Forthbridge School site : and what now?

Author: Ian Hamilton

It’s been about 6months since the last proposals for the Forthbridge School site were voted down. There have been some recent developments:

  1. We recently chased Children’s Services and we were very disappointed to discover they have made no investigations whatsoever into the local access issue (despite the clear wording of the January amendment proposed by Cllr Jonathan Cook). They have stated this is because Belleville is definitely applying to become an Academy. [See our previous article].
  2. I also spoke with Cllr Cook last night. He is very excited about a new campaign for a free school in the area, but confirmed to me that this free school campaign will be looking for a completely new site i.e. it will definitely NOT be about the Forthbridge Rd site.He thus has not been chasing Children’s Services at all on the Forthbridge issue, but said last night told me he would.
  3. At least one set of parents has lodged another formal objection via the Office of the Schools Adjudicator to this year’s admission arrangements at the Forthbridge site, ahead of the 31st July deadline. An objection we made last year was not upheld.
  4. The building work on the Forthbridge site is on schedule and nearing completion and children will start attending in September. Bring on the traffic!

Where do things stand?

We have always been aware that Belleville was considering Academy status. If granted (and there’s little reason to think it won’t be) this status means the Governors of Belleville have full control over their own admission policy and the local authority i.e. Wandsworth Council has nothing to do with admissions at Belleville. Any admission arrangements still of course have to conform to the Admissions Code (changes to which are currently being consulted on by the Dept
of Education).

Where from here?

If we do still want to campaign for at least some local access to the Forthbridge Rd site then we need to win over the staff, Governors and parents of Belleville itself. (I think this actually was always going to be where our campaign ended up) I sense there are many current parents at Belleville who sympathise with the inherent unfairness of not being able to attend a school on your doorstep.

It’s also clear to me that in the past consultations this very simple issue has
been rather muddled-up  (mainly through the council’s involvement!) with more complicated issues of sibling admission and the lack of places for would-be parents living south of Honeywell school. Often it’s been would-be parents rather than current parents who have opposed discussions on any local admission to Forthbridge.

Furthermore Belleville is a clearly an excellent school which does understand the importance the links to it’s local community and so I really do feel there is an argument to be made there.

Personally though I am quite jaded by all this and we clearly need some new blood in the campaign if it is to take this new direction. Several people emailed back in January offering more help and support and I would encourage you to email again (using the contact box for example, or in comments below), if you are interested in taking the campaign forward.

If no one responds I guess we may be dead in the water.

More local schools to become Academies

Author: Cyril Richert

Belleville Primary School to become Academy

According to a recent press report from Wandsworth Council, Belleville Primary School in Battersea has applied for academy status under the Government’s education reforms.

The governing bodies at both schools have now voted in favour of applying for academy status following consultations with staff, parents, pupils and their local communities.

f their bids are approved by the Department for Education (DfE) it would mean the schools have greater powers of independence and are funded directly by central government rather than through the council.

Bolingbroke High School converted from “free School” status to Academy

The borough’s first ‘free school’ is set to open in the former Bolingbroke Hospital building in September 2012. Local parents’ group the Neighbourhood School Campaign has successfully applied to convert the building into the new Bolingbroke Academy which would be run by education charity ARK Schools.

Bolingbroke Academy would be independent of the council and free to attend for local children.

ARK Schools that will be running the new Bolingbroke Academy free school in Battersea has appointed the head teacher who will be in charge when it opens to pupils next year.

The educational charity has appointed Claire Edis as the founding principal of the academy. Ms Edis is currently the deputy headteacher of Parliament Hill School in Camden – a girls’ comprehensive with a mixed sixth form.

Her appointment has been welcomed by the council’s spokesman on schools and education. Cllr Kathy Tracey said: “This is a top line appointment and further proof that this new free school is going to offer a very attractive choice to parents of secondary age children in this part of the borough. The day that this free school opens its gates is now drawing closer and closer…”

[By the way, I thought that the Council said that it was no longer a free school as it was converted into an Academy now… The terms are not that easy to understand as there is some confusion inside the Council itself.]

The school, which will open on the site of Battersea’s former Bolingbroke Hospital will admit its first 120 Year 7 pupils next September and will continue growing each year until full. It will have four forms of entry each academic year.

The academy will have the normal admissions rules of a state funded school with most pupils joining from five feeder primary schools – Belleville, Falconbrook, High View, Honeywell and Wix.

It is promising a “rigorous academic education” that will prepare all its pupils for university courses.

The curriculum will have excellent English and mathematics at its core, to provide the strongest possible educational platform from which all subjects can be taught effectively. The school will set very high achievement targets for all pupils and will organise its curriculum and teaching to make it possible for all pupils to reach their targets.

A full curriculum will be in place to age 14 including all current National Curriculum subjects including separate sciences, design/technology and IT, as well as music, drama, foreign languages, art and sport. The curriculum for pupils entering the school with attainment below age level will be designed to accelerate their progress so that they can participate fully in the whole curriculum.

From age 14 the school will offer a full programme of GCSEs, together with a selection of other courses to ensure a programme which challenges and meets the needs of all pupils. The expectation will be that almost all pupils should continue to study at least one humanity and a language to age 16.

From the age of 16 the school will offer a full programme of A levels, together with a selection of other courses to ensure a programme which challenges and meets the needs of all pupils. Other course options such as International Baccalaureate and Pre-U will also be considered for inclusion nearer the opening date, when the likely extent of demand for such programmes can be determined.

The idea for a new free school on the Bolingbroke site started when a group of local parents set up the Neighbourhood School Campaign (NSC) to campaign for a non-selective, socially inclusive, non-denominational secondary school in this part of Battersea.

Exec confirms decision for further consultation on Belleville

Author: Cyril Richert

The Council’s executive committee unanimously approved last week the Education Commitee decision on Belleville admissions policy:

to investigate other admission solutions that avoid a situation where families adjacent to the Vines have no access to the school, and that better addresses the concerns of local parents, governors and residents, and report them for consideration at a future meeting of the Education and Children’s Services OSC

This means the existing criteria will stay until 2013 because of the consultation timetables. Some roads excluded from the proposed admission zones will still have a better chance next year for Belleville’s catchement area. Roads near the Forthbridge Road site won’t get any place in 2012/13, but their chance was close to zero in the proposal anyway.

See also the comment on Cllr Cousins’ blog.

 

 

Belleville School Plan Sent Back to the Drawing Board

Author: Ian Hamilton

Wandsworth Council’s Education Committee has thrown-out a controversial new admissions scheme proposed for Belleville Primary School.

Instead the Committee has asked Wandsworth Children’s Services Department to go back and “investigate other admission solutions that avoid a situation where families adjacent to <the Forthbridge Rd school site> have no access to the school”.

This second site is to be used for expansion by the popular Belleville School (based at Webbs Rd) from 2011. Residents near Forthbridge Rd have been campaigning for almost a year for a right of access for local children to this site.

Last Wednesday evening the Committee was presented with the results of the second consultation within a year on the matter. This included a recommendation from Children’s Services for two ranked priority admission areas for the Belleville School.

Ian Hamilton was invited to address the committee on behalf of local residents and parents near the Forthbridge Rd.

Mr Hamilton reminded the committee how this latest consultation was held in response to nearly 500 objections made in a previous consultation in June 2010. Most of those objections were to admissions still being based on the distance from the Belleville main school site, 1km away from Forthbridge Rd, Even though this second site will be used to house a class of pupils per year group, the popularity of Belleville would mean children local to the Forthbridge Rd site had little chance of gaining places at it.

Mr Hamilton said that many felt the proposal for a second priority area did not adequately address these concerns even though it was approved in the recent consultation by a narrow majority (51%).

He also pointed out that the recommendations actually placed before the Committee included a new area added onto the second priority area which was not included in the most recent proposals i.e. had not actually been consulted upon, and many felt this raised serious questions about due process.

He added that, as this new area is closer to the Belleville main site (from which admission distance would still be measured), much of the area designated around Forthbridge would in effect become a third priority area.

Kate Amis the Chair of Belleville Governors also spoke to register the objections of Belleville Governing Body to the plans. She raised issues about the effect of the proposals on sibling admissions and their possible impact on the filling vacancies higher up the school.

All three Shaftesbury ward Councillors – Cllr Guy Senior, Cllr James Cousins & Cllr Jonathan Cook – were present and then spoke passionately against the “unfair” and “complicated” plans. These plans, the latest in a series of council proposals, could have seen children living over a mile away gaining places at the Forthbridge Rd site ahead of children living next door to it.

Committee member Cllr Cook noted that 301 of the 304 responses received from Shaftesbury Ward residents were against the proposals and he tabled the crucial amendment (requesting that other admissions solutions be investigated). Committee member and Parent Governor representative Jon Cox described the campaign by residents near Forthbridge as “sympathetic” and “honourable”.

All five speakers and the outcome of the vote itself (6-4) were met with applause and cheers from a packed public gallery.

Campaigner Ian Hamilton said:

Finally we have victory for common sense. Thanks to the support of our local councillors and residents we now have a chance to formulate a transparent arrangement that includes some element of local admission to the Forthbridge Rd site – the only solution most people would consider as fair

The rising demand for school places is creating some difficult situations, but it’s great to see so many residents who care about schools in their area. We really want to work openly with the council, all the local schools, residents and parents to resolve this issue in a positive way“.

————-

Addendum: Cyril Richert

The conclusion of the report (download pdf HERE) such as:

“Due to the continuing rise in birth rate it is recommended that the planned primary school expansion from 1FE to 2FE at Alderbrook is progressed and that the Belleville Primary school’s admissions criteria are amended to establish a first priority area and a second priority area, the latter in two parts as described in this report.”

was rejected by 6 votes to 4:

The Education committee amended the recommendation in paragraph 3(a), to read as follows:

ask the Children’s Services Department to investigate other admission solutions that avoid a situation where families adjacent to the Vines have no access to the school, and that better addresses the concerns of local parents, governors and residents, and report them for consideration at a future meeting of the Education and Children’s Services OSC

VOTING:
Councillor Jonathan Cook tabled amendment
Seconded by Councillor Andy Gibbons

FOR
Councillor Jonathan Cook
Councillor Andy Gibbons
Councillor Wendy Speck
Mr. Jonathan Cox (Parent Governor Rep)
Dympna Margaret Kelly (Parent Governor Rep)
Mr. John Russell (CofE Rep)

AGAINST
Councillor Peter Dawson  (Chairman)
Councillor Mrs. Tessa Strickland  (First Deputy Chairman)
Councillor Charles McNaught-Davis  (Second Deputy Chairman)
Councillor Steffi Sutters

ABSENT: Councillor Jo-Anne Nadler

In other words, all the Conservatives councillors but 1 (elected in Shaftesbury ward) supported the report. It is thank to the two parent governors, Diocesan representative and the two Labour Councillors that the report was amended, with the support of the Shaftesbury Cllr member of the committee!

You can also read the report from James Cousins on his blog, with the title: Rebellion and school admissions. He said:

Last night was the first time I’ve ever ‘rebelled’ by speaking (but not voting, as I’m not a committee member) against the proposed admissions policy for Belleville School. […] I’ve always been clear in my view that the council is not perfect, like any person or organisation it can make mistakes; what is important is that it can spot and rectify those mistakes. Last night, I was proud that the council proved it isn’t an unstoppable juggernaut, it is a mature and responsive organisation – it might not get things right first time, but it’s prepared to listen to make sure it’s gets there in the end.

Belleville School Consultation Results are out!

Author: Forthbridge School Campaign

You can read the results paper that will be presented to the Education Overview Committee on Wed 12th Jan HERE.

It’s a complicated read-through, but in essence 55% of respondents have voted FOR the first GPA and also 51% of respondents have voted FOR the second GPA.

However the Council are now planning to ALTER the area of the second GPA from that which they proposed in their consultation!

The Council now intend to create an additional zone from south of Broomwood Rd down to just north of Thurleigh Rd and include this zone in the second priority area proposed. Here is the NEW map showing the “two-part” second priority area.

Distances will still be measured from the Belleville site!

I am quite gobsmacked by this change of plan and would make several points:

(i) During the consultation the serious issue of school access for residents south of Broomwood Rd came to light. The council were seemingly not as aware of this as they might have been. They are now clearly so concerned about their statutory obligation to provide school places to these people that they have folded this in to their planned changes, in effect prioritising that statutory concern above any concerns of Northside residents.
(The Alderbrook expansion has now been approved and the council feel they cannot influence the closer Honeywell school due to its foundation status)

(ii) Addresses in the streets in this new zone south of Broomwood Rd are, in general, closer to the Belleville School main site than many properties in Northside second priority area (especially those to the east of Elspeth Rd).
As within a Priroty Area admission is still based on distance, this geography means that much demand for places from the Broomwood/Thurleigh Rd zone will likely take priority over most addresses on the Northside, especially those close to the Forthbridge school site (this is of course being the absolute intention of the new zone)
(Thus the Priority Area around the Forthbridge site will become in effect a third priority area!)

(iii) More importantly these recommendations mean the Council are now going to implement a change in admissions policy that they did NOT actually consult on!

As well as the sheer unfairness of such an action, this undoubtedly this raises a clear, serious concern about due process!

The Council’s Education Committee on Wed 12th 7.30pm is held at Wandsworth Town Hall and there is a public gallery.

Please let us know if you are able to attend the meeting – the more people we can get to attend this meeting and show our shock at these “recommendations” the better.

The Shaftesbury Ward Councillor Jonathan Cook has promised to speak against these at the meeting.

You can find the list of councillors on the Education committee on the Council’s website if you wish to contact them.

PS More detail & appendices, item 8 on the agenda HERE.

UPDATE 11/01/2011: Conservatives councillor James Cousins says:

the council has got this wrong […] If you were deliberately trying to invent a scheme that was bad for Shaftesbury residents, it would be hard to come up with something better than the council has for this. It’s a fundamentally flawed scheme. […]

My real objection is that it’s just plain wrong. Do we really want to say to a parent living next to a school, listening to the noise from the playground, seeing the traffic dropping off and collecting children each day, that their child can’t attend because someone living a mile away had a better claim? I cannot see the justice in it. The counter-argument is that it’s just the same a living next door to a private school or a faith school. But it isn’t the same, this isn’t a private or a faith school: it’s a secular, non-selective state school, funded from our taxes.

Read more on his blog: Belleville: the worst admissions policy in the country?

Petition to object the Council’s plan for Belleville’s extension

Following the primary school consultation and the Public Meeting at Belleville School, Monday 15Nov10, a petition is available online aiming to “object to Wandsworth Council’s flawed proposals for the Forthbridge Rd school site“.

Author: Ian Hamilton

After an expansion consultation in June 2010, Belleville Primary School will use the Forthbridge Rd school site from Sep2011, but admissions will still be based on distance from the Belleville main site, over a 1km away.

Wandsworth Council passed this plan despite the 479 objections it received. These were made mostly to the admissions policy which will exclude local children from the Forthbridge Rd site.

Wandsworth Council are now holding another consultation which ends very soon (1st Dec2010).

We, the undersigned, believe that:

  • The Wandsworth Council proposals detailed in the latest consultation are flawed and do not adequately address any of the concerns of the 479 objections made in the Belleville expansion consultation (June2010).
  • These complicated proposals for two, ranked Geographical Priority Areas have conflated the sibling issue at Belleville with the Forthbridge Rd school access issue.
  • The proposal for a Second GPA which:
    a) is ranked in priority behind the First GPA;
    b) contains the Forthbridge Rd site, but is skewed to the west of it;
    c) still calculates admission distances from the main Belleville site;
    means there is little realistic chance of any child living close to the Forthbridge Rd site gaining access to it.
    (As acknowledged by the council at the public meeting on 15Nov2010).

Instead we would urge Wandsworth Council to recognise that:

  1. The Forthbridge Rd school site is an opportunity to develop a successful school site with a strong link to its local community, rather than simply an isolated annexe;
  2. This would best be achieved by a guaranteed percentage of the reception places at the Forthbridge Rd school site being reserved for local children;
  3. Admission criteria for this to be the same as any other school site BUT distance to be measured from the Forthbridge school site;
  4. These local places could be phased-in over a number of years starting from 2012 (to protect demand at other local schools north of the Clapham Common);

You can respond to the consultation before 1st Dec in writing to The Consultation Officer, Admission Consultation, Room 90, Town Hall, Wandsworth High Street, London SW18 2PU

Or Email primaryexpansionconsultation@wandsworth.gov.uk

Or online www.wandsworth.gov.uk/bsf/consultations

Online petition to object to Wandsworth Council’s proposals for the Forthbridge Rd school site (CLICK HERE)

Read also:

Notes on Public Meeting at Belleville School, Monday 15Nov10

Author: Ian Hamilton

The meeting was chaired by Cllr Kathy Tracey and started with a presentation from Assistant Director of Education Sarah Harty and then Q&A from the floor.

Around 100people, chiefly from three groups – who were mostly opposed to the proposals: Belleville Governors, Northside residents and residents from south of Broomwood Rd.

Other than Parent Governors I believe a fair observation is on the low turnout of “regular” Belleville parents (though the 2017 exception means these plans will not actually affect them).

Some facts came to light from questions on the council map of 2010 reception places allocated at Belleville.

We have asked for the date of this map to be clarified and if it may be posted on the council website.

  1. 5 non-siblings inside the second GPA got reception places in 2010 at Belleville
  2. In their proposal letter the council said 25 siblings were made offers who would not have got in on distance alone, at the meeting a related point was made that 19 siblings who live outside both GPAs gained reception places in 2010 at Belleville. Not quite all siblings are marked on the map (as some are from even further than the scale of the map). Counting pink stars it seems maybe only 1 sibling place is not on the map.
  3. In addition there were 6 siblings in the second GPA

Belleville Governors said they are supportive of siblings attending the same school and were very concerned about the impact on filling in-year vacancies (they fear families won’t take an in-year place if future siblings not allowed).

They argued that Belleville tries harder than most schools to fill these vacancies (but like all schools has some e.g. in year6 the Head informed the meeting). They feel this is important way to increase the school’s diversity.

The Governors are concerned Belleville is being singled-out for sibling rule changes. Here is their newsletter.

South of Broomwood Rd residents who would now fall outside the southern boundary of the proposed first GPA argued that some places do currently go to south of this line.

Sarah Harty stated that actually no 2010 non-sibling reception places were actually offered south of Broomwood Rd but the map presented has one marked and two on Broomwood Rd itself (hence the need for clarifications above).

Under the new proposals these residents will now definitely have much less chance of getting into Belleville and they expressed doubts that the Alderbrook expansion will reach up high enough to include them.

It was clarified that Honeywell, a Foundation school is in charge of its own admission policy. It plans to consult next spring (at least two people suggested any admission changes needed to be coordinated amongst schools in the area).

Several Northside residents spoke against the current idea, stating that the new proposals do not address any of the concerns of residents near to the Forthbridge Rd site. A flyer was distributed at the start of the meeting by some (download HERE).

It was asked why the distance calculation in the second GPA was still from the Belleville main site and why the idea of a percentage local entry (as suggested by Cllr Kathy Tracy herself at the July Education Committee meeting!) was not part of the proposals. Both questions drew no response from the council.

The example of Henry Cavendish School, 2miles away in Lambeth was introduced – it recently expanded to two sites and calculates distance from either site. The Council seemed unaware of this school and declined to comment further.

Concerns about increased traffic were mentioned by one Marmion Rd resident.

The council stated there were only 9 applications to Wandsworth schools this year from the streets immediately surrounding the Forthbridge Rd site.

The council perception of future demand was attacked and someone asked about the contradiction of even designing a second GPA for an area with no alleged demand.

A questioner asked about Beatrix Potter School, the only other Wandsworth School with two ranked GPAs, pointing out that several recent years had seen no non-siblings from the second GPA gain a place there.

Bruce Glocking from the council actually agreed that the chances of any child living near Forthbridge Rd site gaining access to it were realistically very small!

Two residents spoke in support of Wix School on the Northside.

Read our article on Belleville and Alderbrook: primary school consultation

Belleville and Alderbrook: primary school consultation

Author: Cyril Richert

We have published a series of articles on the Belleville primary school extension and the choice of primary school in Clapham Junction area over this summer (read our series HERE).

As promised this summer (read the bottom of our article HERE) Wandsworth Council is now running a consultation on primary school admissions in the Northcote, Shaftesbury and Balham Wards and the expansion of Alderbrook School.

The Council is considering the establishment of a geographical priority area for admission to Belleville Primary School from September 2012 and the establishment of a secondary geographical priority area for admission to Belleville Primary School, around its satellite site in Forthbridge Road SW11 5NX, from September 2012 (similar to plan B explained in our article on Solutions for Belleville extension).

You can download the Belleville and Alderbrook Consultation document and a copy of the Proposed Priority Areas for Local Schools Map showing the proposed priority areas for admissions.

Here is the map (click on the image to see bigger) with colours for the two catchment areas (priority zones):

The council does use Geographical Priority Areas at some other schools in the Borough. These are a fixed catchment areas i.e. specific shaped area not just distance and one school Beatrix Potter has a first and second priority area with admission priority following that (Children living in the first priority area are given priority over those living in the second priority area. However, living in either priority area does not guarantee a place at the school. This will depend on the demand for places from people living in the priority areas in a particular year.)

The Biggest effect of GPAs however is on sibling admission. Siblings only get priority admission if they STILL live in the GPA. The idea to use priority areas for Belleville primary school (with extension in Forthbridge road) was raised by Councillor Kathy Tracey.

You should also see our previous articles:

Questions asked by the Council are (do you agree Yes/No):

  1. Should the Council designate a geographical priority area for admission to Belleville School?
  2. Should the Council additionally designate a second priority area for admission to Belleville school?
  3. Alternatively, should the Council make no change to the current admission arrangements for Belleville school?

Alderbrook Primary School to double form of entry

The Council is also consulting on a proposal to expand Alderbrook Primary School from one form of entry (30) to two forms of entry (60) from September 2011.

For information on pupil place projections for Balham, Bedford, Nightingale, Northcote and Shaftesbury wards download the Pupil place projections for the local area.

Question asked by the Council is (do you agree Yes/No):

  1. The Council proposes to expand Alderbrook School from one to two forms of entry from September 2011.

Consultation meetings

Two consultation meetings have been arranged to take place in November 2010 as follows:

  • 15 November 2010 at 6.30pm at Belleville Primary School, Webbs Road, SW11 6PR
  • 18 November 2010 at 6.30pm at Alderbrook Primary School, Oldridge Road, SW12 8PP

The consultation closes on 1 December 2010.

You can submit your views/comments online.

Or write to the Council (download the Belleville and Alderbrook Consultation document):

Ref: JAJ/Belleville Admission Consultation Oct10/sa

Post: The Consultation Officer, Admission Consultation, Room 90, Town Hall, Wandsworth High Street, London SW18 2PU
Email: primaryexpansionconsultation@wandsworth.gov.uk

Any changes to the existing admission arrangements for Belleville Primary School (and its Forthbridge Road site) would be applied to applications for admission in September 2012 onwards.

UPDATE:

The Forthbridge school site campaign published a leaflet ahead of the consultation meeting on Monday 15th at Belleveille school (download HERE).

Concerns are:

  • The Belleville Governors are against these Council proposals, so are they even workable?
  • The proposals are very complicated. They conflate the sibling issue at Belleville with the Forthbridge school access issue.
  • The sibling issue is separate and is for Belleville parents to decide. Many people would like to see this addressed at ALL the schools in the area at the same time.
  • This “ranked GPAs proposal” is flawed because:
    – Nearly all of the reception places offered at Belleville in 2010 by distance alone were to addresses already located in the FIRST GPA (including the 30 “Forthbridge places”).
    – The distances used in the SECOND GPA will still be measured from the Belleville main site.
    – Evidence from other schools shows there’s little realistic chance that any child from the SECOND GPA would ever actually gain a place (Beatrix Potter School 2007-2009)

 

<!–[if !mso]> <! st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } –>  

Email:primaryexpansionconsultation@wandsworth.gov.uk

Web: http://www.wandsworth.gov.uk

Our ref: JAJ/Belleville Admission Consultation Oct10/sa

Choice of school and the need in the Wix area

Author: Cyril Richert

This is our last article of our series on primary schools in the Clapham Junction area.

The borough has the obligation to provide more primary school places borough wide so it is adding extra classes to various schools. Therefore it has chosen the schools where there is the most need as that seems logical.

If opening a new school on the Vines site means that applications would be low at other schools like High View and Shaftesbury Park (all or nearly all applicants are successful), it does not make sense.

Therefore it has to be a case of some need in the area.

The Council is highlighting the birth rate in the Northcote area (apparently one of the greatest in the country) with increases pressure on Belleville; but they see no such unmet demand in the other area (because by “the other area” they mean the huge Planning Area between here and the river encompassing four council wards: St Mary’s Park, Latchmere, Shaftesbury and Queenstown).

However, as in many other cases, we could consider that offer creates demand and that the location of excellent schools attracts many new couple with projects to extend their family and therefore explain the birth rate increase in the area. As shown in the whole country: successful schools are always over-subscribed.

In addition, as the Council is keen to point out that Shaftesbury Park has got available space to welcome children from Forthbridge area, so has High View for those of Northcote ward (closer than the Vines’ site actually). However this option has not been suggested by the Council. Why?

Moreover, through a Freedom Of Information request there is evidence to show that there were actually more applications per place for the Wix school here on the northside (even to its normal intake English language stream) for 2010 reception places than there were for the reception places at Belleville.

*120 places published in Sep09 guide “Choose a Wandsworth Primary School” so that’s the number of places seen by parents when making their applications (deadline 22Jan10)

In 2010 applications for reception places Wix English stream had a higher ratio of total applications per place than Belleville and also a higher ratio of first choice applications per place than Belleville.

Even if we use just 90 places for Belleville (as 2008 admission) then although the ratio of total applications per place is then greater at Belleville, Wix English stream still has a higher ratio of 1st choice applicants per place than Belleville

On of the reason why we can see such a demand (it was not even the case a year ago) is because it reflects the fact that Wix school has received international acclaim and transformed itself over recent years from a struggling school to one with a substantial waiting list and a good Ofsted report. We are not there yet as the English school is still under-performing, but the very recent bilingual class has proved itself in a remarkably short time (more than 5 times over-subscribed) and Wandsworth has received international recognition for its foresight and innovation in creating it.

While the model set by Wandsworth has now been adopted in several other Boroughs, it will send a wrong message that Wandsworth is not considering the new system seriously.

Moreover – as shown with the over-demand for the bilingual school – the level of application is directly linked to the quality of the school and excellent schools attract families and very high demand, while some parents without this choice will prefer to rely on private schools.

All those arguments show that this is less an issue with over-subscription in Northcote area, than a problem of lack of good schools in Shaftesbury ward.

Choice of school – a government enforcement

The fact is that parents in Shaftesbury are offered two average/good school (sub-standard to Wandsworth average) with Wix (improving indeed, and attracting also Lambeth children – about 25%) whilst parents living in between the common have access to two excellent schools (amongst the best in the borough) with twice the same capacity and still over subscribed.

It gives two possibilities to explain the situation: either there is no children in Shaftesbury and only people in Northcote has a kid population, or that many parents of Shaftesbury are forced to go private in order to reach the standard of education their wish for their children.

Parents will tend to choose the schools offering better academic (and other) opportunities for their children.

The School Admissions Code comes into force on 28 February. 2007, and sets the duties to increase opportunities for parental choice, respond to parental representations, and improve community cohesion. Thus, you can read p17 of the code:

1.8 Following commencement of the relevant provisions of the Education and Inspections Act 2006, local authorities will be required to promote fair access to educational opportunity, promote high standards and the fulfilment by every child of his educational potential, secure choice and diversity and respond to parental representations.

1.9 Section 13A of the Education Act 1996 (as inserted by Section 1 of the Education and Inspections Act 2006) requires local authorities to exercise their functions with a view to promoting the fulfilment by every child of his educational potential, and, in the case of local education authorities in England, with a view to ensuring fair access to educational opportunity, as well as with a view to promoting high standards.

1.10 Local authorities have a new statutory duty under section 14(3A) of the Education Act 1996 (as inserted by Section 2 of the Education and Inspections Act 2006) to secure diversity and increase opportunities for parental choice when planning the provision of school places.

1.11 In addition, local authorities must consider parental representations about the provision of schools in their areas and respond setting out any action which the authority proposes to take, or where the authority believes no action is necessary, their reasons behind that opinion.

Consultation

The Council feel that their already-suggested recommendation for a future consultation on admissions across several schools is an adequate response to current objections. But they say it is “too soon” to agree now on the wording of this. Apparently they miss the point that the huge objection was already to the admission proposal – that people had already spoken and they think a school, any school that local children cannot access is very unfair.

This should involve a discussion forum and open meetings with residents living on and around Forthbridge Road, (the consultation conducted with Belleville parents back in 2009 included this).

The Admissions Code itself sets out the conditions for any consultations on admissions.

All admission authorities are required to complete their consultation by 1 March, and determine their arrangements by the 15 April, in each calendar year for the following school year

[page 22 of the Admissions code]

Consultations must happen for at least 8 weeks between 1Nov10 and 1Mar11 in order to effect admissions policy for 2012! The ONLY education committee before 1Nov is on 21Sep10, therefore there is a urgent need to define the consultation wording and process.

Belleville extension: Objection to the Schools Adjudicator

Author: Ian Hamilton

A group of local residents and parents decided to make an objection to the Schools Adjudicator about the future admission arrangements to Belleville School, in particular to that of the Forthbridge Road school site. We made this objection on 30th July 2010, one day before the deadline for objections to 2011 admission arrangements.

We would like to make it very clear that some residents, those who are parents of children attending Wix School and formed part of the Deputation to the Council’s committee meeting have chosen not to be included in this formal objection. Amongst their concerns they are reluctant to cause too much additional work for any council officers with whom they would like to maintain positive working relationships re the future development of Wix School.

We, the members of the objecting group, understand and respect this decision and share the concern about extra work for council officers who have indeed been very helpful and professional.

The future wide-ranging admissions consultation promised by Wandsworth council for autumn 2010 can only impact admissions from 2012. In the light of recent media discussions on possible future changes to the Admissions Code and also ongoing concerns that Belleville Primary School has registered to receive information on Academy status, we feel we had little choice but to make a formal objection to the Adjudicator.

On 4th August an Adjudicator was appointed to determine our case and they take evidence from us and Wandsworth council. The school holidays may have a slowing effect on the process which normally takes around 6weeks to yield a determination.

Above-all we are very keen to respect the process of the Office of the Adjudicator and as such we feel it would be inappropriate at this stage for us to say post our full objection letter, but will aim to do so in future.

You will find other information about the school campaigns in the area in our pages, with a series about Belleville school extension published during this summer.