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South west London parents of secondary kids this mummy having a meltdown needs your help!

(47 Posts)
sparklymumSW4 Tue 20-Oct-20 12:50:29

Hi all,
I’m having a mummy meltdown over picking the dreaded secondary school I’m particularly finding this stressful task challenging as we can’t view most and the virtual videos are not the same as viewing the school.

We live in Clapham and our local school is Lambeth academy is a 10 min walk it’s had some bad publicity over the years but I'm trying to look past that and focus on the improvement, they were doing a tour so decided to attend and surprisingly didn't hate it! In fact I rather liked it Obviously it’s still not as it would normally be due to Covid restrictions but seems well run & quite strict and I personally think strict is good teaches discipline & hopefully respect

I have just over a week to make our choice I’m so anxious as my baby is going off to school and so scared I’m going to make the wrong choice so I’d really love to hear the thoughts & views from secondary parents in the south west London area of your kids schools or parents of kids currently at Lambeth academy to Hive me feed back from a parents point of view

Thanks xx

OP’s posts: |
AveEldon Tue 20-Oct-20 14:15:25

Where do kids from your primary usually go?

JuliaJohnston Tue 20-Oct-20 14:21:22

You get to rank (6, usually; depending on borough) schools in order of preference. There really isn't a huge element of actual choice involved.

MintyIguana Tue 20-Oct-20 16:38:18

If it is your local school – aren’t there parents at your primary school you can talk to who already have older kids there? Are they happy? Rather importantly - what has the school’s response to CV19 and online learning and support been?
I have zero knowledge of Lambeth Academy or other schools in your immediate area, but we do live quite nearby and your post could have been me this time last year. Our local secondary school has had a bumpy past and for many was perceived as the option for those with no other options. We went to view it this time last year (with new head in place to bring it out of RI) and I was amazed that the behaviour and engagement in learning that I saw was better than some supposedly ‘outstanding’ options. Then we had CV-19 – and they have smashed it out of the park with their determination, embracing of technology and innovation, and all round support for the students. DD is now half a term into y7, incredibly happy and secure with delightful, clever, new and old local friends and we have no doubt we made the right decision (we ended up rejecting a July offer to our original 1st choice ‘outstanding’ school). I think that some schools are resting on the laurels of ancient OFSTED reports while those that haven’t been great are under far more scrutiny and are far more proactive in terms of making positive changes.
I think my point is – speak to people who have kids there and don’t judge it on its past, judge it on what it is now and the direction it is going in. Having said that, I’m sure wherever your child ends up they will be absolutely fine. As parents we worry far more than they do.

Iheardarumour Tue 20-Oct-20 16:45:22

I live in Southwark. Even though I put down my nearest secondary school as first choice, we initially got a school two buses away that had very poor GCSE and A level passes. There is no "choice", per se. Your child's future is defined by a computer algorythmn. My daighter now goes out of borough to a decent school, but only after we put her on a lot of waiting lists and standing firm against Southwark council. (As far as they were concerned, DD was offered a place at a school, and so they washed their hands of us)

Iheardarumour Tue 20-Oct-20 16:48:28

Sorry just to add...the crappy school was universally shunned by all the parents I spoke to. They were all on waiting lists to move their child out.

AllTheWorldIsGreen Tue 20-Oct-20 19:32:57

Have you considered Chestnut Grove?

sparklymumSW4 Tue 20-Oct-20 20:56:12

Thanks all

@AveEldon various schools in and out of local area xx

@JuliaJohnston thanks xx

@MintyIguana thanks, it's tricky most parents in my year group listen to the rumours of it's such a terrible school with badly behaved kids but i honestly didn't get that feel for it I'm thinking logically about location, can walk to school in 15mins no transport, his primary school bestie is putting it as first choice (they say if you put it 1st you'll be guaranteed a place as undersubscribed) our other choice was Kingsdale in dulwich supposedly amazing but with over 2000 and a bus ride away it makes me anxious when we visit there, it was when children were not there & the although the school facilities were amazing I just felt there's far too many kids.
I would live to talk to parents of kids at the Lambeth academy school only I can't find any I agree about the fisted reports some are very old and schools can change right? Glad your child settled into school xx

@Iheardarumour sorry to hear that, the Lambeth academy guarantee place if first choice on form, I think it's really hard for schools to shake off bad rep which is why I'm anxious but walking around the school You could hear a pin drop it was silent in all lessons and kids looked engaged (they have a zero disruption of lesson policy if the teacher has to talk to you more then once you're in 1hr detention. Hope all works out for you and daughter loves her school xx

@AllTheWorldIsGreen yes but really hard to get into and we live quite far I also liked Dunraven again really hard to get into. Xx

OP’s posts: |
OhCrumbsWhereNow Tue 20-Oct-20 21:06:52

Putting a school first on the list does not increase your chances of getting it.

Admissions will calculate your chances of getting into all 6 schools on your form, they will then allocate you the one that you put highest on the list (if you qualify for more than one). The schools have no idea what order you put them, and it has no effect on whether or not you get a place there.

Put the school you like best in first place, and makes sure you have at least one school down that you are definite to get a place at even if you don't like it.

portico Tue 20-Oct-20 21:15:19

Being one of the south London Boroughs, have you checked on local catchment’s youth crime stats, knife crime, local gangs - that’ll give you an indication of which schools to give a wide berth

sparklymumSW4 Tue 20-Oct-20 21:18:43

@OhCrumbsWhereNow Lambeth academy have said if we put it at the top of list you will be guaranteed a place as they are undersubscribed, I just think it would be good to know a few schools we might get like you do with college applications and decide then factoring in various things but I realise it doesn't work that way. Xx

OP’s posts: |
sparklymumSW4 Tue 20-Oct-20 21:20:54

@portico thanks xx

OP’s posts: |
OhCrumbsWhereNow Tue 20-Oct-20 21:24:01

If it's undersubscribed then you can put it bottom of your list and you'll still be guaranteed a place!

The order only matters if you qualify for more than one school - then you get the one highest on your list.

Last year I had 3 on my list that I knew I was guaranteed DD would get a place at, and 3 that may as well have been in a different country as we had zero chance.

So you can safely put Lambeth Academy as No 6 and anywhere you like better above that.

sparklymumSW4 Tue 20-Oct-20 21:30:54

@OhCrumbsWhereNow oh fab thanks for advice x

OP’s posts: |
AveEldon Tue 20-Oct-20 22:40:35

I guess other options to consider are -
Chestnut Grove
Harris Battersea
Harris Clapham - new school on Clarence Ave
Bolingbroke - unlikely to get in unless you are in a feeder school

Guymere Tue 20-Oct-20 23:05:33

Lambeth Academy at least has a 2020 Ofsted report which rates it as good. That’s fairly reassuring. You cannot do anything about crime levels. It’s often safer to go to school with friends who you trust rather then travel out of area if you are worried.

I would also slightly take issue with children learning respect etc in strict schools. Lots of dc spend a lot of time trying to get round strict uniform and other rules and it can be counterproductive to have a regimented school. Some dc love it but others don’t thrive. If you like the ethos, I cannot see why you would look elsewhere if you are unlikely to get into those schools.,

Guymere Tue 20-Oct-20 23:07:55

Oh and 2000 in a school is big but schools like this are usually well organised and are just as good as smaller schools. DC are perfectly happy in them. They can also offer lots of subjects.,

myrtleWilson Wed 21-Oct-20 05:40:44

How under subscribed were they last year OP?

BettySundaes Wed 21-Oct-20 12:15:20

I know it has been one to avoid with parents for many years, I think many dismiss it without even taking a look! I watched the online presentation for Lambeth Academy and like you think they are turning things around - evidence is already there in the recent OFSTED and DfE stats. Maybe your primary school can put you in touch with some parents of kids who have gone there in the last year or two. I understand your reservations and about wanting the insider view. I feel for you not having the full opportunity to explore different schools this year. We're Yr5 so will have to make a decision on this next year.

LifeAfterBreastCancer Wed 21-Oct-20 12:27:57

Not sure if you have a son or daughter but you could also look at La Retraite in Clapham. I'm not sure how oversubscribed it is but worth exploring.

steppemum Wed 21-Oct-20 12:36:45

@Iheardarumour sorry to hear that, the Lambeth academy guarantee place if first choice on form

this is not only not true, but illegal, and I am so cross that schools are still doing it.

It does not make any difference if you pu tthe school 1st or 6th.

Put the schools in the order that YOU want.
If you are eligible for no. 1. you will get no.1.
If not, then your no. 2 is then considered as if it was no. 1. if you are eligible then you get a place, if not, then you are considered for no. 3.
and so on.

How do you know if you are eligible? The school has specific criteria on their web page, usually
kids with EHCP/looked after kids
distance from the school.

The trouble in London is that the distance from school is so small, so the school is filled up with kids who live less than 300 yds from the school and no-one else can get in. Thi sis presumably what happened to Iheardarumour

What they probably mean is that they are never full, so if you choose them you will get in.

steppemum Wed 21-Oct-20 12:44:44

(I should say that the computer system doesn't work exactly like that, but in terms of how it effects you that is it. )

BettySundaes Wed 21-Oct-20 12:53:00

@steppemum It's historically an undersubscribed school. Yes there popular schools that you have to live on top of to get in - but equally in South London there are many unpopular schools which year on year never reach their PAN and you can get into if you lived on the moon.

What OP is trying to discover is whether Lambeth Academy a diamond in the dirt!

steppemum Wed 21-Oct-20 13:07:33


*@steppemum* It's historically an undersubscribed school. Yes there popular schools that you have to live on top of to get in - but equally in South London there are many unpopular schools which year on year never reach their PAN and you can get into if you lived on the moon.

What OP is trying to discover is whether Lambeth Academy a diamond in the dirt!

yes I know, but understanding that the school is tellling lies about admittance is relevant, and understanding the porcess with regards to how to put them on th eapplication is relevant.

When schools lie and say 'put us first and we'll give you a place' it changes how parents fill in the form, which matters.

sparklymumSW4 Wed 21-Oct-20 13:27:42

@LifeAfterBreastCancer LaRetraite is great but I have sons I went to that school tho many moons ago! Another one parents keep mentioning is chestnut grove when I was at school it was a little tough around the edges I have to make my mind up soon or they'll get nothing xx

OP’s posts: |

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