don't seem to happen in that culture.
With our children it was a bit of luck depending on who else is in your year group. We had other friends at the school who had more difficulty because they were in less mixed year groups.
In terms of admittance, it really depends on the school and how popular it is. If it is oversubscribed, I think it is much trickier. We were very lucky to get the place that we did.
I don't want to put you off TH, because there are many great things about that area. One being that because it is so deprived, there is much governmental economic support, offering things for children that you have to pay for elsewhere (as we are now discovering, having moved out of the area!).
I am happy to answer any other questions you might have if you want any advice, including specifics about schools.
By the way, academically I did not feel that the children were being disadvantaged to go to a school where the majority of children had EAL.
You mentioned an appeal.
I assume that, as this is a London borough, all the schools will admit in classes of 30 and so the infant class size rules - which limit class sizes to 30 in Key Stage 1 - will apply. That means that your only chance of winning an appeal will be if you can demonstrate that admissions criteria have not been properly applied or the LEA has made an error in processing your application for a place for your child.
If you don't get a place in your preferred school, disliking the ethnic mix/balance in the school you've been allocated will not be tenable grounds for appeal. Even if you take the matter to appeal, you are unlikely to find the appeal panel sympathetic.
You need to look carefully at each school's published admissions criteria and the distance at which the last place was awarded (all of which should be on the LEA's website in its school admissions booklet).
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