97.8% of young people in Cornwall get their first choice secondary school

Near 98% of young people get their first choice of secondary school. That is a great achievement for not only for those parent, carers and young people, but to the School’s Admission Team at Cornwall Council who have processed 5,426 applications this year.

Of course I have total sympathy to those 155 parents who did not get their first choice. However, 99.2% of applications have been given one of their first three preferences. They can still appeal that process. This year we had more applications for school places than in 2016.

A few reasons why not everyone will be satisfied is whilst each area has what is called a designated school, a parent can apply to another school not their designated one. However, a child with a closer tie to a designated school will be given priority. Furthermore, even know we say this each it is important all three boxes filled in, and not just one. As it makes the team’s job more difficult if there are no second/third choice.

Another issue is we face – each year – is late applications. we are currently dealing with 170 late applications. Late application often end in disappointment, especially if a school has school place pressures.

This continued performance is good news for children and families in Cornwall at this time but the Council is closely monitoring the pressure on primary school places which is expected to start affecting secondary schools from 2018 onwards.  I can assure you the Council is working to mitigate this with capital funding for additional school places, including new schools.

Transferring to secondary school is an important and exciting step for Year 6 children and their families and we know that it is an anxious time waiting for confirmation of a school place. I am delighted that, once again, the Council is able to offer a very high number of children a place at their preferred school.  I was in London recently, and according to the media, over 30% of children in London will not get their first choice. We have near 98%

The Council will continue to plan for the demand on places to ensure that as many children as possible can attend their preferred school now and in the future.

Well done Schools Admission Team, and the Appeals Team who will be busy with any appeals.

92% of reception age children in Cornwall are offered place in first preference school

Today, parents of reception age children across Cornwall were sent details of which school their child is due to attend in September, with the majority of children being allocated a place in their first preference school. Furthermore, all reception age pupils who applied for a school place in Cornwall have been allocated a place.

This year Cornwall Council received 5839 applications for new reception school places for pupils in Cornwall to start school in September 2016.  Of those, 5399 (92.5 %) have been offered a place at their first preference school.  Of the 440 pupils who were not allocated their first preference school, 220 pupils have been allocated their second preference school and 46 pupils their third preference school.  These figures show that 97% of children have been allocated one of their three preferences.

Sadly, 174 pupils (3%) have not been allocated a place at either their first, second or third preference school, but at the nearest school to their home address with room. Of the 174 not allocated their first, second or third preference, 82 of these only expressed 1 preference and 39 only expressed 2 preferences on the application form.

I am delighted that 92% of children in Cornwall have allocated their first choice of primary school and I would like to thank the School Admissions Team for all their hard work.    

Of the children who have not been allocated one of their three preferences, the process has been made more challenging because 121 of these families did not express a second or third preference.

it is again very important to highlight that we always advise parents / carers to submit three preferences on their application form to ensure that they are allocated one of their preferred schools . We understand that some parents / carers believe that by submitting only one preference this will increase the likelihood of getting their first / only preference – however this is not the case, as can be seen by the figures previously. 

This year sees a slight improvement compared to 2015 New Reception admissions, when 91% of children were allocated a place in their first preference school, with 96% being allocated one of their three preferences.  181 pupils (3%) were not been allocated a place at either their first, second or third preference school, but at the nearest school to their home address with room. The Council received 5782 applications for new reception places.

In 2014 94.2% of children were allocated a place in their first preference school, with 98.3% being allocated one of their three preferences.

In Cornwall we have 235 primary schools, of which 227 have reception classes (with the remaining 8 junior schools); of these, 104 are currently full.  This number is expected to increase as late applications for places are processed over the next few weeks.  The number of primary aged children in Cornwall requiring a school place continues to grow, this picture is mirrored nationally.

Among the areas in Cornwall which are experiencing particular pressures on reception age school places are St Austell, Saltash, Helston, Falmouth, Pool, Camelford, Truro and Newquay.

To meet the increasing demand for school places in primary schools, Cornwall Council has commissioned expansion schemes at a number of schools across Cornwall to ensure that children can be accommodated in New Reception, and other primary classes, in time for the start of the new academic year in September 2016.

The Council has been working closely with schools in pupil place pressure areas in Cornwall to identify the best solution for expansion and is very appreciative of the support offered by schools, both maintained and non-maintained, to meet the continuing demand for primary places. School expansions are funded from the DfE/EfA either by Basic Need, or Targeted Basic Need.

Cornwall Council achieves near 100% for secondary school admissions for 2016

In a spot of good news for Cornwall Council it is, once again, one of the best performing councils in the country in ensuring that Year 6 primary school children in Cornwall will be going to the secondary school they want to attend in September 2016, with 98 % of pupils being allocated their first preference school.

The Council received 5,244 on time applications for secondary school places in Cornwall for September 2016, with 5,178 (98.74 %) of pupils being allocated a place at their first choice of school, and 5,236 (99.85% ) being allocated a place in one of their three choices of schools. This means that only 66 children failed to get a place in their first preference school, all of whom have been allocated a place in either their second or third preference school.

This is an even stronger performance than last year when 97.85% of the 4,975 children were allocated a place in their first choice of school, with 99.34% allocated a place in one of their three preferences. Whilst this is good news for children and families in Cornwall at this time, there remains concern over pupil places in primary schools being able to meet demand as numbers of children in Cornwall continue to increase.

The current primary pressures are expected to start affecting secondary schools from 2018 onwards and the Council is working to mitigate this with capital funding for new schools places. This money comes from the Government,  and in the past, Cornwall has had mixed results when funding has been awarded.

With this pressure on school places we currently have four oversubscribed secondary schools in Cornwall, with the remaining 27 all admitting all of their first preference applicants.

As the Portfolio Holder, I welcomed the high number of children in Cornwall who would be attending their first preference secondary school and praise the hard work of the School Admissions Team in ensuring that on time applications were dealt with so efficiently and quickly and within published timescales.

I know that waiting for confirmation of secondary school places is an anxious time for both parents and carers and children and I am therefore delighted that more than 99% of children in Cornwall will be going to their preferred secondary school in September. he sai

I must highlight that the The Council’s School Admissions Team has to date already received 222 late applications, with more expected over the coming days and weeks. While there can be a number of reasons for not submitting applications in time, late applications put additional pressure on the admissions team and can lead to disappointment in a child not getting their first preference.

Despite this, getting near 100% first three choices is an outstanding achievement. Credit must go to all who made this happen.

Cornwall Council launches strategy to tackle school places in Cornwall

At yesterday’s Cabinet, the Pupil Place Planning Strategy was approved unanimously by my fellow Cabinet colleagues. The strategy sets out the main challenges Cornwall is facing in meeting demand for school places.

The Council has a statutory duty to ensure there are sufficient numbers of school places to meet demand. However, it is the Government who actually funds this, which is sometime problematic in trying to balance demand, with the actual funding given to the Council. The is further complicated because future capital funding for new and expanding schools is not guaranteed either.

It is no surprise the greatest demand for school places is currently at primary level, with an increase of – 36,319 pupils in September 2009 to 38,630 in September 2014 – more than 2,000 pupils (20%) in five years. The January 2015 school census showed that 50 (21%) of primary schools were operating at or above their net capacity, up from 42 (18%) at the same point in 2014.

The strategy is now only about increased pupil numbers, but dealing with areas where numbers on roll are falling. It will not be a surprise, but this is happening in more rural areas. The strategy sets out the Council’s commitment to provide advice and guidance on the challenges for small schools.

As I said earlier, funding is key for a school place strategy to work in the past, the Government did give Cornwall £7.8m for Targeted Basic Need (TBN), but as previous blogs highlighted, this was not enough to deliver the extra 840 places required. This resulted in the Council having to find the other monies because the true cost of delivering the school spaces was £12m. The TBN schemes are:

  • Indian Queens Primary School – 120 permanent places
  • Mount Hawke Academy – 90 permanent places
  • Nanpean Community Primary School – 120 permanent places
  • St Columb Minor Academy – 90 permanent places
  • St Petroc’s Academy – 90 permanent places
  • The Bishops’ CE Primary School – 90 permanent places
  • Treleigh Community Primary School – 120 permanent places

After the TBN disappointment, the Government did award £31 under the Basic Need (BN) programme for 2015/18. This will help address the issue of school places. The schools in scope for the BN expansion are:

  • Biscovey Primary School – 30 permanent places
  • Charlestown Primary School – 180 permanent places
  • Cubert Primary School – 60 permanent places
  • Luxulyan Primary School – 30 permanent places
  • Pondhu Primary School – 90 permanent places
  • Rosemellin Primary School – 90 permanent places
  • St Agnes Primary School – 210 permanent places
  • St Teath Primary School – 30 permanent places
  • Stratton Primary School – 90 permanent places
  • Tregolls Academy – 210 permanent places
  • Trewirgie Infant School – 30 permanent places

The pressure on primary school places is now beginning to impact on secondary levels in 2016/17. Although there are currently over 5,000 surplus places at secondary level, there are pockets of pressure in certain areas. Bodmin and Wadebridge are the only towns currently experiencing serious capacity issues and options appraisals and/or feasibility studies in relation to expansion are currently underway at both schools. Feasibility studies will also be completed for Saltash.net Community School and Richard Lander School in Truro in order to mitigate short to medium terms pressure which are partly dependent on housing build rate.

Future expansion options are being worked up and including the above projects, the authority has commissioned design consultants to assess the ability for schools to expand across 21 town and rural community network areas in Cornwall. These schools will form part of an options appraisal process which will demonstrate which schools are able to expand and may then progress to full site feasibility. Though how many come forward will be dependent on how much the Government makes available in funding.

The strategy also sets out how the Local Education Authority (LEA) will work with planning officer to make sure larger developments have adequate section 106 funding to mitigate the impact of new homes on school places.

The current education funding element of the Section 106 is £2,736 per qualifying dwelling. This excludes affordable housing as no contribution is due. The Education Funding Agency (EFA) base their costing on £8,500 per places, but in reality in Cornwall, the true cost is anything from £13,000 per place.

Other parts of the strategy include; SEN capital funding, School Loan Scheme, maintenance capital funding, and how schools access their own funding.

On the issue of school maintenance funding, I want to give insight on the scale of the issue we have in Cornwall on the lack of maintenance funding awarded to Cornwall. If you exclude academy schools, we have a maintenance backlog in our schools totalling in excess of £90m, but only having £4m/5m award per year to tackle this backlog.

Even though I have highlighted many of the concerns I have in dealing with school places, the need for adequate funding for both new and expanding schools, and school maintenance funding, I am proud of the work that has gone into this strategy. This is the first strategy of its kind in Cornwall, and those who worked to make this strategy a reality should be very proud of the work contained within. Well done.

 

School Admission and the appeal process

Each Cabinet Member takes in it turns to write an article for the West Briton group of papers. This month it is my turn, and I decided to write about school admissions.

As a parent, I know how nerve-wracking the process of applying for a reception place for your child can be. However, it is the long wait from submitting the application to hearing the decision that really has you biting your nails. Luckily, in the vast majority of cases in Cornwall, the Council gives parents and children one of their preferred three choices.

This year we received 5,782 applications for new reception places for September.  Of these 5242 or 90.7 % have been offered a place at their first preference school, with 96.3% of children allocated am place at one of their three preferred schools.

Whilst it is obviously good news for the 5242 families which have been given their first choice, there are others that will be disappointed that they did not get their first, second or event third choice. I completely understand their feelings which is why I wanted to explain the appeals process as part of this article.

School Admission Appeals Panels are established to hear appeals from parents and guardians relating to a decision made by either Cornwall Council, or the Governing Body of academy or voluntary aided schools, to refuse a place for a child at a local authority maintained or academy primary and secondary schools in Cornwall.

These Panels operate completely independently of Cornwall Council and are an impartial and informal forum for parents and the admission authority/academy concerned to present their respective cases and be confident that they are given a fair hearing.

All Appeal Panels must consist of lay members and people who have experience in education.  Lay members are people without personal experience in the management of any school or the provision of education in any school (except as a school governor or in another voluntary capacity). Currently we have 15 members who are experienced in education and 16 lay members.

It is important to say Panel members must not have any connection with either the Council or the school/academy which is the subject of the appeal to avoid concerns being raised over an individual’s ability to act impartially.In some areas schools are full or near capacity which is why we cannot always ensure parents have their first choices.

As the Portfolio Holder I want to get to a position where 100% of parents in Cornwall receive one of their first three choices. To help achieve this we are looking at where we need to put extra places either by adding another classroom on to the school, or building a completely new school. We are able to do this because last year the Council was awarded £32m to help fund new places. This will not be enough, as we will have to use educational part of Section 106’s to make sure we have enough school places.

I do want to thank staff in the admissions team, Democratic Services and members of the appeals panel for all the work they do in trying to give parents their preferred choices. I have seen first-hand how hard they work to achieve this.

If a parent would like any advice on the appeal process they are encouraged to contact the Appeals Team within Democratic Services (01872) 322376.

 

90 Percent of Cornwall’s reception aged children get their first choice of school for September

Those parents who have applied for a school place for reception age children across Cornwall will today receive details of which school their child is due to attend in September. For the majority this will be good news.

I am pleased to say that the majority of children in Cornwall have been allocated a place at their first preference school. I would like to publicly like to thank the members of the Council’s admissions team who have worked extremely hard to process almost 6,000 applications over the past few weeks.

The Council received 5782 applications for new reception school places for pupils in Cornwall to start school in September 2015. Of those, 5242 (90.7 %) have been offered a place at their first preference school.

Of the 540 pupils who were not allocated their first preference school, 272 pupils have been allocated their second preference school and 53 pupils their third preference school. These figures show that 96.3% of children have been allocated one of their three preferences.

The 215 pupils (3.7%) who have not been allocated a place at either their first, second or third preference school, but have at the nearest school to their home address with room.

All reception age pupils who applied for a school place in Cornwall have been allocated a place.

So how does this compare with previous years? The fact is this years figures are slightly lower (3.1%) compared to 2014 New Reception admissions, when 94% of children were allocated a place in their first preference school, with 97.9% being allocated one of their three preferences. Then 106 (2.1%) children did not get a place in their first preference school. In 2013, 93.1% of children were allocated a place in their first preference school, with 97.5% being allocated one of their three preferences.

It is no secret and many will be aware that there has been increasing pressure on reception age school places in a number of areas across Cornwall, as the number of children requiring a school place continues to grow. Cornwall is not alone as this picture is mirrored nationally. The areas currently experiencing the greatest pressures are St Austell, Camborne, Pool and Redruth, St Agnes, St Teath and Camelford, Truro, Launceston and Newquay.

As result of this increasing pressure there has been an increase in the number of schools which are full for new reception admissions in September 2015. Cornwall has 235 primary schools, of which 227 have reception classes (with the remaining 8 junior schools). Of these 112 are currently full, compared with 93 schools in 2014 and 53 in 2013.

To meet the increasing demand for school places in primary schools, the Council have commissioned expansion programmes at sixteen schools across Cornwall to ensure that children can be accommodated in New Reception and other primary classes in time for the start of the academic year in September 2015. Work is currently under-way in most of these schools with additional works due to be carried out during the summer term and summer holiday period.

We are also preparing for future growth in a number of areas and are tendering for schemes to be carried out to provide further additional school places in Cornwall over the next two years.

These expansions to school are carried out by Government funding by means of Targeted Basic Needs (TBN) and Basic Needs (BN). The Council is in a fortunate position this time after the disappointment of getting less money for TBN, earmarked to get £18m, but only got £7.8m. However, the Council did get a better than expected settlement for BN.

Future Government funding post 2017 – whoever that will be post 7th May – will need to be enough to make sure we have adequate spaces for our children to attend school in years to come. If it is not, as to quote a well known film: “Houston, we have a problem.”

 

Allocation for September school places in Cornwall released

Today, parents and carers of reception age children across Cornwall will received details of which school their child is due to attend in September. The good news is the majority of children being allocated a place in their first preference school.  It is an understandably a fraught time until parents and carers know which school they have been allocated.

Cornwall Council  has received 5225 applications for new reception school places to start school in September 2014.  Of those 4910 (94 %) have been offered a place at their first preference school, with 315 pupils being allocated a place at either their second (169 pupils), third (40 pupils) preference school.  This means that 97.9% of children were allocated one of their three preferences.

I would  like to credit the School Admission Team for their hard work in processing the applications and getting the information out to parents and carers.

This is a similar picture to 2013 when 93.1% of children were allocated a place in their first preference school, with 97.5% being allocated one of their three preferences.  317 children did not get a place in their first preference school. In 2012 93.1% of pupils were allocated a place at their first preference school, with 97.4% being allocated a place in their second or third preference.  406 failed to get a place at their first preference school.

However there might be disappointment for the 106 pupils (2.1%), who were not allocated a place at either their first, second or third preference school, but at the nearest school to their home address with room for the 2014 intake.  All reception age pupils who applied for a school place in Cornwall have been allocated a place.

Based on the figures to date, there are 47 oversubscribed primary schools for new reception September 2014 admissions in Cornwall.  This is a similar number to the figure for the past two years, with 45 oversubscribed schools in 2013, and 49 oversubscribed schools in 2012.  There has, however, been an increase in the number of schools which are full for new reception admissions in September 2014; with 71 out of Cornwall’s 236 primary schools are full, compared with 60 schools in 2013.

The Council is actively working on addressing the issue of oversubscribed schools in Cornwall with two funding streams. These are the Target Basic Need which eight schools have been identified and expansion plans are currently being progressed. The other fund is Basic Needs, which the Council has been awarded £32m for the 2015-17 periods.

Despite much publicity, the Council’s admissions team have received 247 late applications for new reception places so far this year, with further late admissions expected in the next few weeks. The deadline for the second round of applications is 2 May. So those who have not applied might find it difficulty of getting their first three choices if their school is one of those 71. This compares with 447 late applications by the second round May deadline in 2013, and a total figure of 804 late applications by 31 August. There were 494 late applications by the second round May deadline in 2012, with a total of 767 late applications by 31 August. If the application was received after 16 January 2014 it will be a late application – these will be processed and letters will be sent out by 02 June.

Of course not all parents and carers will send their child to school and may opt to home educate. In Cornwall we have roughly 400 children who are home educated.

In the next few days, parents and carers who have applied will receive a letter on their allocation. For those who applied online, they would already have received an email confirming their allocation. These were sent out at 00:01 Wednesday 16th.  . If they have applied on-line they can log back onto their application using their password and it will show them the result. Everyone will receive a letter.

For those parents and carers who did not did not get their 1st/2nd/3rd preference school, then they will need to wait for their letter which will explain how the process works i.e. for appealing the decision/going on the waiting list. If parents wish to appeal the letter will specify whether they need to get the appropriate forms and details from the admissions team or from the school (Academies do their own appeals). 

If parents and carers wish their child to go on the waiting list for any school they have been refused they must return the waiting list form listing which schools they wish to go on, they can only go on the waiting list for a school that they have been refused and cannot add a new school to that waiting list. The waiting lists will become active after 02 May as all late applications have to go onto the waiting lists with the on-time refusals.  If any places have been given up at oversubscribed school the places will be allocated after that date. If school place is no longer required they need to inform us in writing (letter or email) with full details, full name, DOB, address and reason. That way those places can be reallocated.

Deadline for September Primary School places approaches

I really shouldn’t be having to write this blog post, but I am having to because there are a large number of parents and guardians who have not yet applied (unless they are electing to home educate) for a school place for September.

I must urge you to do this as soon as possible or you might be in a position of not getting your first choice of school. It is hard to believe, but there is still a very large number – in excess of 700 – of children who have not applied for a primary school place.

If your child was born between 01 September 2009 and 31st August 2010, the deadline to apply for a primary school place is 23:59 on Wednesday 15th January 2014. There is no advantage to those who leave their application until the last-minute. Our advice to all parents and guardians is to get your application in now and not to leave it until the deadline day.

Parents should be aware that all applications submitted after 15 January will not be processed until after all those applications submitted by the deadline. There will therefore be a delay before a place can be allocated and it is highly possible that a number of schools will already be full.

Should you have any questions about applying for a school place, please do not hesitate to contact Cornwall’s School Admissions Team on 0300 1234 101 or email schooladmissions@cornwall.gov.uk

You can apply for a school place HERE

Please apply now, or you might find yourself being disappointed in not getting your prefered school choice.

 

 

Have you registered your child for a school place in September?

Welcome to 2014 and my first blog of the year. This first blog is going to start off with a plea; this plea is if you have children born between 01 September 2009 and 31 August 2010 you have to register your child for a school place (that is of course unless you want to home educate) for September 2014? If  you have not, you need to apply for a place BEFORE the 15th January 2014 – that leaves you 12 days.

It is simple to do, as you can apply using the  online application system; which can be found HERE.

Sadly, too many people leave this to the last-minute, or  just a month or two before the school term starts. This results in a lot of extra work for the schools admission team. But worse, and in areas where school places are at a premium, parents often find they do not get their first choice of school. I have seen too many school appeals take place when the parents have not applied in time for a school place.

More worrying, with just a few weeks to go until January 15th, there are roughly 1000 (at time of blogging) children who have not been registered for a school place! That is 25% of eligible children who have not applied for a school place. That my friends is leaving it a little too late.

If you need help, Cornwall Council’s Family Information Service is a useful resource; they can help with choosing a school, completing the application, understanding the process or other aspects of starting school, or help parent and carers whose first language isn’t English. They can be contacted on 0800 587 8191.

Please, please make sure you have registered your children for a school place! As failing to, can result in disappointment and extra hassle for both you and the Council.