Belleville expansion plans

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cynic
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Re: Belleville expansion plans

Postby cynic » Mon Jul 05, 2010 1:35 pm

Yes they voted it thru on Thursday night despite the first deputation to that committee in over five years and yes despite 469 objections.

Only two councillors voted against it, tho several expressed concerns such as the new site would be a school "isolated from its catchment and local community."
There's a new future consultation planned which is seen as the council's response for us. We feel that is inadequate and this is just first step in our campaign to gain access to that site for local children.

I can let anyone interested have our press release if they contact me directly
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Fitzov
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Re: Belleville expansion plans

Postby Fitzov » Mon Jul 05, 2010 1:43 pm

Yes. Go to www.cjag.org, the website of the Clapham Junction Action Group who post regular news of issues affecting our area. There are several articles charting the latest developments together with views from the Forthbridge community who feel quite justly most aggreived by the decision.

The upshot is that the expansion will go ahead, and that any consultation on the controversial admissions policy will have to wait until 2012 when there will be a reveiw of admission policies affecting several local schools.

Fitzov
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mumble
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Re: Belleville expansion plans

Postby mumble » Mon Jul 05, 2010 2:40 pm

Love the fact that there were about 33 people in favour (roughly 1 primary school class how funny) and 400+ against and it went through nice to see democracy in action!

Wandsworth councils non-response to the objections re creating places for children BTC totally fails to deal with the reason behind all the objections, 30 more school places is 30 more school places if children from area A suddenly all apply to a school to the North clearly it will create less competition for places in the school to the South for children from area B C and D!
There is an equally large if not larger demand for school places in Balham but I don't see Wandsworth council ring fencing places in the chi chi schools for them still bung another couple of hundred thousand on your house asking price and you might just get there :shock:

What's needed now is for those who object to write to the MP (I bet they will get short shrift) DOE same however there is an authority changes to admission arrangements have to go through surely an objection there has to follow.
Also all those living nr Forthbridge Road as their children hit school age should apply and mount an appeal when they fail to get a place one ground is the duty on LA to minimise driving to school or some such I'm sure there will be more.
They wont win the LA is judge jury and executioner but the council hates appeals it's expensive and time consuming.....

However the thing that remains to be explained is quite why people feel the council needs to buy votes BTC?
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herogirl
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Re: Belleville expansion plans

Postby herogirl » Tue Jul 06, 2010 10:31 am

Mumble, nice to see some support for those of us who live near the Forthbridge site. See Fiona Millar's blog on www.thetruthaboutourschools.com

Do you know any more about the steps local council's have to go to to change admission policies? Suspect the reason this is set up as annex is in order to avoid this but it is a thinly veiled attempt at best. Wix school is even more over subscribed than Belleville yet they were ignored, see their website too! It is interesting to note that this all happened after the council elections and the seats were won. I suppose those in Shaftsbury ward and hoping it all dies down before the next election but suspect it will not and they will have to kiss goodbye to their seats!

I have written to the local MP and also to Gove but as you say, nothing back. Martin Linton, the former MP was against this action but I imagine Jane Ellison, the new incumbent (and also a governor at Honeywell) will not be causing any trouble for her BTC voters.

Please post at will on Fiona's website to see if we can get some national action against this local injustice.
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cynic
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Re: Belleville expansion plans

Postby cynic » Tue Jul 06, 2010 3:02 pm

Fiona Millar talks about about "rival groups of parents" actually.
It's not a phrase I am happy with.
I think there is a good case to be made that at least some of the admission to the Forthbridge site should come from local children. I think it will make the site part of the local community rather than it just becoming an isolated "annexe" that will end-up being resented by those living near it after a year of building work and then even more for dramatically increasing traffic around it.
I think ALL good schools share a strong connection to their local community. Belleville itself is an outstanding school and a stunning example of such.
I want to present this argument to current and future parents of Belleville and discuss it with them. I hope they will listen and would love to hear their views on it too.
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herogirl
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Re: Belleville expansion plans

Postby herogirl » Wed Jul 07, 2010 4:54 pm

The office of the Schools Adjudicator can hear an objection on admission, see their site. Objections by parents who fear they will be disadvantaged by the Belleville expansion plans must be made by 31 July for 2011 admissions.See the site for the very specific type of objection that can be made and who can make it. If anyone out there has a child 2 or over then they might like to have a look at this. Wix is even more over subscribed than Belleville so not everyone near Wix will get a place and they don't get a look in of course with the current council plans. There is a consultation due to take place in the autumn and the council has promised to look at this again due to the objections but that will only be for 2012 if it happens at all. It is a little dull going through the site but if it helps you at all, have a go.
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harrysfather
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Re: Belleville expansion plans

Postby harrysfather » Thu Jul 08, 2010 11:12 am

Not specifically about Belleville, but about BSF in Wandsworth:

http://www.wandsworth.gov.uk/legacy/new ... sp?id=7100
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KatherineHepburn
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Re: Belleville expansion plans

Postby KatherineHepburn » Thu Jul 08, 2010 2:59 pm

Out of interest, how come the expansion didn't take place on-site in the first place?
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custardy
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Re: Belleville expansion plans

Postby custardy » Thu Jul 08, 2010 7:16 pm

Katherine Hepburn - that would be because the current parents at Belleville shouted it down....

So those of us who live 500m away from Belleville can't get in because of those parents. Now the parents who live near Forthbridge (and therefore near Wix, Shaftesbury Park and Macaulay) would like to deny our children a place at our local school. They all want choice, but I can put up with High View, which is a) not as good and b) much further away than our 5 other nearest schools (including Wix and Shaftesbury).

Choice for some but not for all seems to be the rallying call here. Further fuelled by outrage at "missing out" on the chance to increase the price of the properties nearer to Forthbridge, which was a key point put across on posters around the Forthbridge area. Self-interest reigns supreme across the borough, not just BTC.
Last edited by custardy on Thu Jul 08, 2010 8:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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cynic
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Re: Belleville expansion plans

Postby cynic » Thu Jul 08, 2010 8:06 pm

Custardy,

You are indeed correct that there was a feasiblity-study-approved proposal to expand Belleville purely onsite that was rejected largely by current parents of Belleville. (The majority of Governors were initially in favour of the plan before the parents made their position clear! oops!)

I would say the sad thing is that the problem and underlying reasons for oversubscribed demand at Belleville (max admission distance 500m in 2008; 383m in 2009 and that's with 30 temporary pupils; even less this year?) hasn't been really addressed AT ALL by any of these expansion plans either the rejected onsite or this current unfair plan for Forthbridge Road.

Forthbridge Road & nearby residents (similarly to you and your example) are simply being told "there's places at Shaftesbury Park and High View". .

You live 500m from Belleville and I can understand how compared to a few years ago the idea of not getting-in from that distance feels very unfair.
Very soon some people are going to live about 5 metres from the "Belleville Annexe" on Forthbridge Rd and won't have any hope of their kids ever using it. Does that not feel unfair too?

I saw 4 homemade flyers in this area protesting about the Belleville expansion into Forthbridge. Only one of those mentioned house prices and it did not seem to be widely distributed.
Those of us involved in the campaign (who collected a petition and made the deputation to the Council's Education committee) had nothing to do with that flyer, nor would we want to.

We feel there is a good case to be made that at least some (if sadly not all) of the admission to the Forthbridge site should come from local children.
The current "annex" is unprecedented and will only end-up creating a school isolated from it's local community (apart from the possible resentment of 12months of building work and then the extra traffic).

All good schools actually have a healthy connection to their local community, Belleville itself is a great example of this.

Rather than setting one "group" against another, I would say we are really not your enemy on this at all. I would really love to talk to more Belleville and would-be Belleville parents about this
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custardy
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Re: Belleville expansion plans

Postby custardy » Thu Jul 08, 2010 8:39 pm

cynic, thank you for your sensible and measured post.

I do see where the Forthbridge parents are coming from. It's just that the whole point of the expansion of Belleville is to address the fact that children whose local school this should be simply have no chance of getting in there, or to Honeywell or Wix... The council is under a statutory duty to allow pupils to attend a local school I believe - local in the context that is, so around here we are talking about metres not miles.

As a long term resident who bought a house with vague thoughts of future children and an understanding that there was a perfectly ok (it was only ok then, Belleville hasn't always been great!) school on our doorstep, you are right to empathise that it is horrible to be pushed further and further out of what I thought was my community, and see that my child may not get the opportunity to be part of his local community, to have friends from whom he lives a stone's throw, who he could bump into on the street and visit at each other's homes easily. To now see more opposing interests pushing us out from the other direction makes me wonder what place there is for us here in this lovely part of London at all.

It is horrible to think that as a parent whose child will probably be going to Belleville/Forthbridge rd in 2011 there could be a mass of seething resentment to deal with everytime we walk down the road and in through the gates. I hate the Millar spin of rival parents, it helps no-one and fosters resentment and anger.

I agree totally that there are bigger problems here and a much more fundamental review should be undertaken and solution needs to be found. But whatever happens, it isn't going to be quick enough to solve this in the short term.

To play devil's advocate, one solution would be to use the Bolingbroke site for a new primary school ... as there are places in the borough for secondary school children, not local admittedly, but then children of this age are much more able to travel independently. But perhaps that's a whole can of worms best not opened!
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cynic
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Re: Belleville expansion plans

Postby cynic » Fri Jul 09, 2010 12:00 pm

Custardy

I think it is very nice to have a reasonable and sensible conversation about this issue.
I had already commented on Fiona Miller's website that "rival groups of parents" is not the way we would like to paint where things are now, so I very much agree with you that such caricature helps no one

On your points:
Yes councils have a statutory duty to provide a local school but it is my understanding that in this statutory context "local" means within 2miles walking distance for children under eight (it's further for older children).
(Hence why empty places at High View and Shaftesbury Park are being suggested to all)

So on one hand the council maybe deserve some credit for over time working to try to exceed that statutory minimum, although the opposing observation might be to note that several primary schools were closed in the recent past and their sites sold to developers which now looks like a disastrously short-term decision.
(The council had a plan to sell-off the Forthbridge site since 2005 at least)
For me that's far too political a point to bang on about, I think "we are where we are" is a much better starting point.


Also please be assured that while many are still very motivated and continue to campaign for local access, no one I know who lives near the Forthbridge site will display "seething resentment" in front of any school children! We are all reasonable people and many are parents too, indeed two of the biggest points our deputation made were
(i) that most local people wanted the site to continue in school-use and (ii) we understood some children have already been promised Forthbridge Rd places for 2010 and we in no way wanted our objection to adversely affect any children's education.
(One practical suggestion - perhaps "Annexe" parents could be actively encouraged NOT to drive their children to school, how about a "walking bus" would that be practicable? There's already a school crossing patrol officer - can you still say lollipop man?- closeby on the Northside)

You are also very correct to note that Belleville has not always been such a good school and I agree other solutions need to be considered.
At the Education Committee meeting on Thurs 1st July a future consultation on admissions policy to local schools was promised for the autumn.
This was the only concession we received to all our local objections (479 vs just 35 in support)
This has been pitched as a way to look at admissions to all schools in the area: Alderbrook, Wix, Belleville & Honeywell are all mentioned including a specific mention of the Forthbridge site.

We want to make sure this consultation actually happens and it could also address other issues about admissions, would you (or anyone else) have any suggestions?
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hazel15malwood
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Re: Belleville expansion plans

Postby hazel15malwood » Fri Jul 09, 2010 1:47 pm

Re the admissions consultation:
I think one of the biggest issues that needs to be addressed during this consultation is the automatic offer of places to siblings who live way beyond the 'catchment area' of the schools in question.
If families who live in Balham, Tooting and as far afield as Croydon (in one case I've heard of) weren't entitled to sibling places in schools BTC then it might go some way to relieving the pressure on places. It might also go some way to removing the incentive for families to use 'temporary' addresses to secure places and then moving back to their 'permanent' abode.
One proposal is that priority catchment areas could be applied around the schools concerned, the idea being that as long as you live within that area, siblings get priority, but outside of it they have to apply for places and be assessed on distance criteria in exactly the same way as everybody else.
I don't know how any of this could affect the Forthbridge Road admission criteria and allow access to local families. Has the council given any indication?
Let me also make the point that while my daughter has been offered a place at the Forthbridge site, given the choice, I would much rather she is schooled at one of our truly local schools (ie Belleville main site or Honeywell), but as existing parents of Belleville vetoed the on-site expansion plans and we live a massive 511 metres away from our nearest school, it's our only option of a school place.
I absolutely empathise with the parents around Forthbridge who feel the whole issue is unfair - it undoubtedly is. But parents like me BTC need school places as much as anyone near Forthbridge and we have no other option - real choice would be a great thing but in reality we have none.
Just out of interest, does anyone know whether Forthbridge Road families get into Wix?
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cynic
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Re: Belleville expansion plans

Postby cynic » Fri Jul 09, 2010 3:06 pm

Hazel15malwood,

I was just about to bring up that up as I have heard many people talking about "the sibling rule". I was typing this:
Siblings of current pupils have priority into the same school and this is obviously a very sensible and practical thing for parents.
At Belleville currently this sibling priority is still valid even if you move well away from the local area - once you have got one child in, you could move 30miles away if you wanted to and still get all future siblings in!
Now some other schools in Wandsworth have a slightly different set-up:
Siblings of current pupils still have priority but only if they still live local to the school. If they move away they lose that priority and take their place in the list behind other children placed on distance
I am a non-parent, so maybe I don't know what I am talking about, but the second set-up seems fairer to me?
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cynic
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Re: Belleville expansion plans

Postby cynic » Fri Jul 09, 2010 3:27 pm

In the same way you are being pointed to High View instead of Belleville, residents near here are pointed to Shaftesbury Park instead of Wix. Neither represents "choice".

Just fyi: at the Education Committee meeting on 1st July the council officers stated that there are currently 10 empty reception 2010 places at High View and 5 empty reception 2010 places at Shaftesbury Park.
It it my understanding that both schools have 25% vacancies overall (so mostly higher up the school). This is the level at which central govt gets concerned and, though I hate the term, the phrase "failing school" is used.

Demand for Wix has exploded in the last year, so it's not yet clear if Forthbridge Rd residents would get access in this year. Let me try to find out and get back to you.

It is possible for a school to have two geographical priority areas e.g. Beatrix Potter school has this.

Also within the Borough there is also a faith school St Michaels which has a priority area around it. Two-thirds of the places are faith based (after siblings in the area) and one-third of the places are kept open for those local to the site by distance (after siblings in the area)
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