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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.

juztaparent Tue 29-Apr-14 14:31:53

Scarletbanner I read your post 'together' with the following one, hence the combined reply and I apologize for that mistake.
My choice of school would be purely on the quality of education for my child. Not whether it was public a free school or private.
If I chose that school on the basis of ideology or hearsay without the facts then I would be shooting myself in the foot.

whitehallparkdad Fri 02-May-14 22:00:23

I quote Nlondondad from a previous thread "ashmount school primary school" on the local Islington mumsnet:

"Nlondondad Sat 04-Aug-12 20:19:20
I am aware of no evidence that there is a "forecast shortage" of School places in the area of the current Ashmount site "from 2013" onwards. The only people who could make such a forecast are Islington Council and they have not made one. If you have evidence to support what you have said please give it. Also Ashmount School is not moving very far and the area around the current site will remain inside the new catchment.

Also I dont know where this "struggling to be in the catchment' of any school area could possibly be as a short distance to the East of the Ashmount site will give you a continued choice of Ashmount and Coleridge, while people to the West far enough to be out of the new Ashmount catchment would be well into the Hargrave Park catchment. Most people will continue to have a choice ......................"

But not me!

I live in what would have been the old catchment area (between the old and new ashmount sites) and have not been offered a place at ashmount. or Coleridge. Not Hargrove park either. In fact my child has not been offered a place by islington at all despite the continued protestations about there being no shortage of places. Clearly there is!

Thankfully it appears that the Whitehall Park School will mean that there is no longer such a shortage.

nlondondad Sat 03-May-14 00:22:00

I had been meaning to post some useful information I got from Islington Admissions recently, and this seems like a good time to post it. This information only applies to people resident in Islington.

This is the Islington Admissions information

"At this stage there are 171 children in the whole of Islington who did not get an offer for a school for which they expressed a preference. This is out of a couple of thousand applications.

This is a similar number to last year and we also have a similar number of vacant places available in Islington at this stage as we had last year.

This means that we can expect all applicants will eventually get an offer.

A crucial difference between the way Islington work and Haringey work is that Haringey give everyone an offer of some kind on offer day. In Haringey if you do not get one of your preferences you are "allocated' a place. An "allocated" place will be at the nearest school to you with vacancies.

In Islington if some one does not get an offer of a place for one of their preferences we hold on to see whether a place becomes available for them, at one of their preferences. Places become available in two ways:-

1. People who have been offered for one of their preferences decline the offer. The main reason for this at this stage is that people's circumstances have changed between the closing date of 15 January and offer day. A second reason which can be important in a few areas is that people have been awaiting a place at a private school which they did not know about on 15 January and have been using the state application as a back up.

2. Then after the second round of offers have been made enabled by the first round offers rejected, some people who were offered on the first round, get a second offer for a higher preference than before, accept that and so free up their original offer. Which then allows a third wave of offers to be made, and so on. Also as time passes people who have accepted an offer in good faith find their circumstances have changed - move house - move out of London - and relinguish the places. We call this the "churn"

By hanging on we aim to offer as many parents as possible one of their preferences rather than an allocation outside that. And to offer people the highest preference possible. So for example, some people who did not get their first preference on offer day, will by the end of the summer.

Last year, the number of people in Islington who had to be allocated at the end of the process to a school they had not applied for reduced to five. By the end all applicants had an offer for a primary school place in Islington, and there was a small surplus of places.

Of the 171 this year, in the whole of Islington, not offered one of their preferences on offer day 29 (17%) of the 171 live in the N19 area."

This is my comment

The postal district N19 is a lot bigger than the Whitehall Park Area and is served by eight or nine Islington Schools and by three Harringey schools.... so the 29 figure is actually pretty vague and will include people living quite far from the old Ashmount site.

This means that anyone who applied through the Islington will have an offer of a place by the end of the summer, all but a handful in the whole of Islington will have a place at a school they originally applied for, and moreover a significant number originally offered for a low preference will get a later offer for a higher preference.

So if you are one of the, at most, 29 and you have also applied for a place at Whitehall Park you will have had a separate offer direct from them. There is nothing to stop you from accepting that offer and hanging on to see what eventual offer you get from Islington, comparing the two, and making your choice.

In otherwords, in Islington, although the great majority of applicants DO get an offer on offer day, the admissions process, is a process, and extra offers keep being made throughout the summer, and everyone gets an offer by the end. Some even get more than one, with the better one being later. This explains why waiting lists matter and why you should make sure you are on the waiting lists of all schools you would accept an offer at, either in preference to your current offer, or if you are in the upsetting position of no offer, as yet, well then a school you would accept.

This of course does not detract from the fact that it is a stressful process for the minority involved.

whitehallparkdad Sat 03-May-14 19:24:07

I wonder if Islingtons forecasting also includes the future potential development at both the ashmount site and also the redevlopment of the university site at the bottom of Highgate hill which will be adding 350 properties. I would suspect some of these may even have children of school age. I wonder what school they may look to go to.

nlondondad Sun 04-May-14 23:39:04

Yes, Islington's forecasting does take account of new housing developments and their potential "child yield"

whitehallparkdad Mon 05-May-14 22:28:11

Really? How fascinating? Perhaps you could share the "child yield" data they are using. Do you work for the council nlondondad?

nlondondad Mon 05-May-14 22:37:09

Whether I work for the council not relevant. School place demand forecasting is carried out by all London Boroughs and the forecasts are revised on an at least annual basis. The concept of "child yield" applies to new housing and reflects the type of housing. So for example the conversion of Archway Tower into bedsits will produce a development of negligible child yield. Once the Peabody development you mention is finally agreed (gets planning permission) and the types of housing known, then a "child yield" will be calculated.

jakecat Mon 05-May-14 23:08:13

Nlondondad just following through that logic - if Islington revise or revisit their forecast each year and if planning permission is granted for the Ashmount housing development & the Peabody development, and say those developments complete in 2017 providing family homes (which I understand is the intention in terms of the nature of the housing - I am speculating about the timescale), then Islington would have to increase school places in the following years to take into account those extra children because the figures are already tight. None of the existing schools in this area appear to have capacity for that (apart from Whitehall Park). Particularly if you then factor in that the birth rate has been increasing year on year too, which exerts natural pressure in school places even before you factor in the creation of extra housing.

nlondondad Sat 10-May-14 16:00:59

It turns out this thread has not gone unnoticied.....

ZucchiniPie Thu 15-May-14 15:28:49

In case this is reassuring to anyone, we live in Whitehall Park and were 12th on the waiting list for Ashmount on Reception offer day last year (we live 0.416 miles from the school). DD got a place there six weeks into the autumn term - and at least one more child further down from us on the waiting list got in the following week.

So even though I agree all of this is a total mess and an extraordinary source of stress (it was equally bad last year, although we didn't have the added element of not knowing whether to choose the free school), things do change quite a lot over the five or so months from the day you get your offer to the time the children actually start in September (or if you're willing to jump ship mid-way through term as we did, even longer)

nlondondad Fri 23-May-14 18:52:00


Thats a really informative post about how it feels to be at the receiving end of the admissions process. In fact I have been wondering if there is any way of speeding up the process whereby parents respond to offers of a place. At the moment when an offer is sent out, people are asked to reply, yes or no, by a certain date. But if they just do not respond the admissions people are not allowed by the rules to "take that as a no then" but instead have to follow up individually with phone calls etc. And failure to respond promptly is a major cause of delay.

I was wondering, but this would require legislation I presume, whether there would be support for FINING parents who did not respond in time?

No doubt opinion will divide between those who think that a bit over the top, and those hanging on for a place who would cheer me on.

By the way the number of children in Islington who have not yet received an offer for a preffered school, one for which they applied, stands now at 102. Whole bunch of new offers to go out early June.

nlondondad Wed 28-May-14 18:09:45

An interesting post on the Local Schools network about the Whitehall Park and the recent local elections. Contains a potted history of Whitehall Park School proposal, and explains why a lot of local people, including it seems a lot of voters, do not like it.

Juniorjones Wed 28-May-14 19:16:00

Interesting post written by you nlondondad, please stop pretending it is written by an independent third party.

tiggytape Wed 28-May-14 22:25:23

I was wondering, but this would require legislation I presume, whether there would be support for FINING parents who did not respond in time?

It is very understandable that parents want things to move as quickly as possible and most parents do reply quickly. Those that need to be reminded often do not understand the need to reply or reply quickly (remember most people only go through it a few times and often years apart so aren't always up on the rules).

Admisson law requires a council to issue reminders and give parents some extra time to be contacted. There are reasons for this:
Letters get lost or delayed - LAs cannot remove a place from someone who did not receive the offer or got it very late.
People go on holiday - you cannot expect everyone on every waiting list to sit next to their letterbox from March 17th - September 3rd on the off chance an offer letter arrives. If they are away when it comes then delays are unavoidable.

Pushing people for a quick answer won't stop places being blocked by those that have a private offer too. They simply reply to say 'yes' to their state offer knowing they can always turn it down at any later date. Nothing can be done about that just as anyone else is free to say 'yes' but then decide to Home Ed instead at the last minute.

It would help of councils didn't work in batches as some do (saving up a pile of offer letters to process in one go rather than doing each one as and when it comes up). This definitely can be an issue as happens when people at number 1 on the list are told be academies that an offer can now be made only for it to then take another 2 weeks for the council to actually send the letter.

nlondondad Wed 28-May-14 23:13:55


You are purporting to identify me in real life. This is strictly against Mumsnet rules. I am advised that I must refuse to confirm or deny any purported identification.

But I would make the point that just because I put in a link to something written by someone that is not evidence that I am that person. After all I also put in a link a few message earlier to an article in the Evening Standard. Doesnt mean I am that journalist either.

You would be well advised to drop this matter now.

whitehallparkdad Thu 29-May-14 08:46:19


I find the tone of your last note on this thread threatening to say least and completely out of order.


TheNewBrown Thu 29-May-14 17:14:08


I think if you openly declare on Mumsnet "I am a governor at Ashmount Primary School, and a member of the Islington Schools Forum" like you did on this thread and then continually link to blog posts on the Islington Schools Forum written by a governor at Ashmount Primary School it is not so much JuniorJones revealing your identity, as your own idiocy.

nlondondad Thu 29-May-14 17:35:03


Calling someone an idiot is not an argument, just an insult.

But I have never linked to a blog post on the "Islington Schools Forum" let alone "continually." Actually I do not think such a blog exists. i mostly link to (relevant) newspaper articles actually. The information I posted about myself on the thread you indicated applys to a number of people. Which I suppose is why mumsnet allowed it.


I did not intend to be threatening, nor in fact have you said you felt threatened, but just incase, I merely wished to make the point that I thought you were pursuing an unprofitable line, as actually who I am, or indeed who you are, not relevant to whether the arguments we use are valid.

And the rule is that on mumsnet we are all people with pennames. And that we dont make postings seeking to identify other mumsnet users.

TheNewBrown Thu 29-May-14 18:00:23


I always find your protestations that who you are has no bearing on the validity of your arguments laughable. Knowing that your one-man campaign against Whitehall Park School is being waged because you are terrified that the school you represent will return to being undersubscribed if it is has to live in the shadow of another potentially 'outstanding' school does undermine pretty much all of your arguments.

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Thu 29-May-14 18:03:54

The rule isn't that we are people with pen names. You are more than able to identify yourself, or post under your own name, stating who you are if you choose. Some people do. That's why your post about your being a governor stood, not because it applies to several people. MN is also not a moderated site. They won't read even a quarter of the posts here unless they are reported.

I agree the rule is definitely that you don't out other posters. Although, if you are the person in that link, there might be a bit of a grey area where it could be argued that you outed yourself.

unrealhousewife Thu 29-May-14 18:23:03

Please read carefully the difference between these two statements:

Children did not get a place at any school.

Children did not get a place at any of their top three choices of school.

nlondondad Thu 29-May-14 23:40:09

I do not represent a school: nor are any of my posts on here criticising the proposal to set up the Whitehall Park school based on a concern for any individual school. I am, it is true concerned for all the Schools in Islington which will loose collectivily three million pounds from their repair budget. I am also concerned for the welfare of the children who will remain in over crowded housing, because of the loss of council housing that would otherwise have gone on the site.

As a taxpayer I am concerned both at the waste of money embodied by the Whitehall Park scheme, and the transfer of public assets paid for by tax to a private company.

By the way all schools are "potentially" outstanding: Its getting there is the trick. It was failing to observe this distinction in its publicity that lead to Whitehall Park Schools publicity being censured by the Advertising Standards Agency.

Bellevue, has of course no track record in running Free Schools, being still in the first year of the only one it runs, but it has a big track record in making promises.

meditrina Thu 29-May-14 23:46:57

" I am advised that I must refuse to confirm or deny ...."

By whom?

I have noticed you offering to relay enquiries to Islington. But I have also noticed some very strange descriptions of quite ordinary Admissions procedures, which led me to conclude that you were new to schools issues.

nlondondad Mon 23-Jun-14 17:02:17

Interesting article in the Islington Gazette here:

nlondondad Thu 26-Jun-14 10:16:29

A story has appeared in a Wolverhampton paper. Is this the future for Whitehall Park School? This is an edited version of the story, full story available at the link below.

"Anand Primary School opened its doors in Wolverhampton in September last year.

But it can today be revealed the body set up to oversee the running of the school has agreed to relinquish its control amid fears about the low number of pupils - just 20 - on the school roll.

Headteacher Kulbinder Kaur Pouni, who took up her post in September 2013, told the Express & Star she had resigned and would be leaving on September 1.

Anand Primary aims to have 420 pupils on its books by 2019....

...But only 20 children started classes last September - 40 fewer than the initial target of 60 starts.

And a letter from the Wolverhampton Local Education Authority sent out to governors in February stated only 14 pupils had put the school down as first choice for next year...."

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