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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.

AngelsWithSilverWings Fri 15-Mar-13 14:11:36

We are in Essex and our local school is over subscribed every year. Living well within the catchment area will not guarantee you a place.

The reception places available each year are 120. Last September 90 of those places were taken up by siblings of children already at the school. My friend's child was first on the waiting list when the places were allocated but didn't get a place until January when a child moved out of the area.

We know of one family who own a house on the outer reaches of the catchment area but decided to rent it out and rent another house for themselves to live in closer to the school. There are also a few children who "live" in their Grandparent's house.

The school is very very cramped and bursting at the seams. It's run with military precision though.

bryte Fri 15-Mar-13 14:15:18

I live in a large town in East Anglia. Several schools are being considered for expansion. DDs' school is already one of the biggest in the county so won't be expanded. The catchment area has shrunk over the past few years and if we were applying from our house now, for a school place, we would not get in. It is our named catchment school. A 3 form entry primary school is bad enough (as my children attend). Children already have 2 tiered lunch. y5 and Y6 eat lunch outside all year round. PE is done on a rota with art and RE. They have 2 of those subjects for 4 weeks, then change. So, they go 4 weeks without having PE. The playground is crowded, although luckily they have big fields and KS1 and KS2 have a separate playground.

I cannot imagine how daunting a 4 form entry school would look like to a little child.

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

This is appalling, proper education should be given to all children no matter which faith, colour, origins they are.

springlamb Fri 15-Mar-13 14:19:41

North Croydon here. Many of our primaries have a bulge class now. At our particular one, we chucked the 2 Year 6 classes out into huts on the school field to make way for bulge classes which clearly aren't temporary. As we've now chucked the schoolkeeper out of his house and are developing a larger nursery unit which, I believe will be 104 places(!).

bryte Fri 15-Mar-13 14:20:33

Whne building new houses and considering school capacity, I wonder how they work out how many school children will occupy a new development. I suspect they take an average from an established area and apply that to the new development, conveniently forgetting that new developments tend to attract more families with school aged children.

knitcorner Fri 15-Mar-13 14:22:23

i am horrified by your description bryte!

Is that really what we are fighting to get a place for? A 4 weekly PE rota?! That is sad, and shocking. Here in London we don't even have big fields so it's no suprise that our kids are not getting enough exercise.


unebagpipe Fri 15-Mar-13 14:25:37

Mumsnet have raised the issue- but looking forward what are we mums going to do about it? Are there already national level petitions in place? Will mumsnet try and escalate the matter? I'd be happy to volunteer my time to help out on this matter- but not sure what is already in place...?

I think a petition to halt new building until school places are sorted out may turn a few heads!

Sunnymeg Fri 15-Mar-13 14:26:39

Sw, rural village school. with seven classes. This year they took in two reception classes for the first time as catchment boundaries changed to incorporate new housing estate on edge of nearest town. So the school will double in size in the next few years and portakabins will be put on playing fields to accommodate.

We had two new secondary schools open last year under the 'Building Schools for the Future' scheme. The capacity of the schools was based on the lowest birth year for 12 years, so they will become hideously cramped in a few years sad sad

bryte Fri 15-Mar-13 14:31:40

I'd support any joined up effort to make parents' voices heard nationally.

ReallyTired Fri 15-Mar-13 14:32:56

A free school with capacity for 60 children is opening near us. Primary is not so bad, but I dread secondary

akaemmafrost Fri 15-Mar-13 14:39:32

When dd started in Reception that was a January start and she was able to do so because another reception class had been created. So two receptions. This year there is three. All pupils from above Reception have now been barred from the fenced off play area attached to the Reception classrooms. Obviously with so many more reception pupils they now need it to themselves. The nursery has also been divided and a classroom created there. Not sure what other measures have been taken other than that.

OneLittleToddleTerror Fri 15-Mar-13 14:40:04

I cannot imagine how daunting a 4 form entry school would look like to a little child.

It's not a problem if done well. I went to a 5 form entry primary school.

akaemmafrost Fri 15-Mar-13 14:41:43

I am in West London. No green area for sports or PE here either. Though they sometimes use a big park that is about 500 m away.

StiffyByng Fri 15-Mar-13 14:48:36

We're in Southwark, on the Lewisham boundary. We are not in the catchment for any of our 6 nearest schools and all are oversubscribed. The area has limped by with rotating bulge classes which then lead to sibling only intakes in subsequent years. We will be applying for 2015 and there are two potential free schools in the offing by then. I'm not keen on the idea but there is no other option now LEAs can't open schools themselves. We can't afford private so are desperately hoping to avoid having to get our child to a failing school at the other end of the borough every day.

EskSmith Fri 15-Mar-13 14:48:38

Rural Northamptonshire here. Very real prospect of dd2 starting school in September as only girl in class of 3 (max class size 15) very lean year across the district apparently. For the following year I already know of 12 children so a very real chance of being oversubscribed!!

RISC1 Fri 15-Mar-13 15:00:49

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

thegreylady Fri 15-Mar-13 15:04:30

My grandchildren go to an excellent small rural school-about 80 pupils aged between 3 and 11.There are 4 classes.The school is full and has a waiting list for years 1 and 2 but there are spaces in nearby small town schools.I havent heard of any problems for September.I hope it will be ok as my dd lives outside the county.Dgs1 is in yr1 and dgs2 is in Nursery hoping to start yrR in September.

Blu Fri 15-Mar-13 15:07:27

Talullaxx - I am sure admission will be via the LEA central form - but probably with a supplementary form direct to the school. The admissions booklet on the Lambeth wensite will tell you.

One of the problems with new provision is that it isn't made where the problem is. In Lambeth and Southwark you can't just free up new land in the place where the school shortages are. Mostly because that is exactly the land that has been developed for high density housing... where the children fighting for places are living.

So you get new schools where there is land. I live in an epicentre of schools. A real choice of 2 good secondaries - with a 3rd (unproven) opening in September all within a short walk. If i were putting a child in primary this year I could choose from 3 excellent primaries (2 proven, one with great credentials) and one as yet unproven primary. In other parts of the borough parents may receive NO offer at all. The Free School issue is adding to this. People applying to open free schools with no relationship to where the school 'balck holes' are. Or opening Free Schools with specific agendas, when what people wnat is a local co-ed community school that does a good job.

So, it isn't just the shortages of space that is a problem, but the lack of planning or strategy in the way that shortage is met.

harryhausen Fri 15-Mar-13 15:07:58

I'm in South Bristol. Pressure on school places seems to change drastically within very short distances.

5 mins down the road, the 3 primaries locally have all added bulge years and extra firm intakes. Now one is considering becoming a 'super school' with a split site adding an extra 4 classes per year (I think).

However, I'm just up the road. We have masses of space ( huge playing fields, games courts etc) no huge problem with spaces. We have a good ofsted rating.

I don't really understand why more parents I know aren't looking ever so slightly further afield. I think most of it is 'word of mouth' about being seen to get into the 'right school'.

glenthebattleostrich Fri 15-Mar-13 15:09:33

Our residents association and councillors spotted this about 18 months ago and it has taken until about 2 months ago for the council to agree we will be a class size short of places. Luckily the head teachers at local schools have been far more proactive pushing to expand their intakes so we should be ok.

TheCrackFox Fri 15-Mar-13 15:20:49

Leith, Edinburgh (I know this report was only about England) and the schools around here are fit to burst. One school, 5 yrs ago was ear marked for closure but last year had a 3 classes p1 (no reception in Scotland) intake. Similar stories all over Edinburgh.

What pisses me off is that 5 yrs ago the maternity hospital was struggling with women in labour being turned away at the door and travelling 50 miles to give birth. The council have had plenty of notice but chose to ignore it. Pathetic.

Oblomov Fri 15-Mar-13 15:23:41

Surrey. Ds2 due to start sept. Am quitely confident of getting him to ds1's school, but i do know that in sw london and surrey there is a massive deficit and i think they released a huge figure of children that they already knew would not get a school place.

StiffyByng Fri 15-Mar-13 15:38:08

The free school point is a very good one. I just want a decent community school for my children. Not a faith school (two of my nearest six are faith schools) and not a single issue one. One of the possible free schools opening is one of the English-German bilingual ones mentioned already. I can't judge how good a school it may be of course but neither of us speaks German or has any connection to it, so if our daughter ends up there, it will be pretty ridiculous.

Phineyj Fri 15-Mar-13 15:38:23

I would like to see a national discussion of whether it is sensible in this day and age to have so many religious primaries. When my DD is school age, if she doesn't get into the popular local primary, all the other nearby schools are CofE. We are atheists. It seems peculiar to me that there are so many religious schools when the seriously religious are a minority of the population (I understand the historical reasons for this but do not think a public service should be selecting children on religious grounds).

OneLittleToddleTerror Fri 15-Mar-13 15:41:21

Phineyj I think it's appalling too to have so many religious schools that has discriminatory admission practise. If there is a school which puts gay or non-white parents at the lowest priority category, there will be an outcry. So why is it ok in this day and age to discriminate based on religion?

PS. We are atheists too.

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