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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 28-Jun-13 15:33:44


Depressing, certainly. And a number of people seem to think that it is no coincidence the Islington is a Labour controlled borough. Whether irreversible I am not so sure, tho' I may be naive.

The two issues that seem the key ones, are first demand - and that is the one everyone is focusing on now. And second what will they do with the old building. You can see why people focus on demand as that is the obvious point to grasp. It is clear the school with its extra 58 places would not have been needed this year. At all. And so even with some growth in demand next year, it is hard to see how they will fill in 2014.

The building thing however is the really weird point. They really do seem to be intending to use the old building. Now if parents in large numbers would not send their children to the old Ashmount, even tho' OFSTED said it was a "good" school, producing a situation where from year 3 upwards the school has significant vacant places, and they did not send their children because of the building (which there is evidence for in the sense that that was a reason parents gave for not sending their children AND as soon as the move was confirmed, bingo! Oversubscription) why will they send their children when it is a Free School in the old building?

Or am I missing something?

nlondondad Fri 28-Jun-13 15:40:32

i suppose in a way I am asking whether Bellevue really know what they have taken on, what "due diligence" have they done, and how much money is the Education Funding agency prepared to spend on the refurb.

Architects who advised the school on a "pro bono" basis say that once the refurb begins, all sorts of problems will appear. There is a LOT of asbestos for example, which at the moment is stable, but once the refurb starts...

However the cynical have suggested that once they get to take over the site, that they will investigate, say the problem much greater than they realised, and say the only thing to do is demolish and rebuild funding by selling part of the large site off...

nlondondad Fri 28-Jun-13 21:28:01


You ask about the school moving leaving a hole in the community.

Well in a way I would hope that the schools absence would be noted and regretted; would not say much about the school if the general attitude was "good riddance"

Also as I live only 5 minutes -one road way - from the old site I am well aware of how marvellous it was when I had children at the school to live so close.

However we cannot all live five minutes from our children's school, and the school has not moved far. By the shortest route its a brisk ten minutes. Down the Parkland Walk, (The disused railway line now a linear park) car free, and very pleasant on a sunny day its between 15 and 20 minutes.

So thats the first part of my response.

GreenEggsAndNaiceHam Fri 28-Jun-13 22:21:03

So some of the large site could be sold off to a housing developer? I suppose depending on what sort of dwellings are built, would depend on the impact on the Free school and the local schools. Iif lots of one and two bed flats are built, people may have babies there, but are unlikely to stick around for school. If the houses are family size then the families that live in them may send their children to the Free school. Although saying that we live in what's really a one bed flat that's had a second bedroom carved out of it. So maybe lots of two bed flats would produce enough primary age children for the school.

Grasping at straws

nlondondad Sun 30-Jun-13 18:41:36

I see what you mean, that a combined demolish of the current building and the building of a new school ANd housing on the site could generate enough residents to fill the school. I dont quite see it myself, as you need to be producing, for a one form entry -half the size of the currently proposed school - 30 children EVERY YEAR. Suppose it depends on average size of families and how long they stay. Islington's plan was to build social housing to reduce over crowding, and part of that was likely to have been sheltered housing suitable for older people to encourage them to move out of family size flats, to let families move in. So no extra children there.

However that is a bit academic as any DFE sponsored demolish and rebuild and sell would be selling the houses that would get the highest price, no idea what that demographic would look like.

nlondondad Mon 01-Jul-13 18:36:51


As this thread has moved on a bit I will quote from your earlier message I have not answered yet, and then give the answer:

You wrote

"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."

My response is to note that there are ten comments displayed, of which two were acknowledgements of comments by the organisers, so that leaves eight messages appearing to be from residents. Of those seven were from people who a. said they did not wish to see the school go and b. did not have any children to send. You can see that support from people with primary School age children matters rather more when assessing demand. That leaves one more message, which is so interesting I will quote in full and respond to it next. After a bit, when I have put the evening meal on. Hmm, now should I open a bottle of red?

Farewelltoarms Mon 01-Jul-13 19:36:56

Thanks nlondon. I didn't find them particularly convincing but am happy to be corrected by someone who does agree with the idea of turning the old Ashmount in the new school.
Generally I think that website is pants. Whatever one thinks of the existing free schools, at least there seems to be some passion and oomph behind them. This is all so meh. 'We'll welcome pupils from all backgrounds' blah blah blah 'happy, nurturing environment'.
What's happened to your Islington Free School thread? I was going to post something specifically on it.

nlondondad Mon 01-Jul-13 20:16:19

I put the Islington Free School Thread in "education"; perhaps that was not a good move...

Should I have put it here, in Primary?

Farewelltoarms Mon 01-Jul-13 20:35:15

No I'm sure education's fine! I misremembered.

nlondondad Tue 02-Jul-13 16:13:54

yes, Farewelltoarms, the "action", such as there is has moved to

Which is therefore the "now" place to go for an argument. But before I stroll over there, to see how they are all getting on, and cause some trouble I would say that this whole thread from the original post seems to amount to saying that this year there was not really a shortage of places. But the thread does seem to have functioned as a useful source of information about admissions in Islington.

Also I promised to come back to your question

""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"

I amswered that, just above, by pointing out all messages save one did not indicate that there was an actual child in search of a place.

That message read in full

"Cressida Road resident
March 14, 2013 at 10:15 am
I telephoned Islington Council yesterday about my daughter’s possible primary school place in the area (Whitehall Park) and was told she would not get in to any of the local schools. I was told she would probably be offered a place at Copenhagen School at the back end of King’s Cross! Not exactly local.

We are therefore left the choice of moving or going private. I am not keen on either.

I find the attitude of the Council extraordinary. We have all had letters from the head of the Education department telling us there is no shortage of places in Islington and yet when you telephone them direct they say there is.

I therefore wholeheartedly endorse your proposal and hope it is set up ready for my daughter to start in September 2014.'

Now this is an odd message for two reasons:-

First of all it is not clear whether she is talking about one daughter or two. Because of course any enquiry about entry in 2014 simply cannot be answered by anyone at this stage, as we are only dealing with admissions for 2013. So either she has two children, a year apart, or she is confused and by 2014 she means 2013.

Secondly so far as this years admissions are concerned it is not true. No one living in N19 has been offered a place at Copenhagen Street. Which is not surprising as to have been offered such a place in March she would have had to have applied for it, and why would she apply for a school so far away? At that stage she would, if she had applied, have been offered Hargrave Park anyway.

So the poster is either seriously confused, or has in fact made it up, or possibly this is a post by a third party relaying a story they have heard. and getting it wrong. or something. Whatever it is it is not evidence of demand.

GreenEggsAndNaiceHam Tue 02-Jul-13 21:17:36

Hmm. When I ( a Camden resident) rang Islington admissions they very helpfully told me of all the islington schools which had no, or very short, waiting lists. At this point Copenhagen was mentioned as a school I would likely to be offered if I went on the waiting list. Some time later *nl

GreenEggsAndNaiceHam Tue 02-Jul-13 21:23:52

after having put myself on the waiting list for HP we did in fact get a place.

So maybe the person who wrote the above was so distraught she wasn't listening properly to what islington admissions were saying? I can't remember when the additional bulge places were given out in islington, but nay e the above message was written before they were announced? She would only have been given HP at this point if she had it down as a preference. It sounds like it wasn't ;)

GreenEggsAndNaiceHam Tue 02-Jul-13 21:25:19

Islington have been helpful, that wasn't sarcastic. I think the telephone team deserve a medal

GreenEggsAndNaiceHam Tue 02-Jul-13 21:28:41

Ignore all that, I just re read your post nlondondad. Blame the night spent at royal free A&E.... Did you open that wine?

nlondondad Tue 02-Jul-13 23:32:02

regarding the wine. Oh, yes I did. I take it you have got back from the A & E in reasonably good order. My younger brother, who has five children, got to the stage where his A and E greeted him by first name...They were ACTIVE children. All grown up now, in fact he is a grandfather. Very alarming.

Anyway. Possibly I digress.

I am actually really interested in your report of the conversation with admissions because it is very likely that the 'offered a place at Copenhagen" story did represent a distorted version of that advice. especially if it was being re told second hand. So thank you for that. It had been bugging me.

GreenEggsAndNaiceHam Wed 03-Jul-13 10:02:58

It was a PFB A&E emergency but the hospital were very good about it.

nlondondad Sat 06-Jul-13 17:18:04

it would seem that the life of this thread, for this year anyway, is now drawing peacefully to, well hibernation at any rate.

The latest about admissions this year is that in this area, there is a small surplus of places, so every child has got a school place. Some schools have significant waiting lists made up of people who although they have a place still prefer the school they are waiting for, and some will certainly get their wish. The school I have the waiting list number for, Ashmount has, at, present 58 on the list. Before a supporter of the proposed free school pops up and argues that the means "58 children without a place" it does not. To repeat, its 58 children who have places but would still like a place at a particular school, Ashmount. To suggest they would have been satisfied with a putative 'Free School" instead, somewhat speculative. Also these 58 children will likely be on more than one waiting list.

Further afield an OfSted "outstanding" primary in central Islington was seeking to fill a couple of vacant places only last week. Which just shows that having vacant places does not mean immediately that you are a school people avoid, just not enough children close enough to go around.

The Free School if established will create in the region of 20 per cent more places than children at reception in this area of London, so absolutely certainly no shortage next year either!

The new thread discussing the Free School, is here:

nlondondad Sun 07-Jul-13 21:16:51

here are some figures just in, from Haringey.

They show:-

1. In the area of Highgate, Crouch End, Hornsey, Stroud Green (served by these schools Campsbourne Infants, Coleridge Primary, Highgate Primary, Rokesly Infants, St Aidan's, St Mary's CE Primary, St Michael’s CE Primary N6, St Peter in Chains RC Infants, Stroud Green,Weston Park.) all applicants now have a place and there are three reception places unfilled. So no shortage of places this year, now confirmed.

2. The number of applicants, in each year showed a clear trend of increasing each year from 625 (in 2007) to a peak of 700 in (2011) and has now fallen in two successive years to this years total of 629.

3. During this time the supply of places increased by 90, which is why although there was a place shortage in 2007 on 625 applicants, there is none this year on 629.

nlondondad Fri 12-Jul-13 13:02:46

Results from Islington show that in the relevant area there are five surplus places. The number of admissions appeals in Islington, in general, are significantly down this year.

nlondondad Thu 18-Jul-13 10:37:33

The Islington Schools' Forum met last week and considered school place planning for next year.

Islington takes the view that the number of applicants for Islington Primary Schools, which rose last year, will rise again next year. In order to accommodate these extra numbers Islington plan to re expand schools which contracted during the past period of falling rolls. Over the next few months all schools will be re surveyed to check how many children, under strict government rules which aim to guarantee enough space per child, each school could in fact accommodate, and how much it would cost to re instate the space.

They will be looking at a combination of factors; the particular areas where demand will rise, mainly to the south of the Borough, choosing popular schools to expand, and value for money.

All children will have places in schools that meet the government standards for local authority schools and do this at low cost.

(Oddly, although Islington are required by law to adhere to certain minimum standards for school accommodation, Free Schools are not.)

In the area this thread is about, without the proposed Free School, there would be no shortage, especially as applications in Crouch End, in Haringey, now seem to be on a downward trend for the third year running.

Should the Free School open on the old Ashmount Site, albeit in a building abandoned by Islington as not fit for purpose for use by a Islington Primary School, there will be a surplus of places in the area of about 20 per cent.

nlondondad Wed 31-Jul-13 23:59:51

According to the DFE the proposers of the Free School on the old Ashmount site have evidence of parental demand equal to 120 percent of reception places for Autumn 2014. As the admissions figures show no shortage of places this year in the area, with a handful of surplus places, and numbers of reception applicants in Crouch End have fallen this year for the second consecutive year this seems to mean either lots of surplus places or the school age population in the area is going to go up by 25 per cent.

atlassneezed Thu 01-Aug-13 17:30:38

nlondondad - do you think the drop in demand for places at schools in Haringey and Islington from it's high in 2011 is due to people leaving the area because of benefit changes? Presumably any families affected by the benefit cap (£500 per week) will no longer be able to afford areas like Islington and Haringey (especially if in private rentals) and the cap is apparently mostly affecting families with children. It might explain why demand has fallen?

atlassneezed Thu 01-Aug-13 17:33:10

I wonder if once all the benefit cuts/universal credit has come in there will be all these new schools or schools that opened bulge classes years before without any children to go in them?

nlondondad Thu 01-Aug-13 19:08:00

The drop in numbers, as measured by the total number of first preference applications, was in the Crouch End area. Thus:

The number of applicants in each year showed a clear trend of increasing each year from 625 (in 2007) to a peak of 700 in (2011) and then fell in two successive years to this year’s total of 629.
During this time the supply of places increased by 90, which is why, although there was a place shortage in 2007 on 625 applicants, there is none this year on 629. And these are Haringey figures.

On the Islington side of the border near Crouch End, numbers rose a little, but places increased (by 20). I do not have detailed figures (yet)

Your comment about the benefit cap is a good one, I think the answer is no one really knows. In Islington a number of schools were identified as being possible cases where families might have to move away. and of course they would be big families, but the schools in the area of Islington I am talking about were not one of these, so possibly not an effect so far. But there is often a lag about these things.

nlondondad Sat 03-Aug-13 11:34:14

There is a relevant thread about Free Schools on "Am I being unreasonable" I have made some contributions there relating to the proposal to set up a Free Primary School in Islington, to use the old Ashmount site, which would serve the area we are discussing here (and which does not seem to have a shortage of places)

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