School Admissions Consultation - Belleville

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cynic
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School Admissions Consultation - Belleville

Postby cynic » Thu Nov 04, 2010 12:31 pm

Wandsworth council have launched their promised admission consultation
http://www.wandsworth.gov.uk/bsf/consultations

(Hopefully another post can discuss the Alderbrook expansion and this topic can stick with the Belleville proposals).
The end date is 1st Dec and a public meeting will be held at Belleville School at 630pm on Mon15 Nov

This new consultation is the council's response to the large number of objections made back in June to the proposal to use the school site on Forthbridge Rd as an expansion site for the Belleville School. The majority of the 479 objections were made then about the decision to still calculate admission distance from the Belleville School main site (some 1km away from the Forthbridge Rd site), even though the Forthbridge Rd site would in-effect be run like a separate One Form Entry school site. Despite the objections the council went ahead with the Belleville expansion, which will start using the Forthbridge site in 2011. As Belleville is such an oversubscribed school, even children who might live next door to the Forthbridge site will not qualify to attend it.
A future consultation was promised in July to address these concerns

SUMMARY OF NEW CONSULTATION
The council have made a specific proposal for either one or two Ordered Geographical Priority Areas (GPAs) for Belleville
The first GPA is south of Battersea Rise and centred around Belleville, the second is north and centred around the Forthbridge site
The council has encouraged respondees to support either one/both/no change in admissions (starting in 2012).
It is a complicated set-up in which the sibling admission rule is also adjusted, but with an exception is being suggested to the first GPA: If it is created in 2012 then any children with a sibling who was admitted to the school before this consultation process will still have priority provided they are still on the roll of the school i.e. this is why this the exception ends in 2017 (7years from now)

DECLARATION
I am a resident local to the Forthbridge site. I was involved in the previous campaign of objections as I feel strongly that local children should be able to access a school on their doorstep and the "annex" set-up just creates a school that is isolated from its local community. It doesn't seem that fair or in anyone's long term interests.
That said clearly pressure on school places is a real problem. I have been able to have discussions before on this forum in a polite, fair and reasonable manner and would like to again with anyone who is interested. I am particular interested in the views of current & would-be Belleville parents
monaco
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Re: School Admissions Consultation - Belleville

Postby monaco » Thu Nov 04, 2010 1:02 pm

I am a prospective Belleville parent and was made aware of this consultation yesterday at a Belleville open day; The Headmaster showed it to us and encouraged us to express our opinion. He indicated that the school was against this proposal of enabling a priority zone.

Interestingly enough, current Belleville parents had voted against the extension of Belleville on site, which would have been more logical (albeit more costly) and would have not created this issue with the Forthbridge site. I can certainly see how local parents near Forthbridge may now find the current admission policy unfair.

I voted against the new proposal for a priority zone, even though it will be operating only from 2012 and my daughter will start school in 2011, so therefore our family won't be affected by it .

I did it for my fellow neighbours and friends living south of Broomwood Road (the limit of the suggested priority zone).

The current limits (which the consultation doesn't allow you to challenge by the way) mean that people living south of Broomwood Road will now have nearly zero chance of getting into any of the state schools.

If Honeywell had also a priority zone that logically would extend south of Broomwood Road, then this would be fair as all streets would be covered. But Honeywell is not included in that consultation as the council doesn't regulate their admission policy.

The other non-faith related closest state school is Alderbrook and even with the proposed additional class, it is unlikely that the catchment area will extend up north enough to include that same area I mention above.

I do believe we can have a reasonable and considerate debate here. I am doubtful we'll come to an agreement as I can also see the point for the people living near the Forthbridge site.

Therefore, I would encourage everyone to vote on the consultation as I am hoping that a democratic solution will be found, based on as representative a sample of residents as possible.
Last edited by monaco on Thu Nov 04, 2010 1:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
2009Kat
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Re: School Admissions Consultation - Belleville

Postby 2009Kat » Thu Nov 04, 2010 1:24 pm

I am a prospective Belleville parent and as my child is still a baby, these proposals could affect us in the future. I am going to vote in favour of the geographical priority area since I live within it and so hopefully this would increase the chances of my children receiving places at the school. I appreciate that the Forthbridge issue is a difficult one to resolve in a fair way (and I have to say, I would not be best pleased if my children were offered places there due to our location) and in theory I would love a solution that was fair and enabled as many local children as possible to have an excellent state education, but at the end of the day I am going to support the course of action that would work best for us, however selfish that may seem.
monaco
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Re: School Admissions Consultation - Belleville

Postby monaco » Thu Nov 04, 2010 1:49 pm

@2009Kat don't worry, I think everyone will vote selfishly, that's human !
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cynic
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Re: School Admissions Consultation - Belleville

Postby cynic » Thu Nov 04, 2010 2:17 pm

Monaco,

I appreciate you can see how local parents near Forthbridge may now find the current admission policy unfair.

However I am sorry I really don't understand your argument about Broomwood Rd in voting against the proposal.
While I can appreciate that anyone living south of Broomwood Rd may have difficulty in getting into a state school, isn't that really about access to Honeywell?

Honeywell admission distance was 455m in 2008, 501m in 2009 and 440m in 2010. For Belleville it was 500m in 2008, 389m in 2009 before 30 temporary places meant it widened out to 876m and in 2010 with 120places it was 689m
Also Honeywell school is 350m walking distance south of Belleville School. The closest point of Broomwood Rd is about the same distance from Belleville school.
Given all these distance figures if you live south of Broomwood Rd then Honeywell is always going to be your closest school.
As one moves south there's a point on the map where you are still going to be offered a place at Honeywell, but you will now be too far from Belleville to be offered a place there.
Of course at some point even further south you may be too far away to even get offered a place at Honeywell and it sounds like this is what you are really objecting to - but I don't see how the proposals for a prority area at Belleville would effect this? Unless I am I missing something?

In fact I could go further and point out that these Belleville proposals will (eventually aim to) reduce sibling admission from those who have moved away, which could free-up more places for local residents. This in turn might actually free-up some places at Honeywell.

Please don't misunderstand me I am not in favour of these proposals I am just trying to understand your point.
cynic
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Re: School Admissions Consultation - Belleville

Postby cynic » Thu Nov 04, 2010 2:23 pm

Monaco,

it is very interesting to learn that the head of Belleville is against these proposals, thanks for that. Are they agains all of the proposals.
I would love to understand more as to why- if anyone else can shed any light.
As he is such a popular head it's hard to see them gaining much support, would you agree?
monaco
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Re: School Admissions Consultation - Belleville

Postby monaco » Thu Nov 04, 2010 2:26 pm

No offence taken.

It of course depends how far south of Broomwood Road you are. But there comes a time when you are too far for Honeywell but still close enough for Belleville due to the extra number of places there.

Honeywell is closer but has less places and their catchment area decreases year on year.Therefore, logically we would have more chances of getting a place at Belleville than in Honeywell.

I emailed the council and they told me that this year, we wouldn't have gotten into Honeywell, Wix or Alderbrook but would have just gotten into Belleville in September 2010.

You can see how having a second priority zone in the Forthbridge area would have completely ruined our chances of getting in. No place at all in four of the closest state schools.

Does it make sense ?
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cynic
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Re: School Admissions Consultation - Belleville

Postby cynic » Thu Nov 04, 2010 2:57 pm

Monaco,

thanks for explanation previously I was just doing simple sums:
Honeywell is 350m south of Belleville, Belleville admission distance 689m in 2010, Honeywell admission distance 440m in 2010
So say I live 430m south of honeywell then I would have got offered a place there but at approx 780m from Belleville I am too far for a place from there.

Two things may be going on to explain how you got offered a place at Belleville only

(i) walking distances depend on specific streets so can get more complicated than just adding distances! (my bad)
(ii) The 689m offers made distance I used for Belleville was from the council in July. I am pretty sure this distance actually increased after then as some people didnt take up their offers
(this happens every year but also I think some not happy with Forthbridge offers this year) Checking this in the new 2011 brochure (printed Aug) it says 710m so that shows the distance was increasing.

I think now Belleville expansion has happened I am sure this demand will settle down i.e. that Belleville distance will stay under 710m in the future so what occurred to you is I believe quite exceptional.

As for the second priority area at Forthbridge, that's been proposed in such a way that I doubt whether any children from that area would actually again any places!
monaco
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Re: School Admissions Consultation - Belleville

Postby monaco » Thu Nov 04, 2010 4:35 pm

Remember, I was not offered a place. The council just told me that this year, I potentially would have been able to get a place. My daugther only starts next year.

Distance in the brochure are the last one offered by the council but up until this year, Belleville and Honeywell managed their waiting list themselves which meant that they made offers to people on the waiting list after July and therefore the distance can be a bit bigger. People move out as well or don't show up.

Yes, distance calculation is not that straight forward. It depends on the shortest route so depending on where you are, the shortest route from your house to honeywell may be different from the one you take to go to Belleville.

The council told me that there may be less people applying to Belleville because they don't like the idea of Forthbridge but equally that more people will now they know that there is one extra class !

In any case, what I mean is that current system could still allow for this (even exceptional case) to happen whereas the new one will definitely completely run it out.

Question: for people living near Forthbridge, can they still easily get into other local state schools (ie Wix) that are not miles away ?
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MGMidget
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Re: School Admissions Consultation - Belleville

Postby MGMidget » Thu Nov 04, 2010 11:34 pm

I live south of Broomwood Rd. Historically, my immediate neighbours have got their children into either Honeywell or Belleville. However, historically (again) Belleville has tended to offer a place first and Honeywell later. So the area south of Broomwood Road has historically (for many years) had plenty of children attending Belleville School.

As the Belleville expansion was designed to address a shortage of places between the commons (expected to get worse owing to a baby boom), this result will not be achieved if the priority zones start to shift the Belleville intake in a more Northerly direction, cutting out part of the area that historically had an intake to Belleville. Yes, Honeywell is still an option for some, but the catchment area for that school is already tight, the school isn't increasing in size and the birth rate has gone up (as it has throughout Wandsworth and throughout London). Since people south of Broomwood Road will not have the option of a place at Belleville, the Honeywell offers will be snapped up as the only possibility. All these factors will shorten the maximum distance to which Honeywell offers are made.

The current distance to which offers are made is not 'as the crow flies' but walking distance on lit streets so it is already a tiny distance from the school. So there will be large areas between the commons that will not get offers from Honeywell, Belleville, Alderbroke or Wix, for example. With projected increases in reception pupil numbers all schools nearby will be full to bursting. Projected pupil numbers living in the area close to Vines school are lower and area seems to have more school provision already.

Meanwhile, there is a real problem developing in the between the commons area. It is not a situation of having two good state schools to chose from for many parents but of having no state school place within any reasonable distance by September. So this is what the council has been trying to resolve. Not sure how they will resolve it with the proposed primary and secondary priority areas.
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Re: School Admissions Consultation - Belleville

Postby jo faxx » Fri Nov 05, 2010 11:43 am

Hi All
Have to voice my view
Belleville is a great school and has worked very hard to assist with the growing problem of school places needed, it is unfair for the council to victimise the school.If there is to be a change in admission policy it must apply to all wandsworth schools not just one.Belleville will undoubtabley suffer if a no sibling rule applies only to them and not Honeywell and others. It should not be punished for its success.We need more places in the borough and this is the councils fault and they are making a hash of solving it.
My family is totally unaffected by this but i find the whole process damaging to what is an amazing school.
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Re: School Admissions Consultation - Belleville

Postby MGMidget » Fri Nov 05, 2010 12:38 pm

Good point Jo Faxx. If they carved out priority areas for several local schools near Belleville at the same time they might resolve lots of the anxiety. Dealing with Belleville in isolation will make the problem worse in some localities. However, I understand that some schools such as Honeywell (maybe Alderbrook as well) are Foundation schools where the governors decide the catchment area, not the council. Therefore, the council doesn't seem to be able to create a 'grand plan' for all the schools catchment areas.

Personally on the sibling situation, I quite understand that parents can't cope with several school runs if siblings are spread about. However, one of the problems with successful schools like Belleville is that a number of parents temporarily rent close to the school to secure a place for the oldest sibling, then move to whatever location they choose in the knowledge that all siblings are guaranteed a place in the school when they need it. As well as creating unnecessary pollution by driving kids to school, they are also depriving children living within a short walking distance of such schools from getting a place in their local school. Therefore, I can see that some method of stopping this should be considered.
cynic
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Re: School Admissions Consultation - Belleville

Postby cynic » Fri Nov 05, 2010 3:17 pm

Monaco,

Total applicants to Belleville increased to 512 in 2010 from 436 in 2009, but I too have heard anecdotal evidence of people being offered Forthbridge places but them turning them down

The first 90 places at Belleville in 2010 were offered only out to a distance of 353m (as of July)

You ask about Wix:
Wix is improving rapidly. Its bilingual stream is very oversubscribed, but its regular English language class is less popular and admitted children up to a distance of 1406m this year.
So this means yes lots of people who live near Forthbridge (600m from Wix) can easily get into Wix English language class, but this also means that many of children offered "the Forthbridge places" at Belleville also actually live close enough to Wix to get into it, but they didnt apply. I am not being facetious here at all, but its worth pointing out.
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Re: School Admissions Consultation - Belleville

Postby cynic » Fri Nov 05, 2010 3:28 pm

MGMidget

As I noted in a previous post admission distances to Honeywell have actually been pretty stable in recent years: 455m in 2008, 501m in 2009 and 444m in 2010

For Belleville it was 500m in 2008, 389m in 2009 before 30 temporary places meant it widened out to 876m and in 2010 with 120places it was 710m at end July (but as I stated above if there were only 90places still then 2010 it would have only been 353m)

Of course it's also worth remembering that Belleville hasn't always been such a popular school so even say 6years ago these distances probably looked quite different!

I do appreciate your points about walking distance and the fact that schools manage their own waiting lists, but isn't the real reason why any children who live south of Broomwood have been getting places at Belleville in the last two years just simply down to the expansion of 30places. In general as Honeywell is about 350m south of Belleville this will surely not be the case for long?

As you say the rising birth rate is creating problems for all good schools in the area and like you I heartily agree with JoFaxx's general point that you cannot change admissions policy at just one school
cynic
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Re: School Admissions Consultation - Belleville

Postby cynic » Fri Nov 05, 2010 3:46 pm

JoFaxx,

to clarify the change to sibling admission being suggested is not a "no-sibling rule" at all
At the moment siblings have priority admission over any children admitted by distance. Under these new proposals siblings would STILL have priority admission if they still lived in either of the priority areas.

In it's letter the council points out that last year 25 children were admitted to Belleville who would not have got in under the distance criteria.
That's nearly a whole class!
I can understand the convenience of having children at the same school and that if you move away from the area then of course any children you have at that school should remain there if you wish them to.
But if you move away why should additionally ALL your future possible children have the implicit right to attend that very over-subscribed school which you now do not live near, especially when people who do live very local to that school are struggling to get a place for their child?

(Please don't misunderstand me I am not in favour of these proposals I am just talking about sibling rules)

I do totally agree with you that if you are going to make this sibling rule change then you need to do it across ALL schools in the area
It's really disappointing the council have not chosen to do this as I actually think these sibling rule changes could be presented as a positive thing - they could strengthen the link between a school and it's local community, by ensuring parents consider living near the school for the longer term.
It's plain to see all good schools have strong link with their local communities, Belleville & Honeywell are a good examples of this.