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Crouch End Haringey primary school shortage and admissions review by council

(99 Posts)
JKemp Fri 27-Nov-15 20:33:30

Apologies for the dull, geeky subject but it's pretty critical to us as a local family.

Particularly interested in the views of those living in Crouch End with personal experience of the primary school admission system. I'm local with a young child and am amazed that a problem this serious has persisted for so long.

The 2015 admissions data has just been released and for several schools the majority of places have gone to siblings (a number of whom don't live in the area), with last child offered distances shrinking again, particularly for Weston Park and Coleridge.

I would appreciate constructive ideas about how to fix the system. Particularly to feed into the council consultation, which closes in a few weeks: www.haringey.gov.uk/children-and-families/schools-and-education/school-admissions/admission-arrangements/consultation-school-admission-arrangements-201617.

The proposal by the council wouldn't appear to make any impact until about 2020, which is way too long and totally ignores the plight of the local community in the interim, who pay local council tax and require school places this and next year.

Transitional arrangements need to be developed as a priority.

Gaming the system has been long reported (some links below) - by official data most of the children should live within c5mins walking distance of most schools, which begs the question why do so many travel in by bus and car?

Local short term lettings of 'buy the right address temporarily before moving out again' is a buoyant business, which has been tackled in several areas but not sufficiently in Crouch End/ Haringey Council area. Perhaps more rigorous enforcement could be an answer? I think that in Hackney, a short term let address doesn't count if you still own your main home.

In any case, the official council line is that they would like to support vibrant local communities, which is great. Hopefully the solution to be adopted early next year will also deal with the immediate challenge as opposed to a partial fix over the medium term.

Links:
www.standard.co.uk/lifestyle/london-life/revealed-the-legal-loophole-letting-pushy-parents-rent-the-best-state-school-places-8878941.html

www.hamhigh.co.uk/news/education/haringey_crack_down_on_families_who_move_home_after_secure_school_place_1_4262636

www.theguardian.com/education/2014/apr/11/primary-school-places-offer-day

www.mumsnet.com/Talk/primary/2365792-Primary-school-place-shortage-in-Crouch-End-September-2015?trending=1

tethersend Fri 27-Nov-15 22:26:19

Have a look at Tower Hamlets' admission arrangements.

A few years ago, they introduced catchment areas and place in-catchment children above non-catchment siblings in the over subscription criteria.

If applied correctly (whether or not TH are applying this correctly or not is a WHOLE other thread), this means that parents can't get one child in and then move far away, safe in the knowledge that any subsequent children are very likely to secure a place via the sibling rule.

It has actually worked quite well, although can be frustrating for those on the edge of a catchment boundary.

tethersend Fri 27-Nov-15 22:28:16

Tower Hamlets admission arrangements

whiteagle Fri 27-Nov-15 22:40:43

In Scotland each school has a catchment and if you live in catchment you get a place at the school . You can only get an out of catchment place if there are spaces after the catchment kids have got their place. Sibilings only get priority at this out of catchment stage, catchment kids are allocated first, so like TH don't get priority over the local catchment kids. It works well.

It seems crazy to allocate places at a local school based on sibling as priority one. People could have moved miles away and someone living near the school denied a place at their local school in their community with their friends that live nearby- but i guess that is the current reality. Bonkers and totally unfair. I can see why you are angry.

TheTroubleWithAngels Fri 27-Nov-15 23:01:26

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

cgehansen Sat 28-Nov-15 19:30:28

The simplest way to increase places from 2017 would be to make the limit on sibling priority retrospective. So if you already have a child in school you won't benefit from sibling priority if live further than 500 metres from the school. Although it would make sense for there to be some exemptions for families in temporary accommodation or who haven't moved since their first child was admitted. Haringey are consulting on making the changes retrospective. I would also like to see the limit on sibling priority extended to secondary as well.

NorthLondonMama Sun 29-Nov-15 00:09:23

I had the impression that it was going to be effective as from 2017 - ie no sibling priority applied unless the family lives within 0.5 km (or is it miles?) or the family has not moved since the last child (in the family) was accepted.

Of course there will be upset families who had banked on a place for a sibling based on priority in year 2017 or later. But there are many that would be happy as well. At the moment it is silly to see how many children that arrive by car to school, only to have other children - who could easily have walked to that school, but that now have to - be driven to another school due to tactics/sibling priority.

I expect that families who have a valid reason for a move and remain in the school, will be considered and accepted. But it shouldn't be a norm.

Paperm0ver Sun 29-Nov-15 10:24:20

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

nlondondad Tue 01-Dec-15 11:53:36

I have found that it is easy in these discussions to get several different issues confused. The very specific problem being focused in on by Haringey's review is not about a shortage of places as such. Its about some schools effectively experiencing an enhanced level of demand, which is reflected in a very small admission radius, due to, it would appear a growing trend for a minority of parents to acquire an address really close to the school from which they apply for their first child. Subsequently, having got their first child in, they then, for whatever reason move away, but continue to stick with the original school, getting their sibsequent child, or children, in using sibling preference.

The symptoms of this happening are an unusually large proportion of children being admitted as siblings, and a significant number of those admitted on sibling preference living a distance away.

So what we have seen in Crouch End is a school with a very small admissions radius, to which large numbers of children, enough to cause traffic problems, are delivered by car, as they are siblings now living too far away to walk..

Crouchendmumoftwo Tue 01-Dec-15 19:54:31

Weston Park school is a one form entry school, for the last two years they have had two bulge classes added. This has meant that the reception class this year only had only a couple of places to offer. It's really unusual but meant that families living across the road from the school could not get in. There are parents from Bounds Green, Turnpike Lane, Wood Green and Tottenham in the bulge classes but it's meant that local families cannot not get a place.

NorthLondonMama Tue 01-Dec-15 20:48:14

@Crouchendmumoftwo I assume though that in these cases, the suggested changes won't affect these families. I can understand why you would want your DCs to go to the same school and if you haven't moved, I can't see why you should be punished for being in a bulge class and being accepted living further away than normally.

There are other schools where families have moved to areas like Bounds Green, East Finchley etc, ie nowhere near the school, as soon as the oldest DC gets in. That requires transport to school in one way or the other. At the same time, other children a few blocks away (from that school) are being sent to another school which in turn requires transport. Madness, of you ask me. Not to forget that the whole 'community' aspect etc is lost.

JKemp Tue 01-Dec-15 21:18:53

I encourage everyone interested in this to post a formal response to the consultation (link at top of thread) - weight of numbers is important here, we don't need to agree on the content! A healthy debate is important.

It is clear that the major concern expressed in the consultation is not to free up places in the short term, so ensuring local community access (council policy), but rather to align Haringey with other London councils by c2020 and not upset any parents with children at local schools. Freeing up places immediately is sacrificed. It is an exercise in bureaucratic convenience.

In my view, the council should move quickly to implement the proposal (0.5 mile for siblings) and not start phasing in the process in 2017, which is too late. They can adopt intermediate measures if they feel the need to (i.e. start with 0.75 miles in year one but implement for all with no grandfathered rights). In any case, I would definitely support exemption for families with children with SEN and in temporary shelter.

The idea that children living way out of area receive a privilege because that was the policy for children entering schools in previous years doesn't stack up. It shows a disregard for those children disadvantaged and unable to access to the schools in the first place - the supposed beneficiaries.

Every child is equal and every family requires fair treatment.

Very annoyed by the proposed approach.

I welcome your views.

cgehansen Wed 02-Dec-15 10:32:58

I wonder how representative the response to this consultation will be. The council is supposed to consult with everyone in the Borough who is a parent of children between the ages of two and eighteen. They are leafleting schools but there doesn't appear to be any attempt to make parents of pre-school children aware of the consultation and it's that group who are most likely to benefit. So I'm guessing what responses they have will be biased in favour of the status quo.

Paperm0ver Wed 02-Dec-15 12:26:18

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

cgehansen Wed 02-Dec-15 14:33:15

The real problem with allocating places on distance is that circles don't join up. So unless there are a surplus of places some people will get their local school, some will have a choice of school, and others will fall into the gaps in between the distance circles and get allocated a school in another part of the borough. Catchment areas would would at least ensure everyone gets priority for one local school. The council already has 'planning areas' for school admissions that could be used as a basis for catchments.

nlondondad Wed 02-Dec-15 22:41:19

@cgehansen

I have been putting some thought into the sort of things you identify and I am sure that one overlooked possibility is that the points from which admissions are measured do not actually have to be on school premises. It is even technically possible to use more than one point.

Suppose for example the Clock Tower in Crouch End was to be used as a reference point and all the places offered by Weston Park, Rokesely and Coleridge were to be pooled, with applicants being offered a place on distance from the Clock Tower for the group of three schools. Then after that offered a place at whichever of the three schools they qualified for and which they placed highest on their preference. That would mean that if you lived too far away from your nearest of the three schools to get a place at least you would get a place at one of the other two.

Would that sort of thing be an improvement or do you think its mad?

Paperm0ver Wed 02-Dec-15 22:55:01

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

nlondondad Wed 02-Dec-15 23:01:00

There are two things here:-

1. The current consultation which as papermover rightly says only offers a limited range of options

AND

2. A discussion of possibilities for the future which might be put to councils in future, and I was just trying to open up debate and fly a kite.

The Clock Tower as a studio flat! Of course!

Paperm0ver Thu 03-Dec-15 16:54:48

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

cgehansen Fri 04-Dec-15 16:35:57

nlondondad I think it would be simpler if schools were pooled in catchment areas similar to Tower Hamlets so people in catchment would have priority for a couple of schools. I'm guessing what Haringey are hoping is by limiting sibling priority the admissions circles will overlap but it still leaves us with an unfair haphazard system for school applications.

nlondondad Wed 09-Dec-15 14:59:41

Did anyone go to either of the two drop in seesions organised as part of the consultation?

meditrina Wed 09-Dec-15 15:17:58

"and not start phasing in the process in 2017, which is too late"

The snag with that is that the 2016 admissions round is already underway, and you cannot legally change admissions criteria at this point.

All changes to criteria must be carried out in line with the Admissions Code, which stipulates consultation before change, and announcement of final version no later than the April before the start of the next round.

It would require a change in the law to do anything else, and that would take longer.

So Sept 2017 admission is the very earliest such a change could be introduced under the current law. If the LEA ignored the law, then parents denied places as a consequence of illegal administration would all win appeals. Result: chaos.

thenineties Wed 09-Dec-15 16:35:36

I think the "phasing in" comment above is more trying to stress the point that under the proposed format introducing the sibling priority reform in 2017 will have only a partial rather than full effect of freeing up more distance based admissions.

This is due to the council proposing an exemption of the new rule for children who had an elder sibling admitted prior to Sep 17. They don't want to retrospectively "punish" families who moved away from the school before the rule was introduced. This would mean the rule will only apply to families of first children admitted from Sep 17 onwards. Add 2 to 3 years for them to have a sibling and then you only get the rule having its full impact in 2019/20. Hardly addressing a local need for places now.

In general the rule is a good one and will at the very least put off temporary renters from the outset but if the council are serious about freeing up the 89 Crouch End reception places they sight in their analysis they need to omit this exemption or at the very least provide less stringent rules such as a temporary wider zone for families who moved before the rule was introduced. Families would still have 11 months and 6 days from the rule announcement date to move back in the zone before the 2017 application deadline if they choose to do so.

The council ask this question specifically in the consultation so it should be open for debate.

Thally Wed 09-Dec-15 20:30:55

There should be an exemption for families that were allocated the school not as a first choice to get there sibs in.

For example my child got 3rd choice which was also 3rd in distance to our house (3 preferences allowed) . We haven't moved but are on the edge of the radius of kids attending the school. As our area has become more popular with families our school is now oversubscribed (having been not popular 5 yrs ago). We probably wouldn't get our other child in now were it not for the sibling rule. It would be grossly unfair to be penalised twice.

nlondondad Wed 09-Dec-15 23:09:33

My understanding is that the proposal is sibling preference will only be lost if:-

1. You move address

AND

2. Your address move takes you further away from the school

AND

3. That further away is more than 0.5 miles away from the school.

So someone who gets their first child into a school on distance, and does NOT move will not lose sibling preference and so should the admission radius shrink, that will make no difference.

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