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Emergency Extra Classes
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Posts: 3,224
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #1
25-07-2013 07:57 AM

I don't know the full story, which is why I'm posting, to understand a bit more about what has happened.

Just before the end of term Lewisham appears to have noticed that there are more children than school places (despite clear warnings that this would be the case for at least 4 years). As a result Fairlawn, Kilmorie, and Hasteltine, all excellent schools in and around SE23 in a single federation, have had to add additional classes, in the case of Kilmorie I understand that this means 4 form entry (120 children in a single year).

What seems seriously unfair is that some parents will have been put off applying for schools (or accepting alternatives) based on tiny catchment areas, when at the last minute there is a massive and unexpected increase in supply. It makes any idea of parental choice a little harder to understand.

A secondary concern that I have is what effect this will have on following years, with large numbers of siblings to these same schools (sometimes coming larger distances) filling up places that would otherwise go to local children.

Is there any physical space left for the additional classes that will be needed next year, given that the numbers of children requiring places is only increasing next year?

But most of all how could school places have suddenly turned into what looks like crisis management, and just before the summer holidays looks not only unfair on parents, but deliberately designed to avoid any discussion by governors, parents, councillors, etc.

I realise I don't know everything that is going on, so I hope that if I have mis-stated any points here they will be corrected.

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Posts: 147
Joined: Dec 2007
Post: #2
25-07-2013 01:49 PM

As a parent at Fairlawn and knowing of families that have been offered places in this year's 'bulge' class, hopefully I can add something to the discussion.

Indeed, the schools you mention we asked by the LEA to take a bulge class each. I don't know how much was 'volunteered' and how much was mandatory, but the benefit of a school taking a bulge class is the capital investment that is provided by the authority in order to upgrade the facilities for the incoming bulge and also generally around the school. So there are benefits to the school of taking an extra class.

In Fairlawn's case, the last bulge year (which is the year my son is in) will be going up to the junior school in September, which will allow the infant facilities to carry on at the same rate of use as they have been over the last 3 years, so the existing infants will not notice a difference. When it comes to whole school events (assembly etc) things may be a bit tight, but i understand that many assemblies are already divided into infant and junior. I don't think Fairlawn for one could fit in another bulge next year though. Kilmorie and Haseltine have bigger buildings and premises, I think.

In terms of parents applying for schools further afield or accepting other places, from what I can gather the schools have filled the bulge classes by working through the waiting list. As parents can stay on a waiting list for a school even if they have accepted another place, what this means is that a parent who has accepted a place further away at another school, can now have the opportunity to take a place at fairlawn/kilmorie/haseltine, and release the other place, which will in turn free up spaces at those schools for other families. So in effect it will work like the 'shakedown' process that happened earlier in the year, and parents who didn't get a place first time around shouldn't be at a disadvantage. And also it means that the furthest distance from the school shouldn't change that drastically, in terms of siblings in future years.

Admittedly this has all happened VERY late in the day and isn't ideal for anyone (the school included who now need to source staff/accommodation and sort all the admin over the summer break), and I don't know why Lewisham waited so long - surely they knew that 267 pupils didn't have a place at the end of March. Or were they just crossing their fingers and hoping they would go away?

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Posts: 3,224
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #3
25-07-2013 02:16 PM

Thanks for that information, it is certainly somewhat reassuring that parents who have already accepted offers in other places will be able to switch, but that does make planning difficult for other schools going through this shakedown. I imagine that Horniman in particular will suddenly lose a number of children (who may be closer to Fairlawn but outside their tight catchment area) and have a lot of spare places which they then need to fill through this 'shakedown' process, all of which will happen during school holidays, which is hardly ideal for anybody; parents or admin staff at the schools.

I certainly hope Lewisham gets itself better organised for next year when it is likely that even more children will be apply for places in Lewisham and my daughter will be one of that number.

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