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Sheffield Schools Crisis, Why 2017 Will be Worst Year Ever for School Place Admissions

Politics / Sheffield Jan 29, 2017 - 03:22 PM GMT

By: N_Walayat

Politics

It will soon be crunch time for the parents of Sheffield's children starting secondary school this year as 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 going to be disappointed by the outcome as they contemplate the stressful process of appealing. A crisis due to a number of factors including that which prompted latest years BrExit vote. A Sheffield schools crisis that in large part has been the city councils own making, regardless of the party in power as the council has been determined in a continuation of the crisis that has no end in sight.


The crisis in school places has been building for over a decade which finally prompted the city council to start take some 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.

The root of Sheffield's school crisis lies in the year on year budget cuts that coupled with out of control EU migration paved the way for a perfect storm in Sheffield School places as I have covered may times over the years, warning of a building crisis that was ripe for political consequences such as BrExit -

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

However, 3 1/2 years on from my above analysis the situation has just continued to worsen with each passing year as now the Sheffield education nominal budget has been cut from £531 million for 2010/11 to just £379 million for 2015/16, a 28% cut in the education budget! Whilst in real-terms after inflation the budget has been cut by a catastrophic 36%! When one considers the degree to which the education budget has been slashed then it is no wonder that ALL Sheffield Schools are facing a crisis, a crisis that the city council has done a good propaganda job of masking the reality of so far. This truly is having a catastrophic consequences on the education prospects for ALL of Sheffield's children.

The impact of these budget cuts on child places in effect reverses the picture of more 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 approx 4,000 school places. However since 2011 deep cuts in the education budget in real terms has reversed the situation from a an estimated 4,000 surplus places to today standing at an implied funding deficit equivalent to 16,000 places as of 2015-16, i.e. a cut of 20,000 school places through school closures and reductions in the number of classes on average running at existing schools. 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 2017 school places will be for far more families to face the crisis of failure to attain a place in catchment area schools even if siblings attend the school due to an estimated deficit of 16,000 school places which will result 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 PAYE 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, i.e. approx 7,000 Roma migrants that triggered rampant school applications fraud as many parents have each year 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 better 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.

Further developments include expanding the intake at one of Sheffield's best secondary school, Silverdale by 60 places or about 30% for several years until a new secondary school situated off Carterknowle Road is built, though it should be noted that the area already did have a nearby secondary school that was demolished barely 3 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 and Dobcroft Schools.

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 system.

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 short 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 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 total 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!

The Star - Pupils from posh suburbs hog Sheffield’s best school, report reveals

At the heart of Sheffield's school crisis is the lack of funding for school places, for the city council cannot cut the education budget by 36% in real terms and then pretend that this fact has not directly resulted in today's city wide schools crisis that is destined to ruin ALL of Sheffield's schools. The bottom line is that if Sheffield's affluent parents are forced to abandon Sheffield's state schools then there won't be any good state schools left in Sheffield!

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The Trump Reset - 2 The Putin Doctrine

By Nadeem Walayat

http://www.marketoracle.co.uk

Copyright © 2005-2017 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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