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Primary-school places shortfall: what's happening where you live?

(217 Posts)
HelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 15-Mar-13 10:16:39


It's headline news today that one in five primary schools are now full or near capacity.

And, with 240,000 new primary-school places needed for 2014, the National Audit Office is saying the Department of Education "faces a real challenge... there are indications of strain on school places".

We were wondering how you all feel about this? Do you have a child due to start primary school in September? Are you aware of a shortage of places in your area? What steps are your local council taking to make school places available to all those who need one?

Please do let us know.

lljkk Fri 15-Mar-13 12:56:17

Rural East Anglia, Only very rarely oversubbed. Not even at high school age.

mumofthemonsters808 Fri 15-Mar-13 12:56:38

Huge problem in Tameside, Gtr Manchester, gone are the days when you were guaranteed to get your child into the local primary up the road.It is also difficult to register with a Doctor and Dentist, too few resources for too many people.

Asheth Fri 15-Mar-13 12:57:47

We are in a largish SW town and DC3 is due to start primary this September. Hopefuly at the school my older DC currantly attend.

When DS1 started school he was in a class of 23. But over the years this school has become increasingly oversubscribed. Last year the majority of the places were taken by siblings of existing pupils. Hopefully my DS will get a place due to sibling priority.

I don't know what the council are doing about rising numbers. But when DS1 started school they were trying to close a local school due to low numbers...

Waspie Fri 15-Mar-13 13:00:59

I live in an affulent Berkshire borough and there is just one available space for a reception aged child in the entire borough.

My son started reception in 2012 but didn't get into his catchment school, or any of the other 8 schools nearest to us. He is now in a "bulge" class at a primary 5 miles away. The council had to have 3 bulge classes this year and will need at least 3 in 2013 (council prediction that at least 90 children will not get placed locally in 2013)

A group of parents like me (including me!) are currently in the process of trying to get a free school set up in our area. We have an education partner and have had our interview with the Dept. of Ed. It seems that the council don't give a toss. They are more than happy to sell off every last bit of greenery in the borough to build yet more houses on and yet haven't made any provision for where the children of these new residents are going to be schooled. Also three members of the planning committee are property developers hmm but apparently this isn't a conflict of interest- yeah right. Makes me so angry angry

knitcorner Fri 15-Mar-13 13:06:46

Also in Lambeth here and panicking a year early for a 2014 place. I can't believe the figures now of 250k reception kids in 2014 will not get a school place. It's not like it's a suprise to anyone that all these kids exist, we knew about the baby boom in 2009/10 when they were born, how did the government believe that all these kids were going to be educated?!

We have absolutely no choice about which school ds will go to. Our closest school is 700m and we won't get in, the schools further away, have lower ofsted grades and we still won't get in. If we 'lucky' we might be offered a place at a school in special measures where parents stab each other in the classroom in front of kids.

So our choice is stabby school or cripple ourselves financially to go private.

Blu Fri 15-Mar-13 13:08:57

Lambeth were in crisis a few years ago, and have actually, as far as I can see, acted quite effectively since then - a brand new two-form entry primary is opening near us in September, on the site of a well-regarded secondary, to be an 'all through school'. Meanwhile another local primary is having a new building and is part of a federation which is increasing the number of places. They have opened 2 secondaries (that I know of - Elmgreen and Evelyn Grace) ) in the last 6 years, and have another opening in September.

But as NotCitrus says, the new places may soon be taken up.

The standard of education in Lambeth schools has been rising, I think it was one of the boroughs recently revealed as a place where you had the highest chance of your child being in an 'Outstanding' school. Certainly the ones near us are excellent and very popular. But this, coupled with the financial cllimate, has stemmed the flow of children into private schools and put more pressure on places.

In neighbouring Southwark the Free School phenomenum is resulting in no less than TWO bi-lingual English / German primaries opening not far over the border from all fine there as long as you are happy to choose between faith or bilingual German. No particular reason for the German except that that is the interest and expertise of the guy who started it, and they believe that bilingual edcuation per se is a good thing. With which I agree, but wouldn't have chosen German. Such is the random nature of Free Schools. That is in an area of schools shortages , too.

There is high immigration and migration in Lambeth, but very little employment. I wonder how many recent EU migrants will stay long term in Lambeth. House prices and rentals are rising, and in short supply.

Blu Fri 15-Mar-13 13:11:33

x-posted with KnitCorner - based on your comments about stabby parents, I wonder if the new classes at the new all-through school might be in your general area? wink Those classes will probably ease up the catchments of the surrounding primaries, and maybe spread N of the S Circular?

Blu Fri 15-Mar-13 13:13:13

And stabby school is being re-opened under a federation that has transformed other schools beyond recognition.

Fingers crossed for you. PM me if you like.

marssparklesdownonme Fri 15-Mar-13 13:15:21

I work in a 210 place primary school. Four of our nearby schools were forced to put on an extra reception class this year. We were told that this was a one year only solution. However I have my own suspicion that that is NOT true and we will be asked to do the same this year. It meant we had to have a large mobile put on our already diminished field. We now have no room for a proper sports day or football pitch etc. There are also issues regarding extra children in the playground- kids need room to play and if there's no space to run around ,this causes problems too.
Serious money and thought has to be put into this issue because in seven years time there's going to be even more of a hooha about secondary places than at present.They need to start planning for that now. Education authorities get numbers from the health authorities re birth rates etc so can't complain they don't know what is happening.

TeamEdward Fri 15-Mar-13 13:17:21

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Miggsie Fri 15-Mar-13 13:18:10

West London here - almost every primary now has a bulge class, soon the juniors will follow suit and I suppose, then the secondaries. Apparently there are officially out of primary places and won't have any secondary places left by 2015.

Haven't built a school in 25 years round here - they do have one exisitng old building that is reopening as a school, but that's 30 places and 240 still not placed.

Next door borough is building a multistorey primary with an 8 form intake - that would be my definition of hell.

The independents are all full or close to full, we have gone private, though ironically we could not afford to buy a house within catchment of the nearest outstanding state primaries - £600,000 for a 3 bed house? Not many can afford that, yet still the schools are over subscribed so I assume someone can.

I also noticed the only proposed new schools are religious ones round here - so unless you have religion or money you don't have much choice.

turkeyboots Fri 15-Mar-13 13:18:48

Suburban Swindon here. LA is looking to build a new 2 form entry class for Sept. On top of the extra classes most of the local school took on over the last few years. It is crazy.

But they are so distracted with the acutal crisis in primary, they are not planning secondary places for all these kids. Aiming to build a new school in 2018 which means 3 years with an estimated 200 kids plus each year with no secondary place.....

PanicMode Fri 15-Mar-13 13:25:28

We live in an affluent town in the South East which is often a target for those moving out of London, and every single primary is massively oversubscribed. There isn't a single Year 1 place in the town at the current time, and some which have taken bulge classes in previous years, have now gone back to their original PANs for September, meaning that every place will go to siblings this year. Over 80 children in the town last year were not offered any of their preference schools, and some are being bussed miles. Some parents have been forced to pay for private education, and others sit on waiting lists and home ed. The schools on the rural fringe are being 'encouraged' to expand, but the traffic congestion is already horrendous - and so set to get worse. It's not as though this wasn't forecast - the ONS had predicted a baby boom around now about 5 years ago......

I am on the committee to bring a free school to the town, to try and alleviate the pressure on the town centre, and we are oversubscribed for our September intake several times over.

Startail Fri 15-Mar-13 13:26:31

Quite the opposite here this year, primary has a very small reception class. DDs secondary vis looking at falling rolls for years to come.

I think there may be more tiny babies, but we got hit very hard by high rural house prices.

Many nice families forced out as anything affordable to rent was sold. Better off families choosing to go private.

Tallulaxx Fri 15-Mar-13 13:35:15

Blu, I know exactly what new primary school you're talking about because we're literally around the corner too! How do they allocate places is that through Lambeth Council or themselves? Hopefully my youngest DD will get a place in 2015. My eldest is in a good primary and hopefully she will get into the academy!

It's very scary times indeed, but ready to fight for school places.

Manchesterhistorygirl Fri 15-Mar-13 13:38:52

Also in Tameside and the situation began around the 2010 intake and has got worse every year. Ds1's school takes 15 pan, but went up to 17 last year and will be 20 this September. I know parents who have had twins spilt across schools and I also know that the secondary intake for my sons year does not have enough spaces for children in the borough.

Ds2 goes in 2015 and I'm hoping he gets in on sibling preference, but its not guaranteed and we are 2 miles away. I know his preschool has unprecedented demand for September this year.

Our council, labour for last 27 years, has been pulling down schools, combining sites into super primaries and then allowing family housing to be built on those sites. It's an utter fucking shambles.

Skimty Fri 15-Mar-13 13:39:09

I am just a reasonably intelligent lay person but I cannot understand why we are building more and more family houses with no thought to the knock on effect on services. I think that planning permission for new developments should not be granted unless the builders can show that there are sufficient school places etc.

The real individual effect here is the schools changing their sibling policy so you only have priority if it is your 'nearest school'. Now, that sounds reasonable until you realise that my son's school has two school less than a mile away. There are some people who live less than half a mile from the school with siblings there and yet will be doing two school runs. Ridiculous

Skimty Fri 15-Mar-13 13:40:16

Oh, and nobody from the council seems to be thinking about the secondaries.

edam Fri 15-Mar-13 13:43:51

I'm a governor in a small commuter town in the SE. Our LEA has spent years refusing to allow my son's primary to expand from 1.5 class to two form entry, claiming 'there are excess primary places' here. They don't seem to have noticed all the families who move here precisely because there are good schools... last year they had to add bulge classes to two local primaries, but still refusing to expand ours (because in the long term they want to chuck us off our site and give the ground to the secondary next door). So we are stuck with a 45 intake, while extra places go to the Catholic primary, which is obviously appealing to only part of the population!

edam Fri 15-Mar-13 13:44:42

Oh and agree with everyone saying, what about secondaries?

DontmindifIdo Fri 15-Mar-13 13:48:43

oh god, why is it when I gave birth in 2009 and we had shortages of midwives, overstretched maternity services etc did no one think "hang on, all these children will be needing school places, perhaps we should spend the next 5 years sorting that?" rather than leaving it to a year before?

Our area is pretty bad, we're hoping DS gets in one of the two schools walking distance from our house, but might have to accept we find hte money for prep and be poor from then onwards

Llareggub Fri 15-Mar-13 13:48:58

I have just moved to a small city and couldn't get a place for my yr 1 child in any of the local primaries. We have ended up in a catholic primary which is a lovely school but not necessarily what I would have chosen.

My younger son is due to start reception in September and his class is undersubscribed.

Cien Fri 15-Mar-13 14:01:13

One new class last September and two more from this September, which means the SENCO now has no classroom or office and there's no ICT suite (trolley system to be used) and the breakfast/afterschool club has no home.

There are no "corners" left to take small groups to as they are all in use as someone's office or by the SENCO. The SLT office is a converted cupboard with no windows, I'd be amazed if it meets H&S and/or fire regs.

Phonics groups are done in the staff room and in each of the four corners of the hall (at the same time)

Reception and YR1 are still full and not able to accommodate all applications and this is only a "satisfactory" school.

RugBugs Fri 15-Mar-13 14:02:56

There's the two extremes in Liverpool.
The oversubscribed schools are massively oversubscribed, the catchment for the two form entry nearest us was 450m last year.
Then there are lots of schools in the centre/North of the city that struggle to fill 50% of places even with the children that don't get any of their preferences.

The city are consulting about adding an extra priority before distance based on if a child has a parent employed at the school. I forsee applications for lunch supervisions going through the roof in certain areas.

Mirage Fri 15-Mar-13 14:11:19

Rural Leicestershire here,local primary full,as are all the other village schools.There are 15 Reception places a year and last year 17 children were turned away.When DD1 started there in 2007,only 3 or so children were out of catchment,the next year the school was classed as Outstanding and since then more and more children from the nearby towns are applying.

We are heading for a problem with secondary schools as the local town decided,despite a huge influx of Poles to the town and a bulge in the birth rate,to close one of the two secondaries.None of the children due to leave our primary this year have got a place there and rather than going to the sink school in another town,a lot are going private.We have to chose DD1's secondary this year and are getting worried.I'm another person who wonders why,with the increase in the birth rate and immmigration,did no one think that there might be a need for more school spaces?

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