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is anyone else in a total panic about getting into primary schools in london?

(49 Posts)
mamaesi Thu 16-Jun-11 22:21:47

Three of my friends have been placed in schools not even on their preferred list of six. The schools are accepting less than 11 new children due to siblings, etc... and I have been told that even though there are 4 really good state schools in my area, that each one of them has an catchment area of less than 0.2 of a mile! I do not live that close to any of them!

I have one child and another on the way and I am trying to decide on a nursery for the older one.... I thought I would go private, but now I am thinking I should try to get into the nursery attached to the primary school... does that help at all? how do you get in?

Another friend has told me that in three years time they might start 'means testing' because they simple will not have enough spaces for reception for london children. I feel so worried and stressed already! We are by no means on benefits...but we cannot afford two children in private schools for 25,000 a year!

anyone else freaking out?? I am not from the UK so this all seems overwhelming to me...

Rosebud05 Thu 16-Jun-11 22:31:13

Hello there,

I can understand your panic, based on the information that you have supplied. The first thing to do is to stop listening/taking notice of all the rumours/myths that get spread around and look at the Primary School Admissions booklet for your borough (should be online). This will outline the admissions criteria (being in a nursery attached to a school doesn't usually make a distance). This should also give you a list of schools with the number of applications, number of siblings etc, and furthest distance that places were allocated last year.

If you say what area you live in, someone with more knowledge than me may be able to help.

ComeIntoTheGardenMaud Thu 16-Jun-11 22:40:30

All children have a statutory right to a school place. Where did your friend get this story about means testing? As far as I can see, it would require a huge change to the law.

IndigoBell Fri 17-Jun-11 01:08:25

Being in the school nursery does not help you get a place at the school.

There won't be means testing in 3 years. No way. The LEA will have to provide a place for your child - however it might not be at the school you want.

You are right to be thinking about it now though, because you have time to move house if you want to....... Some boroughs are feeling the pressure far more than others.

OmicronPersei8 Fri 17-Jun-11 01:34:42

Have a look round the schools people dismiss. We live very near a school that many of my friends would not send their children to. It may not be perfect, but DD got a place no problem and is happy there. Make your own mind up and decide what's important to you: is it the feel of a school, or how results-driven it is, or how many extra-curricular activity it offers, or the parents in the playground? Or something else? Visit all the schools in the area, even the ones people avoid.

In our area (admittedly a large one) there is a shortfall of up to 200 Reception places each year, so the panic is partly understandable. The best way to get into a school is to live next door to it. If you like a school but live some distance away, and it is oversubscribed, be realistic about your chances of getting a place for your DC.

If you really don't like your nearest school(s), which you are entitled to, then you may have to consider moving nearer to a school you do like, finding a 'no-frills' privates school (possibly more affordable) or looking at faith schools in your area.

admission Fri 17-Jun-11 09:12:20

You need to look at the schools admission arrangements that are in a book for school admissions that is on each LA website . There is nothing stopping you from applying for schools in a neighbouring LA and this happens a lot in London.
However you should understand that being in a nursery for a school does not give any priority for school places for reception year, so it is all about how you fit with the admission criteria of the school.
You should look at all the schools that are within easy distance of where your live and check out them all. Do not listen to myth and rumour, school places is all about the admission criteria and making wise decisions about putting sensible preferences on your application form. The one I heard at appeal very recently was if I put the school down three times I get three goes on the admission list. No not true. Who makes these things up?

Rosebud05 Fri 17-Jun-11 13:05:54

God knows. The 'if you only put one school down they'll have to give it to you' and 'my neighbour got in last year so we'll just put that school down' are popular here and have caused people a lot of unnecessary distress.

prh47bridge Fri 17-Jun-11 13:32:41

That's a new one on me, as is the idea that the government is going to start means testing for school places. That sounds like it comes from the "Tories are evil baby eating monsters" camp.

PanelMember Fri 17-Jun-11 14:09:38

It's occurred to me that not only would means-testing mean rewriting whichever Act of Parliament places a statutory duty on LEAs to provide school places for all children who require them, it would also mean rewriting the part of the Admissions Code which prohibits schools and LEAs from inquiring into parental income.

I think prh47bridge is right. This belongs in the same scaremongering camp as 'the government is going to kidnap your granny and make her work down a coal mine'.

nlondondad Fri 17-Jun-11 14:09:39

I just LOVE the "means testing" rumour....

Actually at what level would such a cut off be applied? If the idea was that "people who can afford private cant get state" the means test level would be pretty high.

Also would need a Bill through parliament.

I can just see the headline now

" means testing to deny middle classes access to state schools , some of which they would not be seen dead in"

mamaesi Fri 17-Jun-11 16:01:40

I have looked at the all the schools in my area with close attention and in a lot of detail. ALL of the 5 schools that I feel are ok for my child each have a distance of less than 0.2 of a mile distance. I am not near enough to any.

There is one school near to me and the marks are consistently below the national average and the majority of children entering reception have english as a second language. I am sorry but I do not want my child to go there for that reason, not just because it is not 'popular' with the people I know in the area. Because academically I do not feel it will make her flourish.

I cannot afford a house where the good schools are.

I guess what I am asking is ...How do you cope with sending your kids to not so great schools? how do you face such limited and dire options?

Rosebud05 Fri 17-Jun-11 16:13:54

What were your impressions when you went to look around the school near you?

PanelMember Fri 17-Jun-11 16:18:54

By remembering that even if a school is below the national average, not all the children in it will achieve below the national average

By remembering that a lot of what children achieve depends as much on the help and support they get from their parents as it does on the school

By remembering that there is more to any child than their SATs score

By remembering that SATs give only part of the picture of what a school is about and that it takes more than SATs and an Ofsted report to get the full picture

By remembering that schools with a disadvantaged intake often achieve more in helping children progress than schools in more favoured areas

By remembering that children with English as a second language are not a problem to be avoided and often come from ambitious and well-motivated families

Above all, by doing my own research and not relying on local gossip.

Forgive the generalisations but you get the general picture.

Rosebud05 Fri 17-Jun-11 16:23:49

I think I'd also add by making the most of a school's strengths.

Also that giving children an opportunity to grow and develop with other children from many different cultures and backgrounds is a fantastic opportunity, not something to be avoided.

DilysPrice Fri 17-Jun-11 16:39:26

ESL is really not a problem per se in a mixed London primary school IME - the kids pick up English almost immediately unless they are part of a huge monoglot cohort. However it may be associated with deprivation and high levels of turnover, which will stretch a school's resources more.

Some (very few) primary schools do still prioritise by nursery attendance so check their admissions policies carefully now.

OmicronPersei8 Fri 17-Jun-11 17:52:00

I'm a teacher, although I've been a sahm since the dc were born. And all I can say about the English as a second language thing is that the way it changes your teaching is this: you have to be a better teacher. Songs, rhymes, puppets, exciting props etc. Everyone in the class benefits from better teaching.

I agree with everything Rosebud says, too.

OmicronPersei8 Fri 17-Jun-11 17:54:54

I meant PanelMember, I do agree with Rosebud too! Excellent post PanelMember.

chandellina Fri 17-Jun-11 18:00:20

it's not a rumour - there is a 12-week consultation that started last month to allow academies to prioritise children eligible for free meals (and they would get extra funds for each low income child they take.)

I think OP's concerns are valid - I know several people in the same situation in my part of SE London. They aren't close enough to any of their own local schools and have been assigned undesirable schools miles away.

The best hope is to move up waiting lists after applying, and to find out what local schools are due to have bulge classes.

mamaesi Fri 17-Jun-11 18:01:56

I am a from a multicultural family (we are not white british) and my child will speak 2 languages... so please don't think I am against a diverse school... the problem is (which was even expressed by someone who used to teach at the school) is that in the first years my child may be ahead in language development and attention will be focused elsewhere. And there is a lot of turnover.

I did try to see beyond the reports, but I still believe in academic achievement, and striving for good marks, maybe I am a bit of a 'tiger mum'...but I just don't want my childrens school to consistently get below average marks and bad reports...I dont understand why just I must accept this type of education for my child....

I had no idea London would be this desperate!

PanelMember Fri 17-Jun-11 18:27:58

Thank you, Omicron. It's intesrting (and heartening) that you think that teachers have to be better teachers, to teach children with EAL. I agree with Rosebud's and Dily's points, too.

Chandellina - There's a huge leap from saying that a consultation on the admissions code is seeking views on allowing academies to give priority to children receiving FSM to claiming that schools/LEAs will be introducing means-testing.

PanelMember Fri 17-Jun-11 18:29:22

Or even interesting.

animula Fri 17-Jun-11 18:36:10

I thought the "priority for children receiving FSM" thing was limited to 10% or something - and most schools (in London) are way higher than 10% of their intake in receipt of FSM anyway - so no change, in effect. And I don't believe it's very workable either. But what do I know - that's from the radio ...

animula Fri 17-Jun-11 18:37:15

... and, yes, you're quite right, PanelMember, it is a long way off.

DilysPrice Fri 17-Jun-11 18:41:13

I think that chandellina's post is interesting actually.

Of course no government is going to introduce a law "means testing" state education in the obvious sense of "no, you earn too much, you'll have to pay". But for people in the OP's position, especially in boroughs facing a demographic crunch, a policy which would allow children in receipt of FSM to have priority in school choice would look an awful lot like means testing. As a wishy washy liberal with DC above the demographic peak age it's all very well for me to nod wisely and talk about rebalancing the scales and social mobility, but I'd scream blue murder if it was my DCs being shipped to the school that no-one else wanted because I happen to be earning a decent salary. But my screams would be nothing by comparison with the noise the Daily Mail would make, which is why I strongly suspect it won't actually happen.

Northernlurker Fri 17-Jun-11 18:41:40

Other than the information online have you actually set foot in the school you don't think is good enough?

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