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So if DC's school is suddenly taking in two reception classes not one in September, what should I be asking?

(26 Posts)
fridayschild Fri 26-Jun-09 13:49:20

The school has had a two form intake foisted on them by the council in September. It's not clear yet whether this is an isolated "bulge" class or the start of a much much larger school. DS2 will be part of the new large intake, and DS1 is at the school already.

Physically the school could probably cope with one extra class - there is a new building just opening - but they couldn't go to two form entry permanently without yet more building work.

The governors say it will help them with the Council if parents write letters. I am going to write to the Council as well. Possibly also the MP and the Tory candidate. And anyone else I can think of!

Any tips for questions, pit falls?

piscesmoon Fri 26-Jun-09 16:42:37

Why does it matter if they have 2 classes instead of one? I can see the complaint if they had one huge class, but since they will have a teacher each and a room it won't make a difference. If they keep doing it they will have to build again. Larger schools have a lot of advantages.

Fimbo Fri 26-Jun-09 16:44:37

All the classes in my ds's school have 2. When my dd was there she was the only year to have 3 and has continued like that through Junior school.

Don't see the problem myself

Reallytired Fri 26-Jun-09 16:48:43

kids need somewhere to go to school and two form primaries often offer more opportunties for clubs, setting and more money for better facilites.

piscesmoon Fri 26-Jun-09 16:57:36

If it gradually becomes 2 form entry a lot of money will have to be spent-I would see it as positive.It must have a good reputation to be over subscribed.

fridayschild Fri 26-Jun-09 17:23:08

Well, it means the place will be a building site for a few more years. I'd rather not have portacabins in the playground while we wait for the funding for more building. I don't want the school to be told to sell the playing fields to pay for a new building. We might lose our community feel if lots of kids come from a long way away. The school is geographically isolated within the borough, so some of the 60 might stay on waiting lists for schools nearer their home and move half way through - if this happens a lot we might end up with 45 kids in a year which isn't enough for 2 teachers but is clearly too many for one.

Being over-subscribed where we are is not a great distinguishing sign of popularity. Every school is over-subscribed!

I'm not particularly worried by 2 classes instead of 1, it's the transition that concerns me most. Although it was nice that when DS1 started, all the staff knew his name before half term and the name of his little brother too... bet you don't get that in the bigger schools!

Reallytired Fri 26-Jun-09 19:01:02

fridayschild,
You are obviously a born worrier. Frankly you are getting in a tiss about nothing.

My guess is that council will use building schools for the future funding.

Its also illegal for schools to sell off playing fields.

piscesmoon Fri 26-Jun-09 19:06:39

All the staff know the children's names in larger schools! I think that you are worrying unnecessarily.

EldonAve Fri 26-Jun-09 19:11:34

what are the governors suggesting you write letters about?
the birth rate is increasing so it'll probably go to two form throughout the school

muppetgirl Fri 26-Jun-09 19:16:34

If the new intake is from this Sept, the children will already be coming what would writing a letter achieve? Yes, get it off our chest if you need too but what do you think will change?

Surely letter writing should have been done during some sort of consultation/planning stage?

PerfectPrefect Fri 26-Jun-09 19:17:55

I think there are advantages to a 2 form intake.

Mixing and matching between classes at teh end of the year encourages them to make new friends and develop social skills being one of the obvious ones.

I really don't see what there is to object about in the long term - at least on a general basis. I guess the biggest questions relate to whether there is enough space to actualy develop the school.

We have just had 2 new classrooms built - and it was fine. Building was kept away from teh children and was complete before they needed the rooms - so no portacabins.

However, we are moving from a 2 form to 3 form intake from September and they will be housed in portacabins. i don't really see the probablem with them personally - some temporary buildings don't even feel like portacabins these days.

GrapefruitMoon Fri 26-Jun-09 19:24:23

Depends on whether this is seen as a one-off or they plan to increase the size of the school to two-form entry (in a planned way ) so eventually there will be two forms in each year.
Around here they got several schools to have a second reception class two years ago. Supposed to be a one-off to deal with the large number of children seeking places that year.

Seemingly no-one at the council considered that these children would in all likelihood have younger siblings coming along in 2 years or so. So now all these schools are even more over-subscribed for the coming year - one had only one place left after siblings were given places. So families living literally next door couldn't get in.

Clary Sat 27-Jun-09 00:39:21

Two-form intake is the favoured model in our LEA.

FWIW.

bumsrush Sat 27-Jun-09 00:50:10

Our local school as various sized classes throughout the years, it changes all the time. I would rather 2 smaller classes then one huge one.

bumsrush Sat 27-Jun-09 00:51:30

I went to a 4 class per year primary and it was great far more facilities than smaller schools, had portacabins for 50% of the classes, but they were fine.

hocuspontas Sat 27-Jun-09 09:55:44

If it is a bulge year then I would make sure that they don't get stuck in the portacabin/side room every year. This happened to a school near us until parents complained and the extra room was rotated through other years. Doesn't a school have to jump through lots of hoops to have a permanent increase in intake? You would have heard through official channels by now I would think. And agree about tons of building work!

sweetfall Sat 27-Jun-09 09:59:13

you have playing fields? envy

you have a form one entry AND playing fields? envy envy

I am sure that you will be building on the playing fields so ask how much outdoor space you will retain when building is complete

fridayschild Sat 27-Jun-09 10:06:40

I agree there SHOULD be consultation and planning, but there hasn't been. That's the concern. I've even trawled through the minutes of the relevant meetings on the council website, and it's not as if we've missed something. The council has a track record of failing to get funding when it should be available, and suggested to the school it sell the playing fields for the new building.

And sorry if my point about one form entry wasn't clear. I'm sure staff know the names of children at the school. It's when staff know the names of younger siblings who are too young to even be at the nursery that you see the advantages of a small school.

Maybe I am a born worrier. But I'd be surprised if things like this didn't make most parents worry.

sweetfall Sat 27-Jun-09 10:09:58

a 2-form entry is still a small school - it'll give you about 3-400 students and staff will know the names of younger siblings - also you get a greater about number of teachers and more opportunity for those with special interests so more opportunities in art, music, drama, IT etc

I think it'll all be positive

Parents don't really get a say in expansion / construction although you will be consulted at final architect stage no doubt. If you want that kind of say in how your school is run you'll have to run for governor

LadyMuck Sat 27-Jun-09 17:12:25

Ds1 is in a bulge year. Some of the things that I have a gripe about:-

whilst they had enough classrooms and had another class teacher, they haven't thought about extra-curricular opportunities. So you have twice as many children trying to get into the choir, football team etc, and obviously many children unable to get into anything. They don't have the staff or facilities to run to say a second team, and they didn't put on extra places for afterschool activities so these have been very over subscribed. I'm hoping these are teething pains, but I have my doubts.

The management team hasn't grown, so everyone is that little bit further stretched.

Library resources and musical instruments haven't increased with the number of children.

I appreciate that a potential building site is fairly unpleasant, but at least it might mean that they are trying to sort out resourcing permanently. Bulge classes have the problem that as they are temporary they are harder to resource - eg in terms of library books you need a wider selection initially for reception and then year 1 etc, but no-one is really going to want to double the library books. Ds1 had to wait almost a term to borrow the book he wanted.

FabBakerGirlIsBack Sat 27-Jun-09 17:13:39

At the school my children go to there are 3 classes per year group.

LadyMuck Sat 27-Jun-09 17:15:58

Ds1's school has 3 classes, but unfortunately they're still not equipped to deal with 50% extra children in a year group suddenly.

FabBakerGirlIsBack Sat 27-Jun-09 17:16:05

and all the teachers have known DS2's name from 4 years ago when DS1 started.

I also think you are going about this all wrong and it sounds like you want your child to be a big fish in a small pond.

Our primary has over 500 pupils, 3 play grounds, a massive field and every teacher knows every child.

fridayschild Mon 29-Jun-09 14:51:05

Lady Muck - thanks, very helpful post.

GuessWhatIAmANameChanger Mon 29-Jun-09 14:56:05

Fridayschild, fwiw, our school is two form all the way through, always has been. It has a lovely community feel and all the teachers know all the children, family menmbers, pets and so on. I understand your concerns about building work but I think you are being over the top in your other concerns. Could you go and look around a school that has been through similar to you to get some proper ideas and information?

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