Is there a shortage of school places in Highgate, Archway, Crouch End area?

(182 Posts)

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nlondondad Sun 21-Apr-13 10:58:18

I was wondering if anyone was experiencing difficulty in getting a place for their child in this area of N. London? Postal codes N19, N8, N6 are relevant?

PaperMover Mon 25-Nov-13 19:38:12

Ok, will point my neighbours to this thread ! HP has gone from being an unknown school in my neighbourhood to one often talked about. I think a lot of people will be sad not to have extra spaces at TP though.

nlondondad Mon 25-Nov-13 15:27:17

Thefurther point from islington is on places supply throughout the Borough.

"The strategy for September 2014 admissions is to make permanent the (previous bulge class) increases at Ambler and Hargrave Park. This has been confirmed in the primary admission brochure as 'subject to formal confirmation in February 2014'.

We have over 90 vacancies at present in reception and at this point, we are not planning any bulge classes for next year but cannot rule it out."

nlondondad Mon 25-Nov-13 15:11:51

This is what islington had to say about places increases:

"The strategy for September 2014 admissions is to make permanent the (previous bulge class) increases at Ambler and Hargrave Park. This has been confirmed in the primary admission brochure as 'subject to formal confirmation in February 2014'."

My Comment:

So this is actually as strong as it (legally) the decision has been made subject to a purely formal ratification -for example the next meeting of Schools Forum is not until early 2014

Islington say:

Christ the King has also increased its roll and this, too, is confirmed in the brochure.

My Comment

This matters because it is a Church School on the southern edge of the area, and some people will go there for religious reasons who would otherwise have gone to a community school, so it increases capacity.

nlondondad Mon 25-Nov-13 15:04:19

Further to my last post - the one just above PaperMover's last -I got back to Islington for some further clarification and I got it, there are really two parts to it.

I will do them as two seperate posts following.

PaperMover Sun 24-Nov-13 20:16:29

Interesting , thanks nlondondad, we just got lucky this year!

nlondondad Sun 24-Nov-13 17:11:16

I have gone back and checked the email I got from Islington in response to my query regarding extra places NEXT year and the relevant bit is this

"We are planning to permanently restore places permanently at Ambler and Hargrave Park (this year's are bulge classes)"

So its true the final decision has not been made. As Islington have said they will only increase places with the agreement of the school, that will mean that a proposal to increase Hargrave Park for next year will need the consent of Hargrave's Governors. An example of why Governors matter. In practice Governors will be strongly persuaded by the opinion of the Head, and the Head will not recommend an increase without being certain that she can put the correct arrangements in place. Which will include negotiations regarding the amount of money Islington put in.

And also my understanding regarding a final decision is that it will not be made until after there is some ide as to what applications actually look like. As there are eight vacancies this year if there were six children fewer next year, then an increase would not be needed. (Camden have just revised down their forecast for next year in that bit of Camden nearest Hargrave Park.)

PaperMover Sun 24-Nov-13 17:02:36

Yes * Jakecat*, we were offered a bulge class place this year but ended up with our nearest school on the end. I liked HP but was concerned about the lack of planning for those children as they moved up the school.

nlondon my neighbours know its v unlikley they will get a place at any of their preferred nearest 6 schools, or 8 schools when you add in the VA schools.

jakecat Sun 24-Nov-13 15:58:03

Paper - I liked it. Not my first choice for a number of reasons. Head teacher had fought to make sure that there were 2 reception classes of equal size this year when they added the bulge places which I liked. But it sounded to me as if the mechanics of the extra numbers as they go up through the school had yet to be worked out. Certainly no suggestion that the extra 15 places are a permanent feature just because they happened this year, as has been suggested earlier in this thread.

nlondondad Sat 23-Nov-13 23:37:10

So for example, where I live, a stones throw from the old Ashmount site, the six closest schools are: Coleridge, Ashmount, Hargrave park, Duncombe, Highgate Primary and probably Rokesely (ignoring church schools) This year you would have been certain to get a place at Hargrave Park or Highgate Primary as they did not have a cut off distance, in Hargrave Park's case after the extra places were created. You might have got either Ashmount of Coleridge on waiting list. So expressing an order of preference would have been worth doing.

But next year could be quite different; for example if the trend of falling applications in Crouch End continues for a fourth year...

nlondondad Sat 23-Nov-13 23:27:05


Bit of a chicken and egg here methinks. The usual advice is to apply for six schools near you (of course) in order of your preference, so really your friend should be applying for the six schools nearest them, but in order of THEIR preference. (Church schools a complication of course if they make up some of the choices). The thing is that Admission radii can vary so much from year to year that it really doesnt help to second guess them. this year Ashmounts radius halved but Rokesely's radius shot right up, and so for the first time in years parts of the Whitehall Park area were within it.

The Head of Hargrave Park is quite right to say that final decisions will not be made on place planning for 2014 until after the deadline for admissions. That is because Islington want to use actual application numbers as part of the planning process instead of relying on forecasts. So they will respond to demand.

I suppose there is also the point that if the new Free School does get the old Ashmount site this is an increase of 20 percent in the number of school places in the area, so that would cause a lot of instability and its very difficult to predict how that would affect admissions radii. Especially as, in the first year the Free School is not part of the council admissions system, so some people could end up holding two offers. So in that case people would really just have to rank the six closest schools....

PaperMover Sat 23-Nov-13 22:12:31

Thanks. jake, makes it very difficult to make an informed decision! What did you think of the school?

jakecat Sat 23-Nov-13 21:54:45

Greeneggsandnaiceham - the Islington primary admissions brochure says that there will be 45 places at Hargrave Park but this is subject to confirmation in February 2014 (so after the admissions deadline on 15th January). The head teacher of HP said she did not know whether they would be 30 or 45 admissions when I looked round recently. Hope that helps

Greeneggsandnaiceham Sat 23-Nov-13 19:24:06

Nlondondad, do you know if Islington has made a decision on the additional places at Hargrave and tufnell park schools? I have neighbours interested in HP but it would probably only be worth them putting it down as one of their six if the extra places were confirmed.

meditrina Sat 23-Nov-13 18:38:05

Yes, I can read.

They have not yet added to places permanently.

I do know the difference between bulge and permanent.

It was the earlier poster who claimed that there was already a permanent increase who was wrong.

There is only a 'surplus' of places because they have counted the 80 bulge class places. Of the places that are currently permanently established, there was a shortfall of 72. The figure of 90 is my rough estimate based on the current shortfall of permanent places. Of course, if the places are indeed provided by permanent expansion of existing schools, then there would be no need. However that has not yet been done and may not prove achievable. The predictions for the acute level of London primary place shortfall between now and 2016 (and not dropping back thereafter) has led most councils to be encouraging new schools. If Islington is sure that their figures for primary demand will buck the pan-London trend, then seeking only to cover the level of 2013 demand is less imprudent than it would be elsewhere in the capital.

The demographic indicators are those published by the Local Government Association speaking for all councils, and those on the official London Councils' website. Of course, those official statements (which Islington backed at the time) could all be wrong. In which case, I expect that Islington officials will cease or at least soft-pedal their role the pan-London campaign for more schools.

nlondondad Sat 23-Nov-13 18:32:34

i realise that when I started this thread in April 2013 I should have included the year in the title, as this years admissions season is now over.

When I started the thread I was interested to find out what the position on the ground seemed to be, at least so far as it was being experienced by users of Mumsnet. well we know what the answer to the question is now. In the area of "Highgate, Archway, Crouch End " There was no place shortage this year. This does not mean that everyone got the place they wanted, but no one was put in the position of having to travel out of the area. In the Whitehall Park area (which lies between Highgate, Crouch End and Archway, is quite small and is in Islington), everyone who applied to a state school was offered a place, and there are still surplus places at Hargrave Park school for anyone who moves in.

Three people in the Whitehall Park area were made offers of state schools which they declined in favour of going private, so statistically not significant. I suppose they were using the state school places as back up in case their (selective) private options do not come through.

We must await and see what next year will bring. If the proposed Whitehall Park School does actually go ahead then the 8 place surplus this year would become a 64 place surplus next year UNLESS there is a very large -25 per cent or so - increase in children. However although the proposers of the school -Bellevue Place Ltd - are marketing it, their use of the old Ashmount school building is not yet confirmed, which does make me wonder whether the Education Funding Agency who would have to pay for the refurbishment of the old building are having concerns, or even second thoughts.

So there it rests. For the next few months.

nlondondad Sat 23-Nov-13 17:46:35


With respect please read my post with the quote from an Islington Officer, again and more carefully. For if you had really read it you would have noticed the statement:

"We are planning to permanently restore places at Ambler and Hargrave Park (this year's are bulge classes)."

And so you would have known not to say that "earlier posts about there being a permanent increase" were simply wrong. As you would have understood what "permanently restore places" means.

But then I really do not understand how you conclude from the fact that there has been an increase in the number of reception age children in Islington, mostly in the south of Islington, which the LA has met by increasing the number of places in existing schools to such effect that there is a small SURPLUS of places to mean there is a shortage of places. Had tha capacity of the schools not been expanded there would have been a shortage, true, but as they WERE expanded there was not.

Your comment about an extra 90 places being needed in North Islington is simply bizarre, and at best betrays a complete lack of knowledge or appreciation of how thise things work in a London Borough. But anyway I assure you that had there been 90 children in this area without places we would have heard!

As for "demographic indicators" I think you must have the area mistaken. Can you say what these are and what your source is?

meditrina Sat 23-Nov-13 12:10:12

Thanks. That's what I thought was more likely to be the case. I know the difference been bulge and permanent expansion (and it was not me who posted at there had been the latter - but I did think that assertion was one worth clearing up, as it sounded wrong).

It means the earlier posts about there being a 'permanent increase' were simply wrong. And of course that Islington has a shortfall of 72 places this year, covered by bulge classes. Those schools have not had a permanent expansion to PAN, and a shortfall of places is again anticipated for the current entry round and once again the EA expects to rely on bulge classes.

A new school (or schools) with at least 3 form entry is clearly urgently required in this area. Especially as every single demographic indicator shows increase, not stabilisation, in numbers.

nlondondad Sat 23-Nov-13 11:01:27


As I promised I referred this query to an Islington Officer and this was his response.

"There is still confusion.

The correspondent has mistakenly compared the 80 additional bulge class places with the 8 vacancies in the north and concludes that Islington is 72 places short. This is not the case, we still have 91 vacancies across the borough.

There is a difference between bulge and permanent expansion. We are planning to permanently restore places at Ambler and Hargrave Park (this year's are bulge classes). We still anticipate using bulge classes as these do not create permanent additional places in KS2. The LA has to consider both pressure in reception class and overall capacity and bulge classes are a sensible way forward for us at this stage. We know we will need permanent places in south of borough but in other areas, we do not. We also need to take care to monitor the impact of welfare reform/house prices/parental choice at KS2 etc. on school aged population and plan accordingly."

I hope this clarifies the situation. The point to note is that an increase in PAN applies all the way through the school. In this part of London, over the primary school years more families move out of the area, (typically to get cheaper/larger/more family suitable accomodation) than move in. So most schools, even if oversubscribed at reception will have vacancies by year 6.

As the government penalises a Local Authority for having surplus places they want to use repeating bulge classes at reception for the time being until they see what mobility is like further up. So they get more places for parents without increasing the PAN.

nlondondad Sun 10-Nov-13 22:37:25


The practical point is that there are a number of Islington schools which used to be be bigger in the past, and so they have the physical space to expand if required.

meditrina Sun 10-Nov-13 20:05:33

Referral to the Ombudsman would be necessary if a school and/or LEA persists in publishing the wrong PAN. This is a breach of the requirement to publish accurate information to prospective parents to help them decide which schools to list on their application form. Knowing the size of intake is clearly relevant, especially in schools where there has been a sharp increase.

Now, I do not know that the published PANs at the schools which had the bulge classes last admissions round are wrong. It is you whomis saying this - ie that there has been a permanent increase to the size of the school. So if you are right, the published information is wrong, and worse is wrong during the applications window.

A bulge class is an extra class that is added to one year group when there is need and functions like any other class. It is however for that year only: a permanent increase in PAN (ie expansion of the school) is one that applies to all future years.

Islington added what it called bulge classes (which normally means one off extra classes) providing an extra 80 places, 72 of which are full.

scriptbunny Sun 10-Nov-13 19:08:27

Hi nlondondad,

I for one am not actually sure I know what bulge class is - beyond the obvious (i.e. a school taking more pupils than last year). I don't have the contacts, time or skill to gather information about the Crouch End/Haringey end of the question, which is where my interest lies. But I have been told that three Haringey schools created bulge classes this year, which they are not planning to continue. The image I'm left with is of schools designed for a certain number of children stretching their resources to accommodate more. I guess it might theoretically be possible for certain schools to expand and contract with demand without any fall-off in quality, which is the picture I think you paint in Islington, but from a 'man on the street' perspective it doesn't feel like a very good idea and flashes me back to portakabin classes in the 1970s in Scotland...

Anything you can tell me about the legal/educational status of a bulge class that I don't know would be useful.


nlondondad Sun 10-Nov-13 18:48:07

..but in the meantime, until I get some advice, or someone from Mumsnet chips in, have a look at an older posting on this thread which may throw some light, it was dated:

Thu 18-Jul-13 10:37:33

nlondondad Sun 10-Nov-13 18:46:07


You appear very definite, but I strongly suspect you are misunderstanding something about the way LEA place planning works. But I dont feel able to be as sure about the position as you appear to be as it involves matters outside my area of expertise. When people start talking about "referrals to the ombudsman" I feel in immediate need of advice from someone who knows what they are talking about. So I shall refer your comments to some one in that position and get back to you.

meditrina Sun 10-Nov-13 17:39:47

I know what a bulge class is.

It appears from affected school websites and admissions information that the schools hosting them last year have not had a permanent increase to PAN. Or the LEA is publishing inaccurate information - which would be a matter for the Ombudsman.

The point is that Islington was short of 72 places last admissions round, and has plugged that by creating bulge classes. That is not a sustainable position.

nlondondad Sun 10-Nov-13 17:32:12

@meditrina I am not sure what your point is. Islington schools were expanded this year by 80 places to meet an increase in demand. It is simple arithmetic. There were more applications than last year, but there are more places than last year.So there are some surplus places. The bit I have the information on is the Whitehall Park area where there are now 8 vacancies.

I think you are being misled by the term "bulge class" which has a precise, technical meaning for council admissions officers. However in this case unusually what is happening is that schools that had larger" PANs" (A PAN is a Planned Admission Number) in the past are being re expanded. So the increase in places is permanent, and will apply next year as well.

Of course if the schools had not expanded there would have been a shortage of places, but they did expand, so there is not.

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