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Sheffield School Places Crisis - Labour Council Election Panic Dobcroft Infant 33% Extra Places

Local / Sheffield Feb 09, 2015 - 04:04 AM GMT

By: N_Walayat

Local

The city of Sheffield illustrates the crisis in school places that is taking place right across Britain where year on year cuts in school budgets have come up against soaring demand for places as a consequence of a soaring birth rate and immigration resulting in parents across the social spectrum desperately attempting to get their child a place at the cities best ranked state schools. And thus is the situation for Sheffield's middle class parents who have been sleep walking towards a personal school places catastrophe this year as assumptions of their child gaining a place at the nearest catchment area school for infants foundation / reception year admission would soon be shattered come the announcement of school place allocations during April 2015.


Education Budget Cuts

The crisis in school places in cities such as Sheffield has not come out of the blue / a black swan event but a train wreck that has been in motion for several years as my earlier analysis mapped out the key factors for the unfolding crisis in Sheffield's Schools -

09 Jun 2013 - Sheffield School Admissions Appeals Help - What You Should Do

Sheffield School Places Chaos

The reason so many children fail to get a place at for instance a catchment area school, is as a consequence of the Labour run Sheffield City Council continuing the Liberal Democrats programme for spending deep cuts in Sheffield's education budget as the below graph illustrates that in nominal terms has seen the education budget already cut by 11% since 2010 and 17% in real terms for the year 2012-13 and with the budget for 2013-14 announced continuing the the deep cuts to 14% and 24%, (after inflation of 3% per annum).

Sheffeld city council school places cuts

The impact of these cuts on child places in effect reverses the picture of more than a decade earlier, when Sheffield's children could more or less have expected to receive a place at a catchment area school of their choice at the application stage, with the remaining accepted on appeal, this was as the below graph illustrates by virtue of the fact that for many years Sheffield had a surplus of 5,000 school places (about 5%). However over the past 2 years deep cuts in the budget in real terms has reversed the situation from a an estimated 5,000 surplus places to a deficit of 5,000 places as of 2012-13, i.e. a cut of 10,000 school places through school closures and reductions in the number of classes running at exiting schools, against that which were available during 2010-11, the consequences of which is that schools are being effectively stuffed full to the rafters with the number of children per class now far exceeding the recommended guidelines for maximum class sizes which is resulting in the lack of school places at catchment area schools.

The consequences for 2013 school places has been that many families face a crisis of failure to attain a place in catchment area schools even if siblings attend the school due to an estimated deficit of 8,000 school places for 2013-13 which is resulting in children being placed at schools right across the city thus making it impossible for children with siblings to be in receipt of an effective education service that parents are still forced to pay for through high council and payroll taxes.

The consequences of this is not just lack of school places at schools of choice but that ALL existing schools will be stuffed full to rafters with children they have no room for with severe consequences in terms of the quality of teaching and social consequences in terms of breakdown in school systems including the the behaviour of students, and ultimately in the performance of schools as all schools are likely to see a worsening in the attainment levels of their students.

The Labour controlled Sheffield City Councils response during 2014 was to make matters worse as their baldrick-esk cunning plan was to undertake construction work expansion at schools that were not the preferred first choice for most parents as I covered at length early 2014.

21 May 2014 - Sheffield Labour Councils Baldrick Plan to Create Mega Primary Schools, Greystones Example

In response to the exploding school places crisis, the Labour controlled Sheffield city council has decided it is finally time to act. However, whilst logic would dictate that child places should be best created in schools where the highest demand is, instead the Labour Council's baldrick plan is literally to pick the worst performing schools in a particular area and then increase its school place numbers by upto 33%, the effect of which will be even LESS choice for parents to send their children to their first choice catchment area school but instead akin to an Orwellian programme for social engineering seek to create a series of under performing pockets of 'ghetto' schools towards which children will be increasingly funneled all in the interests of engineering future vested interest Labour voters.

The list of primary schools for expansion are-

  • Hallam Primary School
  • Greystones Primary School
  • Wybourn Primary School
  • Acres Hill Community Primary School
  • Tinsley Junior School

Greystones Primary School Example

Greystones Primary School is located in the Ecclesall area of Sheffield which is far from being ranked as one Sheffield's worst performing schools that according to the 2013 league table ranks 30th out of the Sheffield's 114 primary schools. However the problem is in relative terms for parents of children living far closer to other primary schools in the area such as Dobcroft (7th), Totley (2nd), Hunter's Bar (28th), Abbey Lane (20th) will now find that their child is being funneled into a worse performing enlarged Greystones school, which looks set to be a similar case for all of the schools set for expansion.

For instance parents living near Dobcroft Junior School which is where they expect their children to go will not want to end up having to take their child more than twice the distance to a worse performing Greystones Primary School, but that is where the children for Dobcroft catchment will increasingly be funneled towards.

Therefore instead of funneling children into a few already too big over populated schools set for further expansion in numbers, it would be infinitely better to expand the number of places by a more manageable amount in the schools where parents actually want to send their children. For that is what logic dictates but politicians are not motivated by logic but by social engineering, thinking along the lines of what would both maintain and increase the number of Labour voters in an area so as to bolster votes at elections.

Election Year School Places Panic - Dobcroft 33% Increase

Whilst there may still be some snow left outside the gates of many of Sheffield's best state schools but the city council has attempted to blast away the BIG FREEZE in school places that would soon have resulted in parent (voter) outrage by apparently pulling a magic rabbit out of the hat by conjuring 33% extra school places into existence (from 90 to 120 places) at Dobcroft Infant Schools 2015 intake.

All without any consultation with the School as illustrated by a letter from the Chair of School Governors which states:

“The school was given no choice over the 2015 decision."

“This is being addressed through an ongoing dialogue with senior council officers, through which we have vigorously questioned their decision-making process for both 2015 and 2016."

“This is being addressed through an ongoing dialogue with senior council officers, through which we have vigorously questioned their decision-making process for both 2015 and 2016.

“We share many of your concerns, as parents ourselves, and appreciate that it is a very emotive subject. We remain focused on the key issues and will continue to work tirelessly in the interests of the school pupils.”

This follows some 7 months on from when I wrote that the provision for school places should be created at high demand schools such as Dobcroft, where parents actually wanted to send their children rather than the baldrick-esk policy the Labour run council had implemented. However, clearly this is an obvious election panic move for the extra intake is provisionally only for 2015 and that unlike the expansion of Greystones School which had been well planned for and announced early 2014, the Dobcroft announcement is without any planning on where the extra children will be taught as the school is already stuffed to the rafters with many children near permanently taught in porta cabins.

Whilst the city council has made the right decision to expand the number of places at Dobcroft Infant school by 33%. However the way it has been announced out of the blue within a few months of the general election, all without any consultation with the school or parents reeks of a panic move from preventing the school places crisis from exploding into an major election issue, because as far as I am aware the plans for where the extra 1/3rd of children will go has yet to be worked out which probably means more porta cabins are going to be hastily shipped in over the summer months that just like the existing ones will become a permanent fixture.

Meanwhile, at least some of Sheffield's smug middle class parents can sleep easy knowing that their child will now likely get a place in April's school places announcement, even though the school they attend looks set to crash out of the top of the school league tables as a consequence of the chaos that the expansion without planning will wreck on Dobcroft Infant school. Though perhaps this is the true agenda behind the method, a master plan for social engineering towards the averaging of all of Sheffield's school performances so that critical over subscription crisis no longer arise. If so it's not going to work for the performance of good schools has ALWAYS been a case of its the PARENTS and NOT anything particularly different or special about the School or its teachers.

Where Sheffield's school places crisis is concerned, if the city council seriously intends on addressing it then there two clear solutions -

Short-term - Expand places at ALL of Sheffield's high demand schools, but to do it in a properly planned manner, not as an election panic move. However the issue here is there is a limit to what site can be expanded to i.e. roads and local infrastructure.

Long-term - A NEW Primary / Junior school in the high demand area of the city.

Source and Comments: http://www.marketoracle.co.uk/Article49356.html

By Nadeem Walayat

http://www.marketoracle.co.uk

Copyright © 2005-2015 Marketoracle.co.uk (Market Oracle Ltd). All rights reserved.

Nadeem Walayat has over 25 years experience of trading derivatives, portfolio management and analysing the financial markets, including one of few who both anticipated and Beat the 1987 Crash. Nadeem's forward looking analysis focuses on UK inflation, economy, interest rates and housing market. He is the author of five ebook's in the The Inflation Mega-Trend and Stocks Stealth Bull Market series that can be downloaded for Free.

Housing Markets Forecast 2014-2018The Stocks Stealth Bull Market 2013 and Beyond EbookThe Stocks Stealth Bull Market Update 2011 EbookThe Interest Rate Mega-Trend EbookThe Inflation Mega-trend Ebook

Nadeem is the Editor of The Market Oracle, a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication that presents in-depth analysis from over 1000 experienced analysts on a range of views of the probable direction of the financial markets, thus enabling our readers to arrive at an informed opinion on future market direction. http://www.marketoracle.co.uk

Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any trading losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisors before engaging in any trading activities.

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