Parents of children who are starting Year Six this September are being urged to put down FOUR preferences when applying for their child’s secondary school place – to avoid losing out on their preferred school or academy for September next year.
The warning from Nottinghamshire County Council (NCC) applies to all its schools whose pupils are about to start their final year at junior school. This is in readiness for the 2022 autumn term, for which the application deadline to apply for secondary school places is the end of October 2021. NCC is urging parents to make use of all four of their school preferences, as it says marking only one preference will not ensure that a place is allocated at that school.
If there are no places available at the parents’ preferred school, an alternative offer is made – but this is not automatically in the catchment area or nearest school. NCC warns that places can be offered instead at the next closest school with places available and this will only be after all the on-time preferences have been processed. This means your child could be offered a place at a school even further away.
It’s a stark message which is already very pertinent to parents with children at St Peter’s Junior School here in Ruddington where ‘National Offer Day’ this year resulted in dismay for numerous village families. Most had assumed their son or daughter would automatically be offered a place at Rushcliffe School – historically the first choice for Ruddington kids. However, it became apparent that children of new residents in thousands of recently built houses at Edwalton and Wilford had received priority for these places this year – meaning some village families got their second preference of South Wolds Academy instead.
A subsequent appeal by some of the affected parents against this decision failed – after which they wrote an angry joint letter to Rushcliffe MP Ruth Edwards, Cllr Reg Adair and Cllr Matt Barney to express their dismay at the situation. So far the issue has affected those living in the Musters Road, Barleylands and Pasture Lane Estates in Ruddington because they are the furthest from Rushcliffe School as the crow flies. This is despite the West Bridgford based academy being half the distance to travel from here compared with the one allocated in Keyworth.
This situation has seemingly arisen because the number of currently available school places has been outstripped by demand from thousands of new residents moving in to the new housing developments all around us. Whilst hundreds of new school places have since been promised by a future expansion of Rushcliffe School, and the building of a totally new secondary school on land off Regatta Way, near Gamston, the benefit isn’t likely to be felt by Ruddington families until at least 2023. By this time, it’s anticipated another 600 homes will have been built on our former Green Belt here, too!
Ahead of NCC’s October 31st 2021 deadline, parents have written again to our MP, two Borough Councillors, Paul West, the CEO The Spencer Academies Trust, and Damian Painton, the Principal of Rushcliffe School.
Their letter says:
“The Nottinghamshire County Council Secondary Allocation Summary figures show that Rushcliffe secondary school allocation has hit a crisis point with all schools grossly oversubscribed. The 11 children who were refused a place at Rushcliffe school were offered a place at South Wolds Academy, where the total allocation exceeded the Published Admissions Number (PAN) by a third. With an even larger expected intake from the new Rosecliffe Spencer Academy primary school in Edwalton (increased from circa 15 to 45 students over the coming years), it looks like Ruddington will be impacted even further for next year’s applications. Published Admission Numbers must increase in order to account for these children. Most families will be unaware of this situation, and it will therefore once again come as a complete shock if they do not secure a place at Rushcliffe School as St Peter’s has been a linked school for many years without any issues.”
The parents’ letter then quotes these Primary Top Secondary Allocation summary 2021/22 figures:
|West Bridgford School||216||268||177|
|South Wolds Academy||150||200||0|
|The Becket School||166||175||99|
It adds: “The situation has been caused by large-scale, planned housing developments in West Bridgford, Edwalton, Keyworth, East Leake and Ruddington, approved by Rushcliffe Borough Council, without providing additional funding to these schools in a timely manner. It is simply not acceptable and those involved in making these decisions need to be made accountable.”
You can find the residents’ correspondence in full >>HERE<<.
Councillor Tracey Taylor, Chairman for NCC’s Children and Young People’s Committee, says: “Starting a new school is a big milestone and I know that parents and their children may already have strong ideas about which secondary school they want – or don’t want – to attend.” However she adds: “It is very important that parents apply on time and it’s crucial that they identify four preferences. It can be heart-breaking when a child does not get the school place they want, but if parents have made sure to list four schools on their application, that truly is their best chance of getting a school that they are happy for their child to attend.”
It advises that the easiest way to apply is online at www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/admissions by the deadline of Sunday 31st October 2021.
The authority says secondary school offers will then be made on the next secondary school ‘National Offer Day’, which will be Monday 1st March 2022. It’s likely more Ruddington families will need to brace themselves for potential disappointment.