Thursday 28 October 2010 12.27pm
Our daughter is currently at the Arc nursery. We're very happy with that situation, but next September she will need to start at Primary school. Let the bad times roll...
The nearest school by far (we're about 150 metres away) is the Cathedral School
in Redcross Way
. Given that it's got a good reputation, it's our first choice on the Southwark application. But there's a fly in the ointment.
The Cathedral School
also operate a nursery. A nursery we knew nothing about until it was too late to successfully apply for a place there (and we did apply, and we would have earlier if we had known about it). No issue with that - our fault I guess, although we did ask a number of parents and childcare professionals about nurseries in the area and this one never came up in conversation. We found out about the nursery after speaking to parents at the Arc who have
successfully applied for places at the Cathedral nursery. Now, the fact that your child attends a nursery linked to a primary school is supposed to have no bearing at all on whether they get into the primary school itself (at least for open places, which is what we'd be applying for). The criteria for open (i.e. non-religious based) places essentially boils down to (in this order of priority);
Children in authority care
Children with medical or social needs
Children with sibling(s) already on the school roll
Proximity of child's home to the school
At least three of the kids who have moved from the Arc to the Cathedral nursery (and another one who will move in January) would come after ours in the, er, 'pecking order' if the above criteria were properly applied (based solely on the fourth criteria since the other three aren't met by any of the children and they all live quite a bit further away).
Yet it seems their parent are pretty confident that they're already ‘home and dry', and it seems with good reason. In the last few years, the number of open places in the Primary school being filled by children already at the nursery has been, let's say, beyond coincidence. We asked the school what last year's figure was - the answer was 24 out of 26 places. Blimey - only 2 places up for grabs if you weren't already in the club! But no, it gets worse. This figure was immediately corrected ‘actually, the other two successfully appealed'. So, if last year's admission was to be repeated this year we'd be scuppered. The conversation itself was quite surreal - the person we spoke to at the school seemed taken aback that we might suggest that there was any link between the two parts of the school, before and even after she'd just explained the 100% hit rate. We've heard anecdotally that in fact this link used to be one of the admission criteria until there were lots of complaints about it. I can see why - in effect this Primary School has become pretty much wholly self-selecting, since it decides which children come to the nursery, whereas it's supposed to be the council's job to apportion primary school places.
I don't want to dwell on the worry about and consequences of this potential knock-back, but would like any comments, ideally ones that abuse us of our notion.