Sheffield School Places Crisis Judgment Day for Secondary School Applications 2016Local / Sheffield Mar 01, 2016 - 07:25 AM GMT
It's crunch time for the parents of Sheffield's children starting secondary school this year as today they will find out whether their child has obtained a place at their preferred / catchment area school or not. Or as has been increasingly the case during the past few years are disappointed by the outcome as they contemplate appealing. A crisis due to a number of factors that include continuing out of control eastern european migration, year on year cuts in school budgets and rampant school applications fraud all contributing towards a crisis in school places.
Applicants opting to receive their decision by email will have received their school place offers shortly after midnight. Whilst those opting to receive by post won't have to wait for the postman to arrive today for they will likely have received the offer letters YESTERDAY, on the 29th of February as Sheffield's School Admission team apparently forgot that 2016 is a leap year and so letters were sent out a day early.
The crisis in school places has been building for over a decade which finally prompted the city council to start take action in 2014 and 2015 via a series of announcements to expand those schools most in demand, namely situated in the affluent areas of the city as illustrated by the following map.
Year on year budget cuts played a significant part in laying the groundwork for a perfect storm in Sheffield School places as I have covered may times over the years, warning of a building crisis -
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).
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.
However, what flipped the city council into full blown panic mode was the large influx of eastern european migrants, the most recent wave of which are approx 5,000 Roma migrants that triggered rampant school applications fraud as many parents have desperately sought to have their child placed out of the areas they reside in and literally stealing places from in-catchment area children. Triggering the council into action to expand sheffield's best schools whether or not the Schools and the in-catchment parents agreed with the expansion plans or not.
Since which Schools such as Dobcroft have desperately fought a losing battle against expansion plans involving much lobbying, campaigning and demonstrations outside of the Town Hall.
The most recent developments include plans for expanding probably Sheffield's best secondary school, Silverdale by 60 places or about 30% for several years until a new secondary school situated in Millhouses is built, though it should be noted that the area already did have a nearby secondary school that was demolished barely 2 years ago! (Abbeydale Grange) because parents did not want to send their children to the then bottom ranking school. As well as further proposals to expand a whole host of infants and junior schools such as Ecclesall Infant School.
Furthermore Abbeydale Grange illustrates one of the major issues at the heart of the matter which is that despite far less funding, affluent area schools are consistently able to rank towards the top of Sheffield's school league tables because of the fundamental fact that it is NOT the teachers that determine whether a state school performs well but rather it is the PARENTS! As the teachers are of virtually the same caliber right across all state schools.
In reality average state schools can only become good state schools because the PARENTS of the children go out of their way to educate their children far beyond the capability of what the schools teach. Therefore it is the middle class 'pushy' parents who through extracurricular activities and actively pushing the state schools to outperform through a myriad of suggested activities and financial contributions that turns an ordinary state school into a good state school. Conversely populating a good state school with children of parents who do not do the same is just going to eventually result in that good state school becoming just another bottom ranking school.
This has already happened several times before in Sheffield, for instance the Labour City council had a Baldrick-esk cunning plan to open up one of Sheffield's best state schools at the time (early 1990's), Abbeydale Grange to out of catchment children, that given its high league table standing was soon swamped that subsequently resulted in the school going from being one of the best ranked schools in the city to literally the worst all within a few years, where it got to the point that NO parent wanted to send their child to Abbeydale Grange which ultimately resulted in the school being closed down some 4 years ago (now demolished). That's what happens to good state schools when they are opened up to outside of catchment or continue to allow rampant fraud in school place applications that blights Sheffield's affluent schools due to lack of any real consequences.
Against this ivory tower academics periodically produce studies that the mainstream press eagerly regurgitate that literally state that affluent parents tend to hog places at Sheffield's best schools, studies that are clearly devoid of the commonsense to realise that it is the affluent parents who are responsible for the existence of the good state schools in the first place, for if it were a question of funding then the school league tables would be in reverse order as on average affluent schools tend to receive about 30% less per pupil than the schools in less affluent areas. Instead what academics recommend is a recipe for disaster, one of of turning ALL of Sheffield schools into bottom ranking schools, ALL under performing, forcing affluent parents to ultimately take the leap into private schooling, leaving behind literally a city wide waste of schools that no parents want to send their children to!
Migrant Crisis Consequences
Even the usually politically correct BBC has been busy in a string of Look North news programmes broadcasting the consequences of Sheffield's Roma migration on Sheffield's schools by focusing on the epicentre of Hinde House secondary school as the local catchment area school for Page Hall / Firth Park -
BBC Look North News reporting on the crisis
A parent who has taken her children out of the school stated:
"I don't think hinde house school is safe no more for my children."
There's a lot of gangs, a lot of beating people up and its just not safe"
"Its the slovakian Roma's what are sticking in the same gangs all of the time, people have tried to involved them what they are doing but they just do not want to join in, in anything just stick in their gangs , intimidating our kids and scaring our kids".
And more recently the mainstream broadcast media tried to jump on board the Sheffield migrant crisis bandwagon that resulted in Channel 4's highly scripted fantasy portrayal of the Page Hall area of Sheffield "Keeping Up with the Khans" that completely ignored the social consequences in terms of housing, health services and on schools amongst others, a series that in large part amounted to little more than singing and dancing in the streets which prompted this local alternative that apparently has garnered more interest on youtube at least than Channel 4's clips.
And where episode 4 focused on the ongoing consequences of migration on not just Sheffield but for much of Britain.
And where the EU Referendum is concerned then my opinion remains that this is Britain's VERY LAST chance to vote for FREEDOM from an emerging european superstate as the following illustrates why -
Britain's Last Chance to Gain Freedom from Emerging European Super State
What most pundits fail to recognise or lack experience of is trend and momentum both of which for the past 40 years have been moving in one direction that for the emergence of a highly centralised European super state that the financial crisis and subsequent economic depression of southern europe is accelerating the trend towards.
So whilst it is too late for the euro-zone members who for better or worse are locked into a death embrace that has all but nullified democracy for most of the euro-zone states as the elections in Greece, Spain and Italy have clearly demonstrated the lack for even radical governments such as Syriza to do anything other than obey their German paymasters who control the euro currency and can within a couple of weeks bring fellow euro-zone members to the brink of collapse as was repeatedly demonstrated by Greece last year.
Thus, for Britain the saving grace of not being in the euro-zone offers the UK a unique final opportunity to make the choice of either FREEDOM or become another satellite state revolving around a German centre that will increasingly dictate terms and conditions.
Therefore, given that there would probably not be another referendum for at least 20 years, then this really is Britain's VERY LAST CHANCE. There WON'T be another opportunity because with each passing year the price for a BREXIT increases, and we are not that far off from the point of no return when an exit would result in an economic collapse, much of the situation the euro-zone members have been since they signed up to scrap their currencies and join the Euro-zone.
Of course both the LEAVE and the REMAIN camps put out a lot of propaganda and spin on the others consequences. For LEAVE it's a case of everything smelling of roses in a Britain that has been freed from increasing European bureaucracy and interference, that would be in full control of Britain's borders. Whilst the REMAIN camp paints a picture of FEAR, of economic and financial catastrophe coupled with punitive terms for exit that would seek to punish Britain for daring to exit the euro-zone, so much for so-called european unity built on common purpose and friendship instead the European Union is increasingly a club of FEAR and PARALYSIS.
The Price for Freedom
The truth is that a BREXIT WILL BE ECONOMICALLY PAINFUL despite all of the benefits of being outside of the E.U. The cost of BrExit will be anywhere from 2% to as high as 5% of GDP if the euro-zone is determined to make an example of Britain to act as a warning to others by raising punitive tariffs on trade. However remember that attaining FREEDOM ALWAYS carry's a PRICE, in which respect even the worst case scenario for a 5% loss of GDP in the grand scheme of things does not compare against the infinitely greater price the people of Britain paid for their freedom in both past World Wars and so it is now THIS generations turn to pay a price for the freedom of future generations.
What the people of Britain need to fully understand is that this really is their VERY LAST CHANCE for Freedom!
The bottom line is that if Sheffield's affluent parents abandon Sheffield's state schools then there won't be any good state schools left in Sheffield!
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By Nadeem Walayat
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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.
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