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Lewisham/Greenwich mums

(20 Posts)
speckledpig Thu 20-Dec-12 07:10:32

Morning! We have just moved to the border of Lewisham Greenwich.
Checked the schools out closest to us on the ofsted reports before we bought the house and it all seemed fine. Brindishe Lee is our nearest school distance wise (even though we are on the Greenwich border.
I have a 3 year old and a 1 year old and have been looking around at school pre schools. Put 3 year old's name down in Brindishe and phoned around some others. Had letter yesterday from BL saying they are having to scrap their nursery class next year to make a new reception class as they already have bulge classes and not enough spaces for demand ect....390 applicantions for 30 places.
Anyway all I keep reading about is this huge shortage of primary school places.
I am just wondering what your experiences are in the area and if it is as bad as it sounds?
Have your children been able to get places near to home or not?
Is there any chance of getting into a school nursery or should I just give up?!
I know it's a big problem in London but don't have any real experience to call mt own yet.
I will have to put 3 yr old's name down next September.
I just have visions of having to get on a packed bus every morning with a 4 and 2 year old to get to school............!

pinkdelight Thu 20-Dec-12 08:56:56

Am not in the area now, but used to be. Don't let the 390 thing alarm you unduly - that's how many people put Brindishe as one of their seven choices, not all those who put it as first preference. But then again, it is a very popular school and will no doubt have a small cut-off distance. How close are you? The school's application brochure (usually available on the council website) should have the cut-off distance for last year to give you an idea. And I found the schools in Lewisham that I called pretty helpful in giving a steer on which streets were 'safe' in terms of getting a place, although of course there a no guarantees.

Nursery-wise, you may be able to get a place in a school nursery that is less popular, and that won't affect your chances of a place in your chosen primary school. But you know, you can still use the government funding to get sessions at private pre-schools and even at some childminders so you shouldn't lose out.

speckledpig Thu 20-Dec-12 09:16:03

Thanks Pink for the info. I may try the private nurseries but am always told you have to pay top - ups pretty much everywhere in London which I wanted to avoid.( Was In north London before)

pinkdelight Thu 20-Dec-12 10:08:46

You do sometimes pay top-ups, but there are church and community nurseries where it's not the case. Have a really good hunt around. Hopefully you'll get a state nursery place though - put her name down at all the possible ones. You may end up doing a micro scooter-ride but not a bus ride, fingers crossed!

MurderOfProse Thu 20-Dec-12 12:43:40

For Greenwich at least, you may find this "booklet" useful for primary school admissions:

Part way through it has a list of the various schools, how many applied (as has been mentioned, not necessarily as first preference) and crucially what the furthest distance admitted was, presumably once siblings/children in care etc have all been accounted for.

Some private nurseries let you take the 15 hours over two days so the top up isn't quite so high (DD2's nursery in Woolwich did this)

Good luck!!

speckledpig Thu 20-Dec-12 14:29:48

Thanks MOP, I am going to have a look at that. smile Have sent emails this am to a few nurseries. First reply is that they quote £59 per day but have to do 3 days to qualify for the funding. Other one only has a place on Monday and has same policy.

slug Thu 20-Dec-12 15:31:33

Lewisham uses the common application process for primary school applications so even if your child is in the school nursery there is no guarantee of a place when they turn 5.

John Ball is very good.

newmum1976 Thu 20-Dec-12 19:41:37

I think you're very unlikely to get a reception or nursery place at BL living where you do. The catchment for the school in 2012 was 213m and 135m in 2011. The only chance you might have had is if your daughter started in 2013, as they are likely to have a bulge class, which will increase the catchment. There must be other schools nearer to you though, if you live in Greenwich?

angel1976 Thu 20-Dec-12 21:35:41

speckledpig We moved into the area in July 2011. We looked at schools and based on 2011 catchment, we would have gotten into Lee Manor and Brindishe Green. We had five schools down on our list - BL, LM, BG, St Margaret's (C of E school on the Blackheath side of Lee High Road) and John Ball (unlikely but what the hell!) expecting to get into LM. The only school we didn't put down was St Winnifred's as that's RC and mostly RCs get in. What a rude shock we got when we got allocated a school in Catford! We obviously were in a catchment black hole as the catchments all shrunk in 2012 (funnily enough, like newmum1976 said, only BL's catchment 'increased' but we weren't close enough still!). We looked at the school we were allocated and turned it down, didn't like the feel of it and their results were getting worse...

In the end, we had DS1 in a private prep school. And unexpectedly got a call from St Margaret's offering us a place 4 weeks after school started. We went to see it and loved it and took DS1 out straightaway and he loves his school. We cannot speak highly enough of it. We are very, very lucky to get a place there. I think there are places in the school's nursery as it's only the 15-hour provision they do so working parents tend to put their DCs in private nurseries. DS2 is starting the pre-school there next month. It's a very lovely, small nursery. I don't want to give away any more details about where we are so PM me if you want to have a 'chat' privately or to meet up for a coffee! Been through it all in the last year and it was one of the most awful experiences ever.

angel1976 Thu 20-Dec-12 23:19:23

Forgot to say that Trinity (the secondary school by Sainsbury's) is starting a primary scheduled to take in 2 reception classes in 2013 so that should ease the squeeze on primary school places here a bit.

hatsybatsy Fri 21-Dec-12 15:14:56

as everyone has said, Brindishe Lee, you almost have to live in the school playground to get a place so there's no chance?

Lee Manor has an improving reputation if you're in that area? There are a number of private nurseries in the area - genesis, zoom, montessori in dacre park - would suggest you try phoning around - some may accept offer the EYFS funding?

speckledpig Sat 22-Dec-12 21:43:47

Thanks so much ladies for your imput.
BL is actually our nearest school distance wise, (we live near colfes playing fields and it is literally a few metres past the sign for Greenich.
I did see this new Trinity primary school in one of the roadS near Sainsbury's that would actually be closer to us than BL.
I knew BL would be popular but wasn't aware how much!! Oh well, we will have to rethink it.
Angel, I might pm you if that's ok? Thankyou

angel1976 Sat 22-Dec-12 22:30:20

speckledpig PM me please, would love to meet another local mum. smile If you live near Colfe's playing fields, you are fairly unlikely to get into BL (sorry!). Even when we were looking, the estate agents told us we would have to live on Effingham or Taunton Road to get into BL and even then, it depends on the year and which end of the road you are. It's crazy! But there is no harm in putting it down as one of your choices. We knew we wouldn't get in but I put it down as our first choice anyway, just in case they did a bulge class that year (which would increase your chance of getting in). This is a fairly useful free map tool to give you an idea of how near/far you are.

Trinity Secondary is improving by leaps and bounds so I hear. They have a strong head. Everyone is keeping a close eye on it as apparently last year was the first time many of those leaving the local primary schools have opted to go there as a first choice. It will be interesting to see how it goes in the next few years... If your DCs go to Trinity Primary, they will have certain advantage when it comes to going to secondary if they want to go to the secondary school (I think a certain % of the secondary places will be 'reserved' for Trinity Primary students). I just went on their website and found this info:

Final Trinity Primary Information Event (repeat of those held in November 2012) will take place on Friday 11 January 2013 at 11am at Trinity (Secondary), Taunton Road, Lee Green, LONDON SE12 8PD.

That would really be worth going to so you can have a serious think about that as an option. It's two-form entry (60 places) so good chance of you getting in.

angel1976 Sat 22-Dec-12 22:36:30

Sorry, this is the one to use to measure distance between post codes.

speckledpig Sat 22-Dec-12 22:53:30

Ok, won't bother with that then smile Sounds as though we are WAY out of our league!!
Our next nearest (I am measuring via school map that does schools by distance to postcode)
Apart from Trinity is Wingfield, then Hornpark sad
I think maybe we will be in a no zone like you were!

angel1976 Sat 22-Dec-12 23:05:07

speckledpig It is still worth putting BL on your list. You just never know, you need to make FULL use of all 6 choices wisely. I can't explain it clearly how it works typing it down, but drop me a PM and we can meet up one day nearby for a coffee. I work from home a lot. smile Are you applying for 2013 or 2014 intake? I know someone who is very active in the local area (and knows lots about the local schools) and she has a son who will be going in 2013 and I actually met her 'here' on MN and has since met up with her a couple of times and she is seriously considering Trinity so might be helpful for you to meet up with her at some stage too? It's a lovely area but the schools issue is a minefield though I think it tends to be that way if you are in London!

SE13Mummy Mon 24-Dec-12 23:02:37

Supposedly, it's not yet been completely decided that the BL nursery class will be replaced by an additional Reception class for the 2013 intake...complete the consultation here.

Personally, I wouldn't send my DCs to BL but quite aside from that I can't see how it makes sense to have a second bulge class in such a small school when the first bulge class was met with such outrage by the Executive Head (it was in the News Shopper at the time) and that first class is currently only in Y2 or thereabouts. When I visited I found the classrooms at BL tiny, especially when compared with those of Hither Green (now Brindishe Green) and Lee Manor so wouldn't want to see more children squeezed in <I realised that accepting a bulge class will generate lots of money for BL so they can build/extend facilities but the site itself is small and rearranging the outside area isn't going to enlarge the classrooms>.

I went along to one of the Trinity Primary information sessions, met the Headteacher and was impressed by him, by the plans for the school and by his child-centred approach to opening a new school. I think it would make more sense for Lewisham to ask Trinity to open a third Reception class in September 2013 whilst preserving the nursery class at BL. Trinity's Reception intake of 2013 will never be short of space, will never be squeezed into tiny classrooms and won't actually be in a 'full' school until they start Y6.

So, complete the consultation (and get lots of other people to do so too!) and visit other school nursery classes e.g. Lee Manor, Brindishe Green and other local ones. Brindishe Lee isn't the only school in the area worth going to!

angel1976 Wed 26-Dec-12 21:12:22

SE13mummy Do your kids go to any of the local schools now or are you still looking around (as in your DCs are younger)? You seem very well-informed! smile I personally did not like BL when I went on their 'open day' or 'information evening'. I like the classrooms, thought they were quite big actually and impressed that they had Macs! grin But the school felt very 'cold' to me - it seemed to be all about efficiency. But that's just my opinion. I'm surprised they are considering an extra reception class in 2013, I kicked off with the council earlier this year with regards to primary school places as I knew quite a lot of people living in the Lee Green/Hither Green area (including us) who were being sent to schools in Catford and Deptford and it made so much more sense to have a bulge class in ANY of the local primary schools but one of the local councillors seem to imply that none of the local schools' governing boards were willing to take bulge for this year.

Am glad you liked Trinity. We are very happy with St Margaret's. Because we didn't think we had a chance of getting in, we had that down as a fifth choice and I know that as such, we remain on the waiting lists for all the schools we listed above St Margaret's BUT if that place does come up, we will be turning it down straightaway as DS1 loves his school and DS2 will be starting next month in nursery there. smile

SE13Mummy Wed 02-Jan-13 23:23:08

Yes angel1976, DC1 goes to one of the local schools and I'm applying for a Reception place for this September for DC2.

It's because DC1 is in a local school that I was aware of the possibility that BL may be given a second bulge class-it was in the school newsletter so I'm no better informed than other local parents!

The school my eldest attends has changed since we chose it, and I'm not convinced those changes are for the best as the caring, creative ethos seems to have been sidelined in favour of more formal learning earlier on, and more pressure put on children to reach targets/care about tests than I am happy about hmm. Opportunities such as lunchtime clubs have been all but dropped and there are endless inconsistencies in the newsletters and other letters sent home.

That said, DC1 wants to stay there and, for us, it may be a case of 'better the devil you know....' so we'll probably put that school as first choice for DC2.

fapl Fri 11-Jan-13 20:58:12

Hello Angel Coffee well overdue, I am happy to meet anyone smile Forms for September reception start due in by Tuesday, pleased to say mine is in now.

Lewisham admissions line is actually really good and if you call them they will tell you the exact distance you are from schools, the online postcode things are a good guide but when it is coming down to such small catchments it is nice to know the exact distance the council has you measured at.

I keep meaning to respond to the Brindishe Lee consultation on scrapping the nursery class. They are scrapping it, which would be permanent, for a bulge class which is a bandaid solution for 2013 reception entry, not a permanent expansion (I assume). Trinity is not having a nursery, Lewisham Opportunity Pre-school is likely closing, I heard Newstead Road Pre-school closed.

It is true there are currently vacancies in local school nurseries, but I would like to know if they have really looked at the impact of permanently closing the nursery in the context of slashed budgets for early years provision locally. Also 40% of 2 year olds should be entitled to 15 free hours nursery from 2014 (like the private sector is going to want to pick that up with the rate the council pays providers, who the hell is going to run with it?).

Also, they should be consulting parents of younger children who might want to use the nursery, not just parents of children already in the school or nursery. Parents of current nursery kids without older siblings are going to support the idea because some are so keen to get their child into a Brindishe school and they know reception catchments are smaller than the nursery catchments so want to protect their own interests.

Dame Vicki is extremely efficient and good on her, kids in our local area are leaving primary school being able to read, write and do maths to the standard expected. I do suspect BL may be financially better off having a full primary class, and the federation as a whole will be better off financially if all nurseries are at capacity. I am not convinced the local area will be better off losing so many nursery places with other local closures, and it should be looked at more closely before a decision is made.

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