NEWS

Pupils stranded by schools postcode lottery

17 Mar , 2009  

By

Dozens of children are being left without a secondary school place, despite the council spending hundreds of millions on improving secondary school opportunities in the borough.

Figures obtained by the Hackney Post show that 150 children living in Hackney did not get a place at any state secondary school last year.

Parents say secondary school entry remains a postcode lottery, with many still going to extremes to get their children into the best schools.

One Stoke Newington parent, who preferred not to give her name, said: “A woman I know had a lovely big house in Clapton, but she moved her family into a rented flat above a shabby parade of shops just to qualify for Stoke Newington School.”

3344678320_9a272d253f_bThe best performing schools remain heavily oversubscribed, particularly the new academies, some of which are receiving seven times as many applications as they have places available.

Last year Mossbourne Community Academy received 1425 applications for just 188 places. Stoke Newington School last year received 862 applications for its 240 places.

The least popular school was the Yesodey Hatorah Jewish Orthodox girls’ school, which received four applications fewer than it had places.

Hackney has spent £170m building five new academies in as many years, as well as £167m refurbishing existing secondary schools.

Tim Schultz of the Hackney Learning Trust said: “It is difficult when children don’t get a school place, but not being offered a place does not mean that child is not going to get an education.

“We try and administer the system as professionally as possible and give parents as much support as we possibly can.

“We have built four new secondary schools in as many years. That’s not an answer for the parent whose child needs a place today, but it is a direct attempt to meet parental demand.”

Schultz added that there will be an extra 224 year seven places available in the borough this September to meet the demand.

Case Study: “You don’t expect to be told there is no secondary school place for your child”

Last year, Caroline Ryan’s daughter Katie, 11, did not get a place at any of the borough’s secondary schools. Katie, who lives in Stoke Newington, has since started at La Sainte Union, an all-girls catholic school in the neighbouring borough of Camden.

“Despite living in Hackney, we’re not actually in the catchment area for any secondary school. We lived closer to Stoke Newington School than any other, but it really is the only good school in this area, so it is completely oversubscribed. Katie didn’t get in, even though a friend of hers, who actually lives further away than us, got a place.

“When you contribute to your borough for all those years, you don’t expect to be told there is no secondary school place for your child. But Katie didn’t get a place at any Hackney school. We were then told she couldn’t go to La Sainte Union either, because the government was forcing them to change their selection criteria. They said we lived three minutes too far away. We then went through an appeals process.

“Between March and June last year, Katie didn’t have a place at any secondary school. It was difficult for her. I think Hackney is trying its best, but it completely messed up with Katie. I was annoyed that I didn’t really have another choice. Ideally, I wanted her to go to a single sex girls’ school but it wasn’t really an option nearby. We had something to fall back on by going down the Catholic route, but a lot of people don’t have that.

“The main problem is that there are so few schools. In Katie’s class, I think at least 60% of the kids went to secondary schools outside of the borough. That is the case every year. Hackney kids need to travel long distances to get a better education. You see them going in all sorts of different directions because locally they have no choice.”

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6 Responses

  1. Sharon says:

    Enter text right here!
    I have all of this to come and I am absolutely terrified. My daugher will be moving in Sept 2010. Apart from joining the masses trying for Laytmer, I just don't know to order my other choices and am scared that if I put them in the wrong order, we won't get anything! I'm in Hackney, but right on the borders of Islington & Harringey and I can't work out if that is good or bad. Any advice?

  2. Amjad says:

    The government too should focus on problem like this. Children should be brought up in good educational environment, the better treatment they get in early stages the better will be their future and the parents

  3. hattsie says:

    Write your comment here…

  4. hattsie says:

    Write your comment here…

  5. hattsie says:

    I'm a parent who's children didn't get a secondary school place and i will not be sending my children out of the borough, i have lived in hackney all of my life and i am so sad that my children did not get a place. i fill the way they have worked out the banding, cats test and so on is all wrong. i live near the Hackney Marches and my nearest non church school was the City even Hackney free is further for me but my children still didn't get a school. its not fair. i know families who have a better choice of all of the academy or decent schools because of where there live, your guaranteed a place no matter what why didn't any one consider the families that live a bit further out but still in Hackney. i am so upset.

  6. rick says:

    As a parent who's child is going to a hackney secondary school in september i suppose we can be reagarded as being one of the lucky ones and we certainly know how stressful the whole application/transfer procedure can be. That said, i seem to remember it being made very clear prior to school splication that there werent enough school places in hackney for all the pupils and thats not going to suddenly change. With the general level of secondary schools in hackney improving fewer kids will be sent out of the borough so things may get worse before they get better. We cant be surprised or shocked that there arent enough places for the boroughs kids in the boroughs school because there never has been! Its just that in the past a huge proportion of kids left the borough. As for the idea that amademies are high performing school this is something of an illusion, with the exception of Mossbourne , no other acamdemies in hackney have had their SATS let alone the GCSEs so its impossible to say how they are performing. Brand new shiney schools do not guarentee success. I'd suggest people take a look Clapton Girls for an example of a succesful, school quietly going about their business and gradually improving.

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