Back to school (update)

After my post yesterday about the difficulty of getting a primary school place in London, I have learned the following from the ITV News:

  • 800 children in the capital still have no primary school place as of today
  • 10,000 applications were turned in late to the local council for the school year
  • 6,000 more children applied for a reception place (equivalent to kindergarten) than the year before, bringing the total number of children needing a school place for their first year to 100,000
  • the shortage of school places in London (primary and secondary) will rise to 90,000 by 2016. The cost to meet the demand will be about £2.3bn in four years

In the news segment, one local council official blames the government for not giving them the money they need to build more facilities to meet the demands. The councils claim they are doing what they can with the money at their disposal. The government probably has a different view, not aired in the program.

These are the big headlines. But beneath these big headlines are people like me, who only want to find a decent local school for their child. Yesterday I blogged about how I didn’t get any of my preferred local schools (there were five of them), so I’ve been given a school a fair distance away with a below-par reputation.

Yesterday someone finally calls me back from this school – the one I didn’t even list on my application form – to ask me why I had been leaving messages for them. I explained the situation for the third time.

Turns out that the staff haven’t been around to deal with any of the potential admin problems that arose over the summer because they’ve been on break. No surprise there. What’s surprising is that they literally don’t return until the day before the new term starts.

The woman was very nice on the phone, but knew nothing about my child, didn’t even know the local council had offered us a place and was wading through ‘hundreds of emails’ to see if she could find something about it.

‘Oh yes, here we go, I think I found an email from someone at the council telling me about your child,’ she informs me after five minutes.

Why is the local council sending emails to people who aren’t around to deal with the problem? They clearly sent the email and washed their hands of it. The council – in this case Haringey – should take responsibility for this until people at the school can pick it up, preferably not the day before the new school term.  The lack of communication is incredulous. It takes a small problem such as this one to expose the utter shambles in local government.

Meanwhile, my child did go to her first day of school this morning. She was very thrown by it all and was in tears, clinging to me and begging me not to leave her. It’s the first time she’s acted this way on the first day of a school year. It would have probably helped if I’d been better able to prepare her for where she needed to go. Instead, I had to explain to her last night that we were sending her to this school last minute. I didn’t bother to add that we are still hoping she’ll be offered a better school closer to us.

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6 Comments

Filed under British life, motherhood, transitions, Uncategorized

6 responses to “Back to school (update)

  1. Cousin

    😦 Poor Chatterbox. I’m sorry this has been so stressful for you. Hang in there! I’m thinking of you guys and give Chatterbox a big hug and kiss from me.

  2. Jeanelle

    I second what your cousin said. How stressful for you and horrifying for little Chatterbox. I’m sure eventually she’ll adjust, but hopefully she’ll get into the school you want her to. It’s hard to believe that’s how they handle the waitlist admissions process there. Good luck to you both!

    • I know, the whole process really needs a complete overhaul, but I suspect there is a shortage of funds. Not very different to California in that respect. The worst thing is the distance. I walked there and back today – my legs are feeling it!

  3. Chavel

    Give Chatterbox my regards. Poor thing, last year things were much easier for her. Tell her to request school transfer for Kate.
    Lots of love!

  4. Oh poor thing…I’m crossing my fingers for you guys to get a phone call from the local school soon. Give my love to Chatterbox xx.

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