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!

7 COMMENTS (Add Yours Now!):

Pedestrian said...

The three words of 'back to school' have always filled ME with dread as every morning i now have to negotiate the prams, pushchairs, 4x4's, and various pockets of chatting parents along Dorchester road outside the junior school.

It's normally a nice peaceful walk to the station during the summer break, but as soon as term time begins again, it's literally gridlocked outside the school.

Grrr.

Anonymous said...

I just want the traffic to be like it was when the kids were on holidays - its a mission to get through the high street in the mornings now the schools are back - taking up to 30 mins instead of 5!! Why cant something be done about this cut through or the lack of alternative ways to get past the station???

Anonymous said...

Agreed! And when you step on the bus, you are greeted with the hoards of children from the Kingston area who are using up Sutton school places.

Anonymous said...

I live in one of the "black hole" areas of Worcester Park.

My daughter is now in Y11 at Cheam High and enjoying every minute of it but she didn't get a place there until the second week of term when she started in Y7. We had a nightmare with all the local authorities. It is a ridiculous situation when local children can't go to local schools. I know Worcester Park children are normally given priority to Blenheim places but not everyone wants their child to go on a train to school - enough of that when they go to work!

Despite my daughter loving Cheam and the fact that my son would have got a sibling place there, he wanted to go to Glyn. We were too far out to be sure to get a place on distance so then had to go via entrance test. Fortunately he was lucky and did get a place there, albeit a month after the initial places were sent out.

Good luck to any Worcester Park parents - keep your nerve and your temper - you'll need them both!!!

axlrocky said...

Not that im suggesting fellow black holers do this but I have heard that if you get all your mail forwarded to an address in the borough boundaries and then get it re routed after the place is accepted and your child has started, it is very rare that the school system will throw a child out once term has started - once your in, you tend to be in, now just find a friend you trust not to snoop through your mail. Also - if everyone stops voting lib dem we might for once get something done about this mess in our area

Anonymous said...

It's the parents fault for being so picky in the first place! There should be one type of state school and the brat simply goes to their nearest school. and as for those overwight lazy parents who decide to clog up the roads during term time with their inability to drive or park well what can you say!

Paul said...

I think the Nonsuch High entry takes some beating. You get a far higher chance of entry if you live within a certain distance of the mid point of Nonsuch and Wallington High Schools than you do if you just live close to Nonsuch. Now, being in the Worcester Park black hole, I live nowhere near Wallington, but then I didn't want my daughter to go there. However because we don't live near Wallington she is also persona non grata at Nonsuch, which we are pretty close to. There will be girls who live in Purley who are going to Nonsuch now because they live closer to Wallington than we do.

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