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West London Free School Secondary staff

(37 Posts)
deelite72 Thu 27-Feb-14 18:56:56

The school opened in 2011. My son started in September 2013. The staff turnover is very high. I'm rather astonished at the rate teachers come and go. I imagine they're still trying to establish a very strong team of staff and this takes time. Still, it's unsettling. Should I be more patient with this rather new school and new concept which I initially was very supportive of? Little red flags are waving and I am trying to ignore them. Thoughts? Many thanks.

dippingbackin Thu 27-Feb-14 19:28:01

Hi...I have posted before about WLFS. Going to pm you.

W6PARENT Wed 19-Mar-14 08:34:27

Just a small comment on WLFS. They seem understaffed on the admin side also. Parents who failed to get a place at some other schools in the area who WLFS aspire to match and who had similar numbers of applicants per place (Cardinal Vaughan, Oratory etc.) got letters within 1-2 days of the allocation date explaining where they were placed on the waiting list and the procedure that was being followed. WLFS didn't bother to do this and parents have to phone them directly. Just a small thing but it creates a bad impression.

sinclair Wed 19-Mar-14 15:31:43

How would WLFS know who had applied and not got a place? Isn't is a blind admissions system? AFAIK you don't send any supporting statements/priests' letters to the school directly when you apply for a place (prepared to be corrected, didn't apply to this school)

OP, do you mean you have had staff turnover since Sept? Hirings and firings in the 2 and a half years since it opened would not be unusual - I believe there is a new Head for starters - as long as the net effect is positive ie better teaching now than in 2011 that wouldn't worry me, but if your child's teachers are already changing 6 months in that would ring alarm bells for me.

We are at the other new school locally and there was more obvious churn in the first year (partly as a small staff so you knew them all) but that has settled down as the school has found its feet and staff seems very stable now. Inevitably people move on but mid-year is a shame for the kids I think.

HPparent Wed 19-Mar-14 16:56:22

I think teachers leaving mid year sets alarms ringing. One of my children goes to a well established grammar school and they have very low turnover. On the other hand I have a DD at Holland Park and they have extremely high turnover - unusual to leave mid year though - in my experience they either hate it so much they cannot take another minute or get the push.

My children got letters from all the schools that had rejected them on offer day or the day after. The only school we didn't get a letter from was one offering a place at a Holland Park. I had to ring the LEA to get details of the band and art aptitude place.

RiversideMum Wed 19-Mar-14 20:15:45

Lots of staff turnover is a cause for concern, especially in a new school if people are leaving mid-year.

W6PARENT Thu 20-Mar-14 09:38:46

Just as a reply to the above:

"How would WLFS know who had applied and not got a place? Isn't is a blind admissions system?"

If (say) you put WLFS first choice and got rejected then you automatically go on their waiting list - they know your name and contact details and where you are on that list but not where you ranked them originally. In the past this waiting list was managed centrally by the local authority but free schools and academies can manage their own, in the case of WLFS this involves making every parent phone them directly to ask where they are on the list. Other schools in the borough manage it better.

W6PARENT Thu 20-Mar-14 09:41:25

Oh by the way sinclair, I assume your child is at Hammersmith Academy ? Would be interested to hear you view on that.

nlondondad Thu 20-Mar-14 17:09:15


I am not sure the policy you describe - of making parents phone them - is not the outcome of a planned strategy. This way only the more motivated parents, ie those keen on WLFS, will get in touch with them, because it involves more effort on the part of parents.

W6PARENT Thu 20-Mar-14 17:28:47

No you are wrong because even if you don't phone them they will still offer you a place if you get to the top of the list. The reason they didn't write like the other schools did is it was too much work for them (they told me). Anyway it is a small point.

prh47bridge Thu 20-Mar-14 17:55:18

making every parent phone them directly to ask where they are on the list

That's how it works for most schools in the country. Because you can go down the list as well as up it some schools/LAs don't like telling parents where they are on the list. And if allocations involve a lottery all they can tell you is that you are on the list - no-one knows your position.

prh47bridge Thu 20-Mar-14 17:58:51

Having checked, I see that WLFS uses random allocation as a tie breaker in several categories. That means they can't tell you your position on the list. You don't have one. You are simply on the list.

sinclair Thu 20-Mar-14 18:11:11

we certainly didn't get letters from schools that we didn't get - I think in August maybe from one to ask if we wanted to stay on continued interest list - but then to NLDad's point I had already rung schools after offer day to find out where we were on the list - thereby establishing that we were on it.

Re HA - we are really pleased with the school. Do PM me if you want more specific info.

W6PARENT Fri 21-Mar-14 17:22:43

You are wrong. They use distance from the school. They told me where I was on the list.

W6PARENT Fri 21-Mar-14 17:26:52

And in the category where they use random allocation they can tell you too, they rank ALL applications in that category randomly once then they use that same rank for the wait list.

titchy Fri 21-Mar-14 17:39:26

So if they rank ALL applications within a particular criteria according the order they are drawn out of the hat how are late applicants ranked?

prh47bridge Fri 21-Mar-14 18:54:27

You are wrong

I am right. Category 6 takes 50% of the places remaining after the first 5 categories and is decided on distance. The remaining places are split between categories 7, 8 and 9 and decided on random allocation. So, as I say, WLFS uses random allocation as a tie breaker in several categories.

The fact they were willing to tell you your position on the waiting list suggests they regard everyone on the list as being in category 6. I believe that may be contrary to the Admissions Code. If the vacancy comes about as the result of a child from category 7, 8 or 9 dropping out they should offer it using the rules for the relevant category. That means they must only consider the children in that category and use random allocation to determine who gets the place.

how are late applicants ranked

Any school using random allocation has to hold a fresh draw whenever a place comes up on the waiting list. They cannot simply re-use the results of the draw that determined the initial allocations.

Marmitelover55 Sat 22-Mar-14 10:42:13

I understand that Bristol Cathedral Choir School uses random allocation to fill its places, but they do tell you where you are on the waiting list, as they draw out everyone's name prior to offers day. Not sure how they cope with late applicants. My DD's school also uses random allocation but draw ou a new name every time a place becomes available, so you don't know where you ard on the waiting list.

prh47bridge Sat 22-Mar-14 12:39:42

as they draw out everyone's name prior to offers day

BCCS have to draw out everyone's name prior to offers day as they don't know which pupils will get places at higher preferences. But they cannot use that draw for the waiting list. Paragraph 1.35 of the Admissions Code is very clear that they must hold a fresh draw every time a place is to be offered from the waiting list.

Looking at their admission arrangements they say that they put late applicants in the waiting list randomly. This is not what the Admissions Code requires. They justify this practise with a quote from an old version of the Admissions Code ignoring the fact that even that version insisted on a fresh draw every time a place is offered.

This school should be referred to the Schools Adjudicator.

prh47bridge Sat 22-Mar-14 12:41:58

they rank ALL applications in that category randomly once then they use that same rank for the wait list

I didn't spot this earlier. If they do that is a clear breach of the Admissions Code. They MUST hold a fresh draw every time a place becomes available. The Admissions Code is very clear on this.

Marmitelover55 Sat 22-Mar-14 17:07:04

My friend's child didn't get a place their on offers day and was told that her child was 21st (or something) on the waiting list for his band. I think they also offer 10% of places based on musical aptitude, which I believe is ok, but they also offer a few additional places to cathedral choristers. I assume these children also have musical aptitude, so I think this means they are selecting more than 10% based on musical aptitude. Sounds like this might also bd a breach of the admissions code.

W6PARENT Sun 23-Mar-14 10:25:16

You haven't offered any evidence the admission code says that, all you've said is that for late applicants they have to. WLFS tell you your positions in whatever categories you are in. If a category 6 place becomes available they use that position. If a category 7 position becomes available they use your position in the original random allocation draw. Your assertion that they regard all waiting list places as category 6 is therefore also incorrect.

prh47bridge Sun 23-Mar-14 11:06:50

I have quoted the paragraph number. What more do you want? Paragraph 1.35 is quite specific:

"The random allocation process must be supervised by someone independent of the school, and a fresh round of random allocation must be used each time a child is to be offered a place from a waiting list."

(Emphasis is as per the Admissions Code. The word "must" means compliance is compulsory.)

They can therefore only give you a position on the waiting list if you they are treating you as in category 6. You do not have a position in whichever of categories 7, 8 or 9 you are also in as those are random allocation and must be redrawn every time a place is offered. And your position in the category 6 waiting list is misleading - you can be first in the waiting list in category 6 but if all the children dropping out are from category 8 and you are in categories 6 and 7 you won't get a place.

(For the benefit of anyone reading this list who isn't familiar with WLFS, everyone goes into category 6 which is allocated on distance but only gets 50% of the available places after the first 5 categories have been filled. The remaining applicants are then put into categories 7, 8 and 9 based on distance from the school. This approach means any candidates on the waiting list will be in two categories - category 6 plus one of categories 7, 8 and 9)

There is a further problem with WLFS admission arrangements in that they don't add late applicants to the waiting list until 1st September. Prior to that they run a reserve list containing only the on time applicants and any vacancies are offered to the reserve list. This is effectively putting late applicants at the back of the waiting list which is contrary to the Admissions Code (paragraph 2.14 - "Priority must not be given to children based on the date their application was received or their name was added to the list"). The Schools Adjudicator has consistently ruled against attempts to get around the Admissions Code by operating multiple lists and calling them something other than a waiting list.

nlondondad Sun 23-Mar-14 18:46:01

So it seems that two schools have been established being in breach of the admissions code. Bristol Cathedral School and WLFS.

So what happens now? Does someone report them, and if so who can do this? (and it has to be someone who knows what they are talking about which - errr - rules me out)

prh47bridge Sun 23-Mar-14 21:14:30

Anyone can report a school to the Schools Adjudicator. I tend not to report schools myself, mainly because I feel uncomfortable objecting to the admission arrangements of a school at the other end of the country. I am happy to help any local parents who wish to object to the admission arrangements of these schools.

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