School applications – with 400 extra applications and over 400 not getting a first, second or third choice place – councils need to do the maths

IT LOOKS like a huge amount of people didn’t get their children into their nearest primary school this year, and will have to start the soul-sapping job of appealing.

Allocations for secondary places always cause problems, but the primary system is now heaving under the weight of requests. There were over 400 more applications than last year.

The number who did not get ANY of their three choices was 476.

That’s a whole school’s worth of reception-age kids, or roughly 15 class-fulls.

I feel particularly for those who live near a school and haven’t got their eldest child in because they don’t already have a child in the system. But there’s no arguing with the priority for sibling link. It would be heartbreaking, let alone a logistical nightmare, to drop a four-year old off at one school and bus across town to get a six-year-old to school somewhere else.

I know that sounds biased because all four of our offspring have been at the same school since our eldest got a place ten years ago. But I can’t apologise for that. Back then the school wasn’t oversubscribed, as very few schools were. Now it has a waiting list. It is also one of the few that has a nursery and afterschool attached, which means people further away have to choose it.

The plain fact is that the county council has a responsibility to find places for all children and they knew full well the population was rising. They are allowing new houses to be built which are meant to attract families. But new schools are not being built as swiftly as new housing developments.

Since the move from the middle and upper school system almost a decade ago, many schools were closed down, as pupils were crammed into the remodelled primary and secondary schools. The end result is that there simply aren’t enough primary schools in Northampton. There are plenty rotting away in a state of desperate disrepair waiting to be sold, but not enough to house children nearby.

There are lists of all the schools in the county on the county council’s website. They break down how many places were allocated by what criteria. In Northampton there are only two schools that are marked as having places left. The village schools have LOADS with places. But how many families with young kids can afford to move to a village? How long before a village school with spare places is deemed uneconomical and closed too?

Idiotic and largely misleading league tables, coupled with the maddening fiction of ‘parental choice,’ and financial cuts that are seeing fewer teachers employed when there should be more, are all having a detrimental effect on education as a whole.

Investment in nursery places is great but what if there’s nowhere to teach them locally when they actually get to compulsory schooling? Why give parents the chance to go out to work if they’ll have to give up that job in order to get their children to a school half and hour’s drive away? It’s a ridiculous situation.

It is essential that you look at the county council website to work out what to do next, as different schools have different procedures.

If you didn’t get ANY of your choice, I would advise that you ring your three schools and get on their waiting list. You may find that a school has held back places for appeals, and most importantly, when everyone responds to their allocations, more places become available. Which makes it very important that you respond QUICKLY to accept a place if you DID get what you wanted.

Any extra places are re-allocated on May 30, June 20 and July 16, or you may find you get a call literally at the last-minute. A friend’s son had actually been bought uniform for a school further away and the day before term started she was told a place had come up at her nearest.

You should also contact your local councilor, because they should be the ones working to get more schools built-in this town, not sitting back while the weeds and wildlife take over the ones the politicians chose to close.

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3 Comments

Filed under Parenting

3 responses to “School applications – with 400 extra applications and over 400 not getting a first, second or third choice place – councils need to do the maths

  1. Also start early in the selection process. Approach those schools you are interested in and ask about waiting lists and at what stage in your child’s nursery or primary education you should start applying for a place and bear in mind that there an infinite number of parents out there who want a place for their child and a finite number of places.

  2. Also start early in the selection process. Approach those schools you are interested in and ask about waiting lists and at what stage in your child’s nursery or primary education you should start applying for a place and bear in mind that there an infinite number of parents out there who want a place for their child and a finite number of places.

  3. . (It is not possible to ever be completely “caught up” because waiting list moves at one school impact seat availability at other schools.) In some cases, waiting lists haven’t moved much or at all.

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