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South London Secondary schools - Yr 8 admissions

(20 Posts)
fedupdomesticgoddess Tue 20-Sep-11 13:31:30

I would be interested to hear from anyone with experience of finding a place for their child in Yr 8. We have had what I can only describe as a monstrously stressful time which started in March this year when my DS was not offered a place at any of the 6 schools to which we had applied. We didn't list anything off-piste - just the normal schools which kids from his state primary go to. Unfortunately we live outside the catchment of some and didn't win the lottery system for the others. My child is bright, funny and would fit in anywhere except the school we were eventually offered under the terms of the LEA's Statutory duty to provide a school place. We knew he would not thrive there as did his primary head. Although we were tantalisingly near the top of a number of waiting lists nothing came up and and in desperation we felt that we had no choice but to send him to a selective private school. We have always felt that private education, for us, was neither desirable, necessary nor affordable. Our child understands the situation and knows that this option in short term solution but mother I am crying inside at the thought of hooking him out when he has, predictably, settled in so well. However we are a now facing another year of school hunting in the hope of moving him in September at the start of year 8 but I have no idea how problematic this is likely to be. I would love to hear from anyone with advice or experience of this. We are based in S London and originally applied to the usuals - Kingsdale, Charter, Graveney, Elm Green etc

twoterrors Tue 20-Sep-11 15:43:38

I am sorry you have found yourself in this situation. I live in South London and know several children who have moved school outside the normal round - often to schools (including ones on your list) where they did not get in in the normal year 6 round because of the numbers but walked in in year 7 or 8 as a place came up (not always at the end of a school year or even term - you may have to face losing the term's fees to snap up a place if it becomes free I think). So don't despair on that front and it is probably worth finding out now what the waiting list system is - it changes part way through year 7 I think though that may be out of date - and how it is administered. And if he has settled in happily and quickly once, that positive experience may help him feel confident about the move too. Good luck.

gingeroots Tue 20-Sep-11 20:37:14

Have you tried Pimlico Academy - good transport links from SE London ,so travelling not as tricky as you might think .

Theas18 Wed 21-Sep-11 10:04:44

I dunno OP, if it was me I'd be bending over backwards to find the money to keep him where he has settled, unless there was a really good alternative school, rather than squeezing him into a place late on in, what is likely to be a system where her is going to, how shall I put it, have to establish himself in a "pecking order" etc having been in the generally civilised environment of a fee paying school.

Is that an unfair comment on most London comps?

psammyad Thu 22-Sep-11 10:59:56

Well, new children seemed to turn up at Kingsdale at various points through Y7 and settle very quickly - whether that's because the introductions are well-managed or just that the other kids are generally a decent bunch, I have no idea - but wouldn't complain about either. I can't see why it would be much different at the other schools mentioned in the OP, and there seems to be a certain amount of movement between state & private (in both directions, and for various reasons) in the area as well. Most London state schools, including plenty of the less sought-after ones are pretty civilised places these days smile, whatever they may or may not have been in the past.

But I'd echo twoterrors that the OP would probably have to be prepared to stay on the waiting list & take up a place as soon as it turned up, I don't think it's as simple as just re-applying for Y8 (but am no expert on this).

There is something called "in year fair access protocol" that may be worth finding out about, though it may not apply in your case.

fedupdomesticgoddess Thu 22-Sep-11 15:19:59

Thank you all for this advice. In fact Pimlico was one of our choices but we were too far away and at the moment it is a popular choice so no luck there. As our DS was at a very mixed primary school I've no fears about him settling into a school like Kingsdale, especially since he knows so many kids there already. The world-weary side of me agrees with Theas18 - not so much because I think the local state schools aren't good but because I feel we have been let down by the state. DS is a regular, bright, low maintenance kid who was accepted by his current school on the basis of an entrance exam (for which he was not tutored or even prepared!) However for apparently random reasons he was rejected by the local schools. If we could find the funds to keep him where he is, we probably would. However with two other kids hot on his heels, I think my bank manager may see things a little differently! We are well aware that we may need to sacrifice a terms fees but at the moment that seems a small price to pay to escape from the stress and uncertainty of the last year. At the same time it would be too cruel to take him a out of his current place for anything less than a place where we have a reasonable degree of certainty that he would be happy.

valerian Thu 22-Sep-11 15:25:59

Have you asked his current schools if they can do anything about waiving/reducing the fees, or offering him a bursary?

Alternatively, what about the grammar schools in Sutton?

admission Thu 22-Sep-11 18:37:32

The local authority met their statutory duty by offering a place in year 7, though it was in a school that you felt inappropriate.
You can apply for any secondary school you want as a in-year application and I would suggest that you apply for all the schools that you applied for 12 months ago. The expectation would be that all are full and the LA will therefore say no to your application. However you can then appeal for all the schools and you may well find a panel that will admit based on the need to return to the state sector due to financial hardship.
You should also ask to go on the waiting list for all appropriate schools so that if any school suddenly gets a space and you are top of the waiting list you will be offered the place.
The in-year fair access protocol mentioned by psammyad is not pertinent in your situation as this is only applied to pupils moving into the area and permanently excluded children.

Blu Thu 22-Sep-11 19:25:33

What a horrible situation to be in sad
Really sorry.
Do as Admission suggests and out yourself on the waiting list for every school you would be really HAPPY for him to attend. Amongst those you list in your OP are several where I know parents who are very re-assuring that there is no danger of the stuff that Thea hints at, and they are very civilised.
DS will hopefully be going to one of them, anyway!
Generally, what area are you in to have been left in such a horrible situation?

fedupdomesticgoddess Fri 23-Sep-11 08:25:56

We are in Southwark and the kids are at a lovely primary school but as far as secondary schools are concerned we are in a bit of a black hole, not helped by the fact that the schools all have different admissions criteria. Admission's advice seems sound. We really liked all the secondary schools we visited and would have been happy with any of our six. All the kids we met on the tours seemed great and we know that our kid would have been fine at any of them. However what we were offered was different. There was an overriding air of disinterest and despondency and the first two classrooms we saw were teaching hair and beauty and car maintenance. Since DS is a stranger to the comb at the best of times, we felt that he would be a fish out of water and that his natural curiousity and enthusiasm would be quickly squashed.

spysareus Fri 23-Sep-11 08:52:16

What about Dunraven? There seems to be a fair amount of movement there, and it is a school with a good reputation, good results and lovely kids.

I think it is a horrid situation for you all to be in.

Blu Fri 23-Sep-11 10:05:16

Ther is a fair bit of mobility in our ElmGreen / Dunraven part of London, so I think if you put yourselves on the waiting list you would get a place at some stage. If you have younger DC, what about ensuring you keep your list of preferred schools to be on the waiting list for to schools with a sibling admission policy?

You can go on as many waiting lists as you like, I think.

I hope it works out for you quickly.

mushroom3 Fri 23-Sep-11 14:16:01

Did you apply to your closest secondary, as besides Kingsdale and Bacon's, I think all other non-church Southwark schools allocate places on distance. The schools you mention besides Kingsdale all operate on distance, so you probably need to apply to schools closer to where you live (difficult if you live on Kingsdale's doorstep).

London Nautical in Waterloo may be one to try as that doesn't go on distance.

twoterrors Fri 23-Sep-11 14:49:22

I don't think the distance thing applies now - apart from the possible implications of living further away than most other children. If it is true you can go on as many waiting lists as you like, you have absolutely nothing to lose by applying to everywhere you like the look of (perhaps without telling your son until the situation is clearer), even if you ruled them out initially when you were restricted to six because you knew the odds were against you.

I think people are often reluctant to move their children if they are happily settled even if a place comes up at a school they previously thought greatly desirable. I know children who have moved to Kingsdale, Graveney and Dunraven. And I agree about mobility. Really, I am not sure you can predict what will happen, so I would just get your name down everywhere and see what happens initially.

I love the idea of a fish out of water who is a stranger to the comb!

Very very good luck. I can completely understand how you have ended up in this position in this part of South London.

LocalSchoolMum Sat 24-Sep-11 12:46:37

Hi Fedup, have you considered Lambeth Academy by Clapham Common - it's a very mixed and inclusive school, probably most similar to Chestnut Grove or Pimlico in intake, but due to poor results in its first 2 years of GCE, not so popular locally so you might have a better chance of getting in from further away. This year they got 59% A-C including Maths and English (up from 35%) - pretty fantastic for a school that is so inclusive (i.e. is welcoming to kids with special needs as well as the brainy ones). Their 6th form also had excellent results this year.
Clapham Common has pretty good transport links and kids seem to come from all over the place. They have an excellent website, if you're interested:
http://www.lambeth-academy.org/ and there are open days coming up soon.

sincitylover Sat 24-Sep-11 23:50:48

are you north or south of the borough? Guessing you are south.

Not much better in the north tbh.

Sorry you are in this position.

Might be in it myself next year although without the abilty to send to private school.

Had the Southwark parent liaison officer visit our primary school last Monday and was a truly depressing meeting.

Basically what he was saying that six choices to oversubscribed schools were wasted choices and to put down more realistic preferences and oh not to run down any schools to your children as they might be going there!!

Good luck op

fedupdomesticgoddess Sun 25-Sep-11 19:16:15

We are south of the borough and applied to Kingsdale (lottery) charter (600m too far) graveney (did ok in test but too far and not well enough) askes (too far away and not one of music aptitude scholars, although grade 3 clarinet) Elm Green and Pimlico (in both cases we were around 140 on the waiting lists after offers). Our very worse case scenario was our closest school which is what we were offered and which, I believe still has vacant places even though the intake this year was reduced. The LEA could also have offered a catholic boys school. I went to look at COLA last week and this week I'm going to Chesnut Grove and also have got Dunraven to visit. I really hope none of you have to go through this. It is a monstrously stressful situation. We've put DS in a private school in the first instance, but only when we realised that a year of a fees is cheaper than moving house!

fedupdomesticgoddess Sun 25-Sep-11 19:27:51

Incidentally, Sincitylover or anyone else, I would go and look at Cola - city of london academy. It has got a fantastic site and really lovely staff and a very ambitious head teacher. Also a friend of mine who was in a similar situation has ended up at Deptford Green. It's about to move to a new, state of the art site, and is definitely one to watch. Either would be preferable to what we were offered. These two are definitely on my radar and I don't suppose it will be too long before they are oversubscribed. If you are putting down 3 or 4 oversubscribed schools on a 'do I feel lucky?' gamble, I guess the choice will be clear to you but it's the other 2 or 3 choices which you really need to research and decide which ones are acceptable as there is a good chance you may end up at one of them. Ah... The wisdom of hindsight...

sincitylover Sun 25-Sep-11 19:37:35

we looked at FHB on Friday and were very impressed however again it's a catchment area.

Yes COLA is on my list. Quite close to that one but it's catchment.

Not keen on DG, WA or GA. Mostly because of the areas they are in rather than the schools themselves!!!

Blu Sun 25-Sep-11 19:37:55

ABT -Archbishop Tennison at the Oval seems v good too - CoE but with 'open' places -if you would consider a single sex school?

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