Lewisham scores below average for primary school places

This week, 75.36% of Lewisham children were offered a place at their first-choice primary school in the borough, below the London borough average of 78.72%.

The figures were collated by the Pan London Admissions Board.


Sally said...

The whole idea of "first choice" is a bit misleading really. Unless it's changed in the last two years, in Lewisham you put 4 schools down. You're asked to rank them so that IF there's a place at more than one of the schools for your child, then Lewisham knows which school to offer you. The schools themselves can't take your preferences into account so why would anyone expect the first choice to be a particularly high number? A more meaningful number would be how many get into one of the four choices you make.

Having said that, I hope it's not been as bad this year as it was two years ago when my daughter was initally offered a place at a school two miles away (Rathfern) even though we'd put four very local schools on our list. There were over 50 primary schools closer to us than Rathfern but no place at any of them in the initial allocations.

Mondee said...

Yes it is misleading. They are not choices, they are preferences. In reality, there is no choice. You get offered one place at one school, which may or may not be on your list. You can then play the waiting list game if you are so inclined.
Probably about 50% of that 75% are siblings, of course, so first-time school applicants have a much lower chance of getting their first choice.
It's not ideal, but I'm not sure how it could be made better.

Anonymous said...

I guess if people keep having children at the rate they are doing, there will be fewer and fewer children each year being offered one of their preferences.

kolp said...

Make all schools good schools, so that kids just go to the local school.

THNick said...

Sally - about 94% got places at one of their 6 choices. I'm not sure how meaningful that is either, since presumably a lot of people pad their list with schools they'd rather not send their kids to.
Kolp - and then cure cancer, bring about world peace and tell england to play better so they win the world cup?

Anonymous said...

Kolp, over 85% of Lewisham primary schools are good...

Anonymous said...

So 15%, more than one in seven, aren't good. What spin is all about.

The really unfortunate thing with a school's reputation is that, good or bad, it becomes self-endorsing, a vicious or unfairly beneficant spiral.

Anonymous said...

that's a very simplistic way of looking at it... it could mean that the 15% that aren't good are receiving extra support from the local authority to raise standards etc, it could mean that at the last ofsted there was an underperforming headteacher who has now left and the school is in transistion to being 'good' etc etc.
And I disagree about reputation becoming a self endorsing spiral, schools do and can change their reputations and their achievements for the better - see Prendergast Ladywell Fields as an example

Brockley Nick said...

I agree with you that schools can and do change, but your example is a strange choice, given that it went through a name change to give it a fresh start.

kolp said...

Absolutely! THINK big THNICK...

It's a sad indictment on the current state of affairs that someone would equate the widespread provision of good schools as akin to achieving the impossible.

Anonymous said...

Mine didn't get into any local school, let alone one within walking distance! So much for choice and avoiding the use of cars.

Anonymous said...

Nick, the name change was a tiny part of the change in the school, lots of local people still refer to it as 'the old Crofton school'. I tried to think of an example of a school that had improved and NOT changed its name but couldn't... apparently it's the thing to do at the moment (see Brockley Primary to Beecroft, Catford High to Conisborough College, Northbrook to Trinity etc)
Kolp - "It's a sad indictment on the current state of affairs that someone would equate the widespread provision of good schools as akin to achieving the impossible."
I'm assuming you were referring to the fact that 85% of Lewisham schools are counted as good? That was a fact, not an opinion that it was ok, but maybe not as bad as some make it out to be... You obviously have no idea about why people go into education in general. Nobody working in schools or for the local authority education dept. is in it for any other reason apart from to try and improve the quality of education provided to children. It's certainly not for the money!

Brockley Nick said...

Yes, the name change has to go hand-in-hand with real fundamental change otherwise it won't work, but nonetheless changing a name to distance the school from the stigmas attached to the old regime is seen as a pretty important part of the reputational redemption, which is why it's hard to think of any school which hasn't done it.

That's just good PR. Make real positive change and then find a way to tell your story - the name change is one of the most important ways you can send a signal that something more profound has changed.

Brockley Nick said...

PS - is this Kolp demanding better local schools the same Kolp criticising me for wanting better local high streets? Kolp, why do you hate Brockley?!!

Sally said...

One other interesting statistic would be the number of children that actually start school in their parents' preferred school (or one of them) -- i.e., to reflect the situation once waiting lists have been worked through and parents have accepted / rejected places.

We must have been in a particularly unsweet spot two years ago to be offered something SO far away, but our daughter eventually started reception in our first choice school (we were initially 10th on the waiting list for a two-form entry school).

This is an area with a highly mobile population so if you're reading this not having had the outcome you wanted don't despair -- stay on the waiting lists and the chances are that you'll get one of your choices.

I agree that all local schools should be good schools but that doesn't address where we found ourselves 2 years ago. ALL children should be able to be offered a place at a local school in the first place, not one which is miles away. The system has no slack in it currently, with Lewisham short of hundreds of places for children in primary schools and having to resort to short-term measures such as bulge classes which just exacerbate problems further down the line.

Anonymous said...

Meanwhile the Council cuts the budget for education, and doubles the budget for housing to £600m+...

Lou Baker said...

The best statistic of all would be percentage of parents who got their child into the school of their preference.
That figure would be dire.

It is perfectly evident to all that the statistics are completely warped. 85% of Lewisham primary schools are not good. Most schools in Lewisham are pretty poor - with children much less likely to get good outcomes than in many other areas.

There are several reasons for this. Poor teaching is one. The exceptionally large number of non-English speakers - and the wide variety of languages they speak is another. Low aspirations is another. As is low expectations. Lewisham kids aren't expected to do well - so many don't. And then there's the biggest cause of all - poor parenting.

We need to rethink the whole education system.
Bits of it need starting earlier - other bits much later. We need to reintroduce selective education for all so kids learn at the right pace for them. And this means taking head on the unions who for too long have allowed poor teachers and poor teaching methods to flourish - at the expense of our children.

Daily Mail Wet Dream said...

Lou knows EVERYTHNG. Literally. We should make him in charge of both stuff AND things.

Family Guy said...

@Daily Mail Wet Dream - There is a lot of truth in what Lou says. The schools in the area are poor and the children are all too often let down by their parents. The term "Baby Father" usually means absent Father. These people are totally selfish and irresponsible and their children suffer as a result.

Mondee said...

I do think Lou is vilified just because he's Lou Baker sometimes. Yes, his tone is inflammatory but there is sometimes truth behind what he says.
Our education system IS mediocre, at best, overall. The figures released a few months ago show that a third of 11 year olds are not meeting the expected level in the 3Rs - and the expected level is really not that high. 1 in 10 boys leave primary school with a reading age of 7. While of course academic achievement is not everything, the fundamentals of reading, writing and basic maths are another matter.
Every now and again some expert or government official comes back from another European country and says 'look! They don't start school till they're 7 and yet their literacy levels at 11 are much higher than ours! Maybe we can learn something from their system!' and then nothing really changes.
And we all seem quite happy to accept this mediocrity, perhaps because the sharp-elbowed among us are confident that our children will be in the two-thirds who reach the required level because we have books in our houses and we read to them and talk to them, or perhaps we know that we will be able to afford a bit of private tuition if our child falls behind. That's all very well, and high achievers will usually always do well, whether they're in a good or bad school, but it's the people languishing at the bottom of the pack that we need to look at.
58% of children on free school meals or in care reach the required standard in English and Maths, whereas the percentage for 'the others' was 78%.
The system we have is very inflexible and doesn't really cater to different styles of learning, especially more kinesthetic learning, which suits boys better. I recently went to a talk about boys starting Reception, and how they are behind girls on 11 out of the 13 markers by the time they get to primary school and never really catch up (obviously we are talking generally, statistically here). But what was addressed in this talk was 'here are ways of shoehorning your boys into the system; ways of trying to train them to fit in' rather than talking about how the education system is letting them down and could be altered to suit them and their needs.

Anonymous said...

Agree with much you say except "and high achievers will usually always do well, whether they're in a good or bad school, but it's the people languishing at the bottom of the pack that we need to look at"

Yes they will do well but nowhere near as well as if they are taught well in an environment of their peers. We need bright people and the way the school system treats them is far more a scandal that the way it treats any others.

Stato said...

"The best statistic of all would be percentage of parents who got their child into the school of their preference.
That figure would be dire."

I don't understand. That IS what the 75.36% first choice statistic represents.

Mondee said...

@Anon 9.50, granted, peers are a big part of it but you only need two or three bright children in a class to spur each other on. And if those high achievers have supportive parents who encourage and enhance their learning, they will succeed.

kay.johnston7 said...

Kayj said

Diaspora High School will offer 50 Reception places for boys every year from next year. A drop on the ocean since there will be 560 primary places short in Lewisham next year. By the way, our application has been approved to the interview stage with the DfE on 10th May. Please see our website www.diasporahighschool.co.uk for details and if you haven't got a place for your child yet, please register your interest via email at free@diasporahighschool.co.uk. You've nothing to lose and everything to gain!

Brockmum said...

Hi Kayj,

As the parent of a boy coming up to school age, I'm very interested in your proposal.

Can I ask:

Where will you be situated?
What will your selection criteria be?
What relevant experience do the founders and others involved have?

Thanks very much (and sorry if I've missed some of this on the website...)

jonathon said...

The greatest decline in education has ocurred in the home.

kay.johnston7 said...

Kayj wrote

Dear Brockmum,

We have identified two sites in Lewisham; one on Rushey Green and the other in Lee, just off the high road. However, we were told by the DfE that they would sort out the building so at this point I am not sure which they will choose, if any. Neither of these buildings are owned by the Council so I do not anticipate any problems procuring either of them.

As for our experience, I have been in education for 33 years, with the last 10 at senior level. I am primary and secondary trained. I was part of the 'Moving On' team in Croydon who devised a procedure which eased the transition between Years 6 and 7. In addition, I have extensive experience in whole school responsibilities, Inclusion, literacy, attendance and behaviour and have gone into schools to put procedures in place to make their management easier. I am used to working with multi agencies for children's benefit and have mentored children and parents over the years successfully.

The rest of my team are also highly experienced. We have a head teacher of an outstanding boys' school, a senior lecturer and Director of Admissions from Cambridge University, a Head of Maths whose department leads the school in its results, a School Manager with 21 years' experience, a Life Skills coach, two financial experts used to handling multi-million pound budgets at Local Authority and central government levels, a school counsellor, an entrepreneur, a deputy head teacher as well as the local vicar on the governing body.

Our selection criteria is quite simple. We have no catchment area. Any parent who requires a place at Diaspora High School for their child will get one. Also, priority will be given to children with statements of SEN and those in care of the Local Authority. We will have a sibling policy which also extends to half-siblings and step-siblings, provided they are all boys of course. Those who live in close proximity to the school or within a radius of five miles will be considered. I hope this answers your queries. I will check this blog to see if you have any more.

Tressilliana said...

What happens if you're oversubscribed?

kay.johnston7 said...

Kayj wrote

@Tressiliana - if we are over-subscribed, children will be put on a waiting list. Again, priority will be given to those with statements of SEN , in care or have siblings in the school. We will use fair banding and random lottery to select the rest to ensure that we have a balanced intake and no child has a disproportionately long journey to school.

Brockmum said...

Thanks, KayJ.

As you won't be Ofsted-ed (?), how will you be accountable to parents? What feedback on your own child's progress and on (e.g.) disciplinary and pastoral school issues will be provided, and how?

I'm also interested to know: why did you decide to set up a free school?

And do you have a sense of when your location will be decided?


Tressilliana said...

Thanks for answering my question, Kay, and sorry for this very delayed response to your reply. However, you started by saying 'Any parent who requires a place at Diaspora High School for their child will get one.' You've now said that if you are oversubscribed (and you will be, every state school in London is oversubscribed because parents make multiple applications):

'children will be put on a waiting list. Again, priority will be given to those with statements of SEN , in care or have siblings in the school. We will use fair banding and random lottery to select the rest to ensure that we have a balanced intake and no child has a disproportionately long journey to school.'

That's a bit different from saying every child who needs a place will get one, isn't it? The former statement sounds a bit naive, to be honest. Doesn't make your plan sound as credible as you might like.

Brockmum said...

Yes, I have to say that thought struck me too! Admission policy is essential and key to the ethos of a school. Could you expand a little on how exactly you will apply yours? Thanks.

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