Tuesday, 8 September 2009

School Of Thought

The three words 'back to school' have always filled me with dread - eliciting that sinking feeling in the pit of the stomach when the realisation dawned that the summer holidays weren't forever and the reality of Maths and P.E. beckoned.

For many parents in Worcester Park, though, the 'back to school' dread begins a long time ahead of September with the battle to get their offspring into their chosen local school - not helped by the lack of local secondary schools.

As blog reader WhiteVanLady writes:

"Secondary schools in Worcester Park? Oh yes, there aren't any. Seems that Sutton Council forgot to build one.

This means that if you live south of about half-way down Washington Road you have to play Worcester Park Schools Poker when it comes to exercising your "parental choice", also known as "guess the catchment areas".

All secondary schools west of Sutton town centre are oversubscribed, and Worcester Park is sometimes in their catchment area but is usually not, especially Worcester Park South. When you choose a place on the list of preferences, you don't really know if you are in a catchment area as it changes each year.

Church membership flourishes in this borough among people with young children because having fallen outside the catchment areas, the faith schools in the borough may be a good option for children not likely to get places in the selective schools. One family I know live very, very near to a faith school, and felt it important to "find god", or have their kids make a long commute across the borough each day.

One family in the borough were apparently denied a place at a faith school as the parents were not married.

The other "choice" you can exercise is to find a school outside the borough. If you try to get a school place in Epsom, then the stakes get higher, as some schools there operate a first preference system (keep up at the back please).

I know more than one child's parents who placed one of the high schools in Epsom as their first choice last year as they would otherwise not have been offered a place there. They then discovered that their child had in fact passed the entry for a grammar school, but were not entitled to a place as they had given first choice to a high school in Epsom.

Heaven help families who can't cope with this labyrinthine mess through lack of English, stress, illness or whatever.

Come and see Central Road at 7.30 during school term time. You will find a flock of kids in a multitude of different coloured blazers as they make their long way to grammar school, faith school or schools outside London."

Do share you experiences of battling the primary or secondary school catchment area/selection game below!