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Been offered brand new free school or last choice

(456 Posts)
Lazymama2 Wed 16-Apr-14 16:35:03

We're not sure what to do as have been offered a place at a brand new school which is with walking distance but has not been 'fitted out' yet (buildings are there). There is very little concrete info on term dates, start and finish times, curriculum and obviously no past performance on which to base a decision. Also no older kids to look up to. Other school is our last choice and has improved from satisfactory to good. DH does not want Dd to go to this school and would prefer private. I, on the other hand, quite like idea of a brand new school.

Thoughts/ideas anyone?

PS please dont turn this into a debate of state vs. private as I believe every parent does what is best for thier child/family circumstances and im not for/against one or the other.

AuroraSim Wed 16-Apr-14 17:55:24

Hmm... It's a hard one. I personally in those circumstance (and if I could afford it) would go private.

But it's your choice, can you not appeal? Or home ed x

nlondondad Wed 16-Apr-14 18:05:36

The whole thing about "Free Schools" is that, although state supported they can have their own curriculum, and are, for example free to employ unqualified teachers.

I would strongly recommend that you check out the Free School very carefully; who is promoting it, will they employ only qualified teachers (if you think that matters) what curriculum are they going to use? What is the timescale for the "fitting out"? These are all questions they ought to be able to answer.

turkeyboots Wed 16-Apr-14 18:06:10

A brand new school can be great. Ours was new 7 years ago and when the first starters left for secondary it was seriously emotional. But depends on what type of free school it is though I guess, some seem rather odd.

Juniorjones Wed 16-Apr-14 19:49:04

Where is the free school as we are in a similar situation? However we have only been offered a brand new free school opening this September I.e. None of our six through our local council. This is despite living just over 400m from our nearest two community schools who have a combined intake of 180 places. (And having put up with a horribly divisive local campaign with the council claiming that there is no shortage of school places in our local area).

Nlondon dad is right you should look into the free school and check all the relevant details and whether teachers will be qualified etc. But if they are any good they will bend over backwards to give you that information and having done that ourselves we are happy to accept a place even if it is a bit of a step into the unknown. However just FYI nlondon dad has pretty much led a mumsnet crusade against our local free school in Islington (Whitehall Park School) so be aware that he is not commenting as an uninterested bystander but someone who has been vociferous on the subject.

Totalshambles Wed 16-Apr-14 21:18:32

Same happened to us, with I suspect the same school. Got none of our choices and given the free school. I think it's outrageous that local government can consider their obligation to provide a place as discharged, by offering something which is not currently a school. Ok maybe it's an option for some adventurous types, and hopefully once it's open it will be a school but right now it isn't. You cannot visit. It has one head teacher and some strange corporate administrative function, no classrooms, no information about curriculum or staffing, and no guarantees about any of that for September. It is a complete shambles. There is clearly a shortage of places so those arguing there is not are proved wrong. There can be no sustainable, credible argument for failing to offer a decent school actually on existence in an allegedly sophisticated country! The fact is that there are insufficient places (or very poor admin which leads to an improper allocation of places) for the number of children in some areas and it makes you pretty sick when you spend your days as a taxpayer busting your gut to contribute to the education budget.

nlondondad Wed 16-Apr-14 22:27:10


Did you apply to Hargrave Park School as one of your six preferences?

Lazymama2 Wed 16-Apr-14 22:27:36

Thanks for all replies so far. Id rather not say which school but Totalshambles probably is the same school. I think its a consortium setting up the school and theyve already set up one and plans in pipeline for more. It seems like a standard state school, not a faith school or set up by parents, teachers have teaching quals, i made sure to ask this question at one of the meetings.

Im unnerved by the fact that its all promises and what if people decide not to accept their places, will this make the school unviable? What will happen then?

Totalshambles totally agree with you espec on last point!

Lazymama2 Wed 16-Apr-14 22:30:38

Junior not same school as you as our council have been very supportive of new school.

nlondondad Wed 16-Apr-14 22:38:28

@totalshambles what Juniorjones is talking about is an area in North London, close to Hornsey lane which is the boundary between Islington and Haringey is that your area?

(By the way I did oppose the Whitehall Park school for a number of reasons that seemed to me good, but that is a dead issue now as Mr Gove has signed a funding agreement with it, so it will go ahead providing it gets enough children. However I regard opposing ALL Free Schools as being unsound in the same way that supporting ALL Free Schools is. Each has to be taken on its merits. So the advice I would give anyone considering a place at a Free School is to investigate the particualr case.

For th record I am still unconvinced as to the merits of the Whitehall Park School project, characterised as it has been by much spin. I note they have just had to withdraw some of their claims following an intervention by the ASA.....

For that reason I am really concerned if there are people for which that school is the only option, and actually really surprised. Totalshambles if you are in the same area did you apply to Hargrave Park School?

TheNewBrown Wed 16-Apr-14 22:45:29


A simple apology would suffice

Juniorjones Wed 16-Apr-14 22:54:20

@nlondon dad would you like me to forward you my email from Islington council and see how surprised you are then? For the record we live to the east of Ashmount road so by your helpful postings on the subject over many months we should have a choice of Ashmount or Coleridge. We have neither. Funnily enough we weren't surprised because Islington council, whilst officially being against Whitehall Park pretty much told us during the application process that we should apply there as it may be our only offer.

Oh and as it was you who complained to the ASA about them it is hardly a case that you 'note they had to withdraw some of their claims' you initiated it.

nlondondad Wed 16-Apr-14 22:55:02

@The new brown

I have nothing to apologise for.

Juniorjones Wed 16-Apr-14 22:59:44

@nlondondad whilst it may be beyond you to apologise, doesn't the fact that you have been surprised by people not getting an offer mean you could at least acknowledge that some of your many postings on the subject have been mid-leading?

Juniorjones Wed 16-Apr-14 23:00:33


whatcolour Wed 16-Apr-14 23:02:47

We have a free school opening in 2015 and I suspect it will be very popular as it is being set up by a very credible set up. I have no vested interest in the school but supported its bid even though my kids won't go there as we are in a place of dire shortages. I would think positively and get really involved in shaping a new school. If you are still unhappy by KS2 then move .

Juniorjones Wed 16-Apr-14 23:11:02

@nlondondad just saw your earlier post. Yes we applied to Hargrave park. It was third after Ashmount and Coleridge.

nlondondad Wed 16-Apr-14 23:11:59


Do forward the email to me: I would be really interested to see it. And yes, I am surprised because what you are reporting as having happened is against the trend. I am puzzled and would like to investigate further.

On the ASA thing:

My evidence that there was a complaint, is based on the announcement of it made, quite properly, on the Whitehall Park School Website.

Who made the complaint is irrelevant, what matters is that it was upheld by the Advertising Standards Agency.


I probably would have complained about the inaccurate advertising, if I had thought of it.

It really concerns me that you appear to be being put in the position of only having the Free School, dodgy advertising and all to go to. If that is the case you have a legitimate grievance with Islington Council and one option you would have is to contact Greg Foxsmith about it, who is an outgoing independent Councillor with good knowledge of this area.

if you like I can PM his email to you.

nlondondad Wed 16-Apr-14 23:17:25


I was always very careful in what I wrote to ensure that all my statements were evidenced, and where they were forecasts to point that out. I dont agree that I was misleading.

Nor I should probably point out is it by any means certain you will remain without an offer, a significant number of offers are made later in the process, but without more information I cannot estimate how likely that will be for you.

duchesse Wed 16-Apr-14 23:26:01

Don't know about the team behind "your" free school but ours was a patch of wasteland in late July/first week in August, and was a fully functioning school (albeit in portacabins) by the first week of September. Obviously it depends on the team getting its shit together fast after getting the DofE approval.

TheNewBrown Wed 16-Apr-14 23:29:28


TheNewBrown Wed 16-Apr-14 23:35:33

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

nlondondad Wed 16-Apr-14 23:38:59


the problem is that the minister is yet to decide on the allocation of the site for the new school; the promoters of Whitehall Park School want to use an abandoned school site to be requisitioned (without compensation) from Islington Council, which if that happened without qualification would hit the finances (capital budget) of every community school in Islington.

But its a large site, larger than the rules require it to be for a two form entry school and the minister is proposing to split it in two, with half being used for the Free School and the other half for another project.

Islington Council have responded to this by saying that if the minister gives back half the site to them, so they can build council housing on it, they will withdraw their opposition to the Free School. (Half a loaf...I suppose)

And there it rests.

Its a mess.

nlondondad Wed 16-Apr-14 23:46:39

I would just say that I want a good school for every child, and on the evidence I have the particular free School proposal we are talking about does not advance this. Anyway you can accuse me of anything you like, but really it does not help anyone who is reading this thread because they want assistance, or even just to find out what is going on.

This is "not about me"

Totalshambles Thu 17-Apr-14 01:14:49

Nlondondad and JuniorJones, we are talking about the same school and I am in the exact same situation as JuniorJones except perhaps for our order of choices and our as the crow flies locations...

We were offered no existing schools.

I have no intention of sending my son to this school. He is not a guinea pig, I will not expose him to life on a building site, with teachers who have not yet been recruited, to a curriculum which may or may not be sensible, into a daily routine that I have no details about, I just won't do that. Because of what has happened to us, I am obviously convinced that there is a need for more school places (otherwise I would have been offered a place at an existing, decent school). I wish the free school well but it is not an option for me at this time. Perhaps five years down the road if it had proven itself to be working well I might have considered it but there is not the luxury of that time and I will not gamble with my child's education. And I am absolutely incensed that in a first world country, which purportedly prides itself on its education system, parents should be put in this situation.

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