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Is there a shortage of school places in Highgate, Archway, Crouch End area?

(190 Posts)

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nlondondad Sun 21-Apr-13 10:58:18

I was wondering if anyone was experiencing difficulty in getting a place for their child in this area of N. London? Postal codes N19, N8, N6 are relevant?

nlondondad Fri 21-Jun-13 15:20:29


Actually as far as I know Islington take the view that they do not need a Free School at all. Their argument is that they can accommodate a very significant increase in children, should it occur, by expanding existing schools. These schools have the physical space because in the past before a long period of falling school rolls they used to take more children.

However given that Mr Gove has decided that there should be one, islington are proposing the other site, I presume on a "lesser of two evils" principle.

nlondondad Fri 21-Jun-13 17:08:38

Strange this thread seems to have vanished from the general list, so I will add this message to see if that brings it back...

nlondondad Fri 21-Jun-13 17:17:18

Still not appearing on the list...

nlondondad Fri 21-Jun-13 17:51:45

another attempt to get it back...

ImTooHecsyForYourParty Fri 21-Jun-13 17:56:14

It's on active convos!

Board moves very fast so it will disappear off active convos quickly.

Look in primary education and it will probably stay on the first page for a while

nlondondad Fri 21-Jun-13 18:01:33

thank you for this, your post seems to have brought it back when mine would not. Obviously you have the touch....

Farewelltoarms Fri 21-Jun-13 18:51:40

There will absolutely not be enough demand for 56 kids a year, not at the moment since the sort of parents the free school is aiming for would opt for the well established Thornhill or tyndale. On their website they're offering classes of 28 - I think they may well struggle. If they don't get the numbers they won't get the per child funding...
I wonder whether Islington council is deliberately scuppering the free school.

I've always thought the allocation of free schools was illogical, but seeing it close up only makes me feel the barminess even more.

nlondondad Fri 21-Jun-13 18:59:54

Anyway after being interrupted by Mumsnet doing something odd, I wanted to respond farewelltoarms' remark:

"It just seems to be a crazy example of how random the location of free schools is when some areas have a far more pressing need."

It does seem odd to have a situation where local authorities are required by law (still) to manage the supply of places in their area with a requirement, ultimately, to make sure every child has a place (but of course the place offered in such a case may be neither convenient nor desired - which is another story) and yet if they are short of places, while they can expand their own established schools, they cannot open any new ones. The only new schools allowed are Free Schools. Which is why when the Eden Free School opened in North Muswell Hill Haringey council said that while, being labour controlled, they did not agree with Free Schools in principle, they welcomed this one in practice, as they needed the places.

Islington are adamant that they do not need extra places at the old Ashmount site and yet the supporters of the Free School equally forcefully maintain that there is the demand in this area -in fact a serious shortage of places - and that is why I started this thread to see what was the experience on the ground. I must say that what has come up so far is a small number of people without appropriate (broadly defined) places on the first round, but no evidence of the wholesale shortage which people used to report from Crouch End about 8 years ago...

nlondondad Fri 21-Jun-13 19:09:06


"scuppering the Free School"

Are you suggesting Islington Council may not be entirely supportive of this Governments education policy...

What we seem to have here is that I, based on local knowledge, simply cannot see an extra demand for 56 kids a year in the area of the old Ashmount site, which was the site the promoters said they wanted, but, you, with your local knowledge, say there is not demand in your area either. And I agree Thornhill and Tyndale are both sought after schools.

is there a danger of a "market failure" where some children get "lost" to the Free School, which still does not have enough but then Thornhill and Tyndale are short of children?

Farewelltoarms Fri 21-Jun-13 19:27:48

Absolutely nlondon - that's exactly what I fear. Tyndale will be fine as it's further away, but I see a real danger that Thornhill will lose a few pupils to a putative free school (esp if it's offering smaller classes). Thornhill and the free school would then both be running at under capacity. I cannot see how this situation is of any benefit to anyone.

I really loathe the idea of some sort of unseemly land grab of pupils as if the schools were Starbucks set up on the same street. I hate the idea of my children's lovely, warm, inclusive, creative, marvellous school getting into some sort of horrible marketing war with a school that as far as I can see nobody wants (it seems to be driven by an educational company rather than parents). I hate the way schools are being set up in a market place of winners and losers, when the real losers will be children.

According to the Islington Council press release 'The council also believes there is local support for a new school in this area' (i.e. Barnsbury). I'd really like to see the evidence as I know nobody who's been canvassed.

I'd really like to make my opposition known. What do you suggest?

Farewelltoarms Fri 21-Jun-13 19:33:10

Actually Thornhill's probably fine it's Copenhagen, Laycock, Winton and Vittoria that might suffer more. Yes, there's four officially undersubscribed schools within less than a mile radius of the site.

You might argue that parents don't want these schools so they have a right to opt for a school they do want. But with budgets stretched, it would be a far better use of resources to do all possible to make these attractive (maybe impossible as it's partly a question of the areas they serve, if you see what I mean), than to build a whole new school.

nlondondad Sat 22-Jun-13 10:46:24


Your points are good, although really this thread is morphing, as threads do, into a different one which could be called something like " Should there be a Free School in Islington?" for I suspect there are Mumsnet members who would know more than I who might engage with a thread of this name who may not notice this one. if you were to start such a thread I would be happy to cut and paste some stuff from this one contribute.

nlondondad Sat 22-Jun-13 10:47:20

But, at any rate, pending the new thread I would comment on your remark about a number of schools in the area being undersubscribed in contrast to Thornhill and Tyndale is that, if still true. reflects first the fact that there is a surplus of places in the area, its against that backdrop that parents are exercising choice. (The parental choices less relevant than the oversupply). So when a community school is short of children this does not just mean that people who could send there children there are sending them elsewhere, it means that there are places elsewhere and so a surplus in the overall area.

I say "if still true" because part of Islington's argument is exactly that while the numbers of children in south and mid Islington is growing that does not mean a shortage of capacity as it just means that schools with surplus places will fill (from the bottom).

So Islington may feel that if a Free School with 58 reception places arrives in your area in 2014 the extra places can fill particularly if Islington chooses not to spend money on re instating school places as they might otherwise do...

nlondondad Sun 23-Jun-13 22:28:12

You have caused me to go back and look at the Islington press release and I pick out this bit:-

"Islington Council's executive member for children and families, Cllr Joe Caluori, said:

"The pressure on primary school places in Islington is significantly less than in other London boroughs. In fact we now have more school places available in the borough than parents who need them. If the Government says that we must have a free school in the borough, Dowrey Street would certainly be the best location for it."

Mr. Caluori does not sound that enthusiastic does he?

But as you point out the release also says:

"The council also believes there is local support for a new school in this area."

I suppose you could always email Mr Caluori and ask him on what he bases the belief there is local support......

Farewelltoarms Mon 24-Jun-13 13:28:01

Thanks so much for all your thoughts NLondonDad, I'm going to do exactly that to start off. I agree that they sound very lukewarm about the school. I wonder whether the private company behind the bid will back off when they crunch the numbers and see that there's a real danger they'll be under-subscribed. It doesn't sound like there's any parent enthusiasm expressed on their website.

LegoWidow Tue 25-Jun-13 11:06:29

I'm confused about Rokesly - I thought that the leap up in distance of offers was due to an increase to 3 form entry (as quoted by nlondondad from the Whitehall Park Residents Association further down the thread) but I'm sure that the school said that they've always been 3 form. If that is the case, I don't understand why the distance has leapt up so much (I think from approx. 0.3 to 1.4)

nlondondad Tue 25-Jun-13 23:29:29

Well I am confused also; it would seem that Rokesly has in fact been three form entry since 2010 - at least, so clearly I was wrong. Apologies.

An other reason for a sudden change, in this case increase, in admissions radius could be that last year had a lot of siblings and this year there are very few, but that is just specualation.

Roshbegosh Tue 25-Jun-13 23:32:15

Rokesly has gone down, it is nothing like it was a few years ago.

nlondondad Wed 26-Jun-13 00:57:08

It has been confirmed to me (reliably) that the Education Funding Agency has chosen to requisition the old Ashmount Site from Islington Council, which they have the power to do, without paying any compensation to the Council.
The site is to be transferred without charge to private ownership; the site will be given to Bellevue Education Limited. Bellevue Education Ltd is a commercial (for profit) company, which runs a chain of nine for profit fee paying schools here, and in Switzerland. (ref1) Bellevue made profits last year of £1.5m on a turnover of £3.7m, so its what I believe one would call "a nice little business". (ref2) Although if you want to rush out and buy some shares you cannot at the moment as they are not publically listed. Instead the investors are venture capitalists based in Switzerland using Russian money. Perhaps there will be a flotation at some point in the future. I am sure we will be all poised to add a bit of diversity to our share portfolios.

This decision will have some consequences for Ashmount, and indeed other schools in Islington.

1. First the capital account for Islington schools is now short by 3 million pounds. This was the, rather conservative figure, that Islington had assumed would be available from selling the site, at a special low price, to a housing association. It might well have been more. Consequently all Islington schools will experience a further cut in capital allocations. This is, in accounting terms, a straightforward transfer of capital resources from all the community schools in Islington to Bellevue Education Ltd. Ashmount will be less affected than some of our colleagues in the short run as our building is new. So one would hope that for a few years at least our capital requirements will be low.

2. From 2014 there will be an additional 58 places at reception in this area. All the indications from actual admissions figures this year is that certainly in 2014 there will be a significant surplus of places created in the immediate area. This could have the effect of intensifying competition between schools as there may not be enough school pupils to go around. The Free School website states that it will use the same admissions system and criteria as other islington Schools so the schools likely to notice this are, (In order of distance from the old Ashmount site) Hargrave Park, Highgate Primary, Coleridge School, and furthest away, Ashmount. (Incidentally going by the photographs on the school web site they appear to expect that all their children will be white...ref 3).

However it would be rash to jump to any conclusions about this as the Free School, at least in its first year may have significant difficulties in recruiting pupils. We know from the experience of other Free Schools that where they have been set up in areas where there are surplus school places that, untried as they are, parents are nervous of them. By definition they have no track record of any kind, no parental opinions, Ofsteds, or SATS. In this particular case there is also the issue of the building. We left it because it was terrible. We also left it because we knew that even spending millions of pounds one still ends up with a building which we thought not good enough for our children. We also know there were people in significant numbers who would not send their children to Ashmount because of the building. Our undersubscription only stopped when the move to the new building was fully confirmed. So it does seem to me, that even if they work out a way to clean the windows, that there is an issue here.

On the other hand Bellevue Education may be willing to invest some of their own resources in marketing; were they to choose to do so they could certainly outspend any community school. A reason why they might do so is related to the otherwise puzzling point as to why Bellevue Education are interested in getting involved in running a Free Primary School from which they are not allowed to make a profit. The obvious answer is that the Conservatives believe that state schools should be allowed to be owned and run by profit making companies, on a profit making basis. This is not allowed at present, because the Liberal Democrats do not agree,. However Mr Gove has promised a number of times that should the Conservatives be elected to Government in the next election, fixed for the summer of 2014, when the Free School will have been open for less than a year, the law will be changed to allow Free Schools to be run at a profit. Bellevue Education could well feel that the old Ashmount Site represents a useful speculation.

I would be interested in any comments, or further information, anyone might have.




nlondondad Wed 26-Jun-13 09:43:45

A silly typing error on my part. The general election is scheduled for summer 2015, and NOT 2014, as indeed should be clear from the context.

GreenEggsAndNaiceHam Wed 26-Jun-13 11:24:03

thanks nlondondad. Digesting this and working out what it could mean for my daughter if we lose our appeal for our favoured school and she ends up going to HP

Crouchendmumoftwo Wed 26-Jun-13 22:53:46

I havent noticed any shortage in places in Crouch End at all. Im in the catchment for Weston Park and there are 2 consecutive bulge years and what I have noticed is that parents who were going to send their kids to Rokesley or Campsbourne sent their kids to WP when they heard about the bulge classes, could that be a reason for the leap in catchment range?

Farewelltoarms Thu 27-Jun-13 11:38:06

nlondondad, I'm gobsmacked. There seems such clear evidence of an agenda here. Really depressing and irreversible.
Just looking at the Islington Free Primary site, there are various messages from locals seeming to confirm that there is a demand for such a school on the site of the old Ashmount.
Assuming these are genuine, what would be your response to those who say that Ashmount moving has left a hole in the community?

nlondondad Fri 28-Jun-13 10:36:47


Your remark about not noticing a shortage of places; that fits in with everything I have heard as well. I have had access to accurate Islington Admission figures, which show no sign of a squeeze on places on the Islington side of Hornsey Lane which a shortage in Crouch End could have been expected to have caused by overspill. Also there has been no coverage in the local press, which there was in previous years, and as you will see from this (now quite long) thread there has been no reporting of a shortage on Mumsnet.

The Islington position as of yesterday was that there are now 60 children in the whole of Islington who have not yet had an offer for one of the places they applied for originally. There are about 90 vacant places in reception in Islington schools so they will all get a place in the end BUt what is happening now is that refusals of offered places at schools are still coming in. When this creates a vacancy it is offered on, sometimes to someone already with a place but with a higher preference for the school on offer. So if they accept that it frees up a places in the school they are now declining. Also anyone who gets an offer like that, and accepts it, vanishes from all the waiting lists they are on.

What Islington admissions are trying to do is get as many people as possible into schools they applied for originally, and at the highest possible preference. Its only when that process slows down which it will not for some weeks that consideration might have to be given to allocating the few remaining to the nearest school which still has a vacancy.

The appeals process is running now also; it seems there are only a small number of these, and of course as numbers start to get small, even a handful of appeal successes will make a difference.

Two of the children without places - yet - live in an area bounded to the West by the Whittington Hospital, to the East by Crouch Hill, to the North by Hornsey Lane and to the south by Fairbridge Road. Its a big area, and I only know they live somewhere within it.

GreenEggsAndNaiceHam Fri 28-Jun-13 11:39:58

I know there are still a few places in the HP bulge class.

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