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Primary school place shortage in Crouch End September 2015

(388 Posts)
cgehansen Mon 27-Apr-15 20:52:22

Hi, Has anyone been affected by the shortage of primary school places in Crouch End? We put the 6 closest schools to us by distance on our form which are Weston Park Primary, Rokesly Infant, Coleridge Primary, St Aidan's, Ashmount Primary and Campsbourne Infant. We've been turned down from all of them and instead have been offered a school in Wood Green which is a 48 minute walk away. I know of at least 5 others in the same situation.

I'm trying to get a group of us together to take this up with the Council so if you are in the same boat or know somebody else in this situation in Crouch End it would be great to hear from you. Only in large numbers can we make the Council take notice.

threegoingonthirty Mon 27-Apr-15 20:53:36

nlondondad will be along soon - he is an expert on that area. You might want to PM him if he doesn't see this thread.

cosmicglittergirl Mon 27-Apr-15 21:20:51

Bumping for you, I live in CE, but DDs are both under two so can't help. I wish you luck.

MsFiremanSam Mon 27-Apr-15 22:20:53

Good luck. In the same position in Leeds, where large group of families have formed a support group to challenge the Council. Public meeting last Friday with councillors and MPs, and significant press coverage - we've been promised an additional 60 places in the next few weeks. All the best with it and hope you get the outcome you want.

meditrina Mon 27-Apr-15 22:39:17

According to the Local Government Association, 66 out of 152 council areas with responsibility for schools have an excess of prospective pupils to places.

The usual routine for all areas is to wait a bit to see how the numbers shake down (especially in areas with second round offers). This should give a better idea of the shortfall they need to cover. LEAs have to create the places somehow, usually by bulge classes (eg in one recent round, a London borough created 80 bulge places, and filled 76 of the immediately).

It's difficult to get decent information on numbers without places, not just because it's still variable but also because councils tend to use spin if they think they can get away with it (best recent example: 'all parents have an offer, they just don't know where yet' umm, utter bollocks: parents either have an offer or they don't, LEA might be confident they can cover the shortfall before September but that doesn't mean the parents have an offer now). Which is a rather wordy way of saying that you may not find out how many local parents did not receive any offer on national allocations day from any unobfuscated official source, and all you can do is ask around to try to get in touch with others in the same circumstances. And then pester, politely, but with very specific questions about numbers affected, options to create places, and key dates in the decision making process.

cgehansen Mon 27-Apr-15 23:04:23

Thanks for all the support. I saw the story about Leeds. We're hoping to put similar pressure on Haringey to do something. There are people near us in Crouch End who still haven't been offered a local place from 2014 and have ended up home schooling. There's a surplus of places in the east of the borough and a shortage of 60 places in Crouch End based on the council's own figures. Our local community school has only offered 2 places out of 30 on distance this year.

Mopmay Tue 28-Apr-15 09:24:44

I think this is a really good example of where parents need to fight for the right for a local school for primary children. The situation is awful and children criss crossing boroughs is madness. I witnessed it this morning - three schools with parents all walking past each other in opposite directions instead of to nearest school. This is due to the mix of faith schools so distance is not the main criteria. I would someone love to map out how different it would be if everyone went to their nearest and walked less than 0.4 m to it. Traffic too would evaporate.

Soverytired4 Tue 28-Apr-15 10:52:34

You must be quite near St Mary's - a great school, and I think 3 form entry now. Worth getting on a waiting list perhaps?

21pc Tue 28-Apr-15 19:34:09

Just out of interest what school did you get?

DrMouse Tue 28-Apr-15 22:23:08

Weston park offered 6 children based on distance to the school according to Haringey?
Locally I know a couple of people in the same situation as you. They seems to be waiting until the they know their place on the waiting list.

nlondondad Tue 28-Apr-15 22:45:49

OP I am not sure that I can live up to threegoingonthirty's billing, but still, here goes.

What has happened is that Haringey, mindful of its legal duty to provide every child with a place, noting that you did not get an offer for any of your six preferences has given you the best offer they can. At the nearest school with a vacant place on round one. Hence the offer of the school in Wood Green.

The first move is to make sure you are on the waiting list for all six schools you originally applied for, that may well be automatic in Haringey, but check.

The second move is to go on the waiting list for any school you would regard as acceptable. I dont know your views on Church Schools but if you will accept a C of E go on the waiting list for St Mary's, which has indeed go up to three form entry, started with a bulge class last year, so may have fewer siblings than usual this year.

Is Highgate in your range? then go on the waiting list for Highgate Primary and if a C of E school acceptable, St Michaels in Highgate, provided its not too far.

Further South Stroud Green School,

third move

Contact your local councillors and ask for their help. There may be a bulge class put in somewhere nearby.

Weston Park had a bulge class several years running, but due to a downturn in demand there was no bulge class needed last year. But whether Weston Park would have the physical capacity for one this year I do not know, as Weston Park your first preference, ask, forcefully.

Movement on waiting lists does take place, but often slowly.

Thats all I can think of, for the moment.

nlondondad Tue 28-Apr-15 22:49:25

@DrMouse

I think you have just explained where the problem comes from.

As I have just written in my last post Weston Park had an extra class several years running. It did not have one last year. Its siblings from the earlier years thats caused the problem. All the more argument for pressing for a bulge class at Weston IF the capacity is there.

DrMouse Wed 29-Apr-15 07:33:36

Yes - I believe Weston park is full and won't be taking a bulge class this year. Someone told me there is a legal limit of 2 bulge classes per school but I don't know if that's true...

Creating bulge classes solves a short term problem but it creates problems further down the line with siblings.

Think the system would be fairer if the sibling rule applied but only within a certain distance to the school. Then local people like the OP at least stand a chance of getting a place.

christinarossetti Wed 29-Apr-15 09:05:21

I live in Haringey and although I have absolutely no time for Haringey council, I honestly can't see that it's the council's fault that there's a shortage of places in Crouch End.

I live towards the east of the borough - Turnpike Lane way. My children are both at school now, but if I had applied this year, I would have had a choice of 3 or 4 decent, local schools.

The reason for the disparity between our experience is that people don't move into the area that I live for schools, as they do in CE and MH. You see it all the time on MN for example - people ask where they should move in North London for 'good schools' and are advised MH and CE.

There are disproportionate numbers of reception aged children (and their siblings!) in CE area for this reason. In recent years, Coleridge has been doubled in size, there have been bulge classes at Weston Park and others, increased intake at St Mary's. Yet still demand outstrips supply.

If you're in one of these types of areas, then you need to be pragmatic and strategic. Putting St Mary's down as one of your preferences, for example would have increased your chances of getting a place in a local school. (If your 'closest' schools include both St A's and Campsbourne, then St Mary's must be closer than at least one of them.) A C of E school may not be your preference, but it may be preferable to travelling a fair way or home schooling.

In addition to nelondondad's advice, I would suggest accepting the place that you've been offered (unless you're 100% certain that you would be prepared to home school until a place more locally came up). Also, to visit the school that you've been offered and indeed any schools within a reasonable distance that have places or that you would consider.

If the worst comes to the worst, Crouch End to Wood Green isn't an horrendous commute and there are some good schools there, although I appreciate that you would greatly prefer a place at a local school. Also, that it's very stressful not knowing where your 4 year old will be going in September.

It's very, very likely that the Council will set up bulge classes in one of your local schools, although they need to wait until offers are accepted/not accepted and the waiting lists shake down before they can do this.

christinarossetti Wed 29-Apr-15 09:07:46

Also, it's not possible for children in Haringey to have 'not been offered at place' since last year. As you say, there is a surplus of places in the east of the borough. These families will have been offered a place somewhere though presumably not to their liking.

I think what you mean is that they haven't been offered a place at a school they want, which unfortunately is the inevitable result of so many young families crowding into one residential area.

latenightmum Wed 29-Apr-15 09:32:11

The people living in these roads may be keen to join the campaign:
www.hamhighbroadway.co.uk/news/education/revealed_crouch_end_s_primary_school_catchment_area_black_hole_1_3756210

cgehansen Fri 01-May-15 16:55:55

It looks as though Wandsworth are looking at distance and the sibling rule www.wandsworth.gov.uk/news/article/12540/consultation_starts_on_proposals_to_change_sibling_priority_rule. The issue is there aren't enough places a local community schools in Crouch End and this has been a problem for years now. I can understand people not getting their school of choice if it's a fair distance away but all of us affected have put our nearest community schools on our application which are less than a mile away and not been offered any of them. St Mary's is a good school but it does expect children to "take part in the Christian worship of the school and attend religious education lessons" so isn't for everyone (even if it had spare places which we've been told it doesn't).

Soverytired4 Fri 01-May-15 17:16:56

But St Aidan's is C of E too, isn't it? Anyway, if you're on the waiting lists for all these school I'm sure something will come up for September. Good Luck!

cgehansen Fri 01-May-15 17:39:08

Thanks! St Aidens is voluntary controlled and st Mary's is voluntary aided. Apparently there's a difference! I've nothing against church schools but there should be more flexibility about whether your children take part in the religious aspects particularly where the school is being expanded to tackle a local shortage of places.

nlondondad Sat 02-May-15 10:59:03

It may well be that a modification of the sibling rule for Haringey primary Schools would help.

The sort of modification I have seen discussed for Camden, and I believe may already exist in some Boroughs is that siblings only get preference if at the time they apply they are, if not living at the original address, living not further than a certain distance from the school.

The idea behind this is to prevent to situation, which we know occurred in Eleanor Palmer school, Camden last year, where some parents rent very close to the school for their first child, get them in, and are then free to move away, as far as they like, subject to obvious practical considerations, knowing they will get sibling preference for subsequent children.

Is that something parents in Crouch End could get behind and lobby the council about?

meditrina Sat 02-May-15 11:06:32

There are schools using a "living at same address" criterion for siblings? That's a new one; anyone any experience of how that's worked in practice?

Using a catchment to prioritise local siblings/others ahead of more distance siblings/others is increasing in London. But LEAs can introduce them only to their own schools, not VA ones nor any academy. So the London patchwork and black holes will continue.

Basically, what is needed is more schools. Even if not in the perfect location (which really isn't going to happen, given the pressures on land use), London's transport links mean that even a school in an 'awkward' site is going to be reachable, and pull in pupils, easing the pressure for quite a wide radius.

nlondondad Sat 02-May-15 11:20:45

@meditrina

Not so much "living at same address" more having moved "too far away" that is beyond some defined boundary, so in fact the same effect could be obtained using catchment areas. (ie siblings only get preference, if at the time of application they live within catchment, otherwise it just goes on distance)

It was certainly being discussed for Camden, but whether it was introduced, or if introduced took effect this year, I do not know.

If it was introduced, in some form, this year, then there would be a little experience...

The rest of your post is a powerful argument for defragmenting the state education system, at least as far as admissions go.

GreenEggsAndNaiceHam Sat 02-May-15 12:02:56

I think that would be a great rule for Camden, but didn't know it had been discussed. By the council?

I did suggest a "no sibling" rule to Camden School For Girls governors, but was too late for the 2016 admission rounds. They say they will discuss for the next lot of admissions; while I am not holding my breath I think it's a positive that they will at least discuss.

Eleanor Palmer is in the news again this year as Giles Coren's daughter did not get in. Did you see his piece in Time Out? I don't know if the end of sibling rule would have helped them, they live close, but about the same distance as we do for the school and we were told we wouldn't have been given a place for the last ten years!

Anyway, back to the OP. Although there may be a shortage of places in CE, it seems there isn't anshortage in Haringey, Haringey have fulfilled their statutory duty to provide a school. I would personally go on the waiting list of all schools you would like, even those you wouldn't apply to inthe first place. If it helps I know plenty of children at religious schools who don't come from a religious background, or that of a different religion. They take part in the worship, may really get into it, but get their own thoughts in the end-well maybe parental power wins through.

Now, not meaning to upset northlondondad, but would the Free school at Whitehall Park be an option for you? If so it might be worth going on their waiting list too. Who knows what will happen there, it might be portacabins for years, it might.... Well who knows what it might. It's a risk I guesss, but only a parent can weigh up that risk.

If you are near Cambsbourne, could you get to the school on the other side of the park, the one near the big secondary school at AllY Pally station, walk through the park?

Sorry, it's rubbish I know. All the good things that come with loads of young children in a built up area have the school places as the downside. However the sort of area CE is, you may find that you bump up the waiting lists pretty fast as people don't want anything except Coleridge etc, so go private.

I'm not looking to going through it all again for secondary, although hopefully some people will have moved to leafy areas, and some will be saving their pennies for private secondaries.

meditrina Sat 02-May-15 12:08:16

Catchments are a common arrangement, and quite different from a 'living at the same address' criterion. There's an abundance of experience of how catchments work.

And what I said is not an argument either in favour or against a unified system. The population densities in London simply do not permit a Scottish-type system of guaranteeing catchment school. And without that, there is no particular advantage.

nlondondad Sat 02-May-15 18:04:31

@green

Thanks for the heads up on the Coren article, and the background that the school in question is Eleanor Palmer

I found the article here:

now-here-this.timeout.com/2015/04/28/giles-coren-im-not-going-to-send-my-kids-to-school/

@meditrina

I dont want to get hung up on terminlogy, but what I have seen is admission criteria for a school outside london which went like this

1. Looked after children

2. Children with statements naming the school

3. Siblings in a defined catchment area (tie breaker: Distance)

4. Others in the defined catchment area (tie breaker: Distance

THEN

5. children outside catchment, tie breaker: Distance, and no sibling preference.

This effectively prevented people from getting the first child in, and then retaining sibling preference if they moved, if they moved out of the (quite compact) catchment.

The catchment was not circular either, but was a particular local district. No doubt an historical thing.

The issue with Coleridge is there is some evidence, based on the size of the admission radius and the heavy use of cars on the school run, to suggest that there is a significant fraction of parents who get their first child in, and then move to the vicinity of a sought after secondary school. if sibling preference no longer applied for parents who moved to live more than, say, two thirds of a mile from the school that could have quite an impact. But Haringey parents would have to ask for it.

Having said all that, there is a case for just abolishing sibling preference.

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