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Sheffield School Applications Crisis Eased by New Secondary Schools Places

Local / Educating Children Sep 20, 2018 - 10:46 AM GMT

By: N_Walayat

Local

It looks like the city of Sheffield has finally turned the corner in respect of it's 8 year long self created crisis in school places with the opening of two new secondary schools Astrea in Burngreave and Mercia just south of Netheredge which will especially seek to take the pressure off of schools in the South West of the city Silverdale and High Storrs which have literally been swamped by over subscription, even after doubling the intake.


Mercia Academy, Carterknowle Road Construction

So whilst Sheffield's ruling Labour party councilors will have been publicising the opening of these two new state schools as well as expansion of several existing primary schools across the city that contribute towards the creation of 3000 new school places. However, the whole crisis in school places was self created as I warned would be the inevitable consequences of deep budget cuts in education spending that resulted in school closures and hence the loss of about 5000 school places as the following excerpt from my analysis of Mid 2013 illustrates.

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.

So we appear to have come full circle, where school children are pawns in the never ending battle between local councils and central government, creating pressures and bottlenecks to secure special grants and funding.

The following housing market centric map illustrates why Mercia school was built were it was, right on the very tip of Sheffield's affluent Green Zone and thus expected to take the pressure off of Sheffield's top ranking state schools, Silverdale and High Storrs that remain heavily over subscribed, and likely will continue to remain so due to lack of a track record at the new school.

Sheffield's Best Schools

So in the countdown to the 31st October school applications deadline (18th Oct online), students and their parents will be scouring Sheffield secondary schools performance league tables in making their application choices. However, the league tables can from time to time prove highly misleading as many of Sheffield's 38 or so Secondary schools / Academies for whatever reasons tend to exhibit volatility in performance from year to year. Therefore a currently high ranking school may not mean that the same level of performance will continue in subsequent years as it may have been subject to special measures, therefore a better methodology in the ranking of schools is to evaluate performance in terms of trend.

The following graph represents Sheffield's Top 18 Secondary schools out of a total of 38 rated in terms of consistency in attaining high rankings in the school league tables from 2001 to 2017 for 5 A-C GCSE Results.

The graph shows schools ranked as a percentage attaining 5 GCSE's at A-C, the grading system changed for most schools in 2017 to Attainment 8 Score, so data has been normalised as a % of top scoring school.

For another year the the top two rankings are taken by Independent schools, with the third being a Catholic faith school. Whilst Silverdale School (Academy) continues to rank as Sheffield's best state school in terms of consistency of trend, closely followed by Westbourne and Tapton Academy despite both scoring higher than Silverdale School for 2017 but rank lower due to higher volatility in results.

The next 2 state schools are High Storrs and King Ecgbert with little difference between the two. With Bradfield in 9th place which is probably the last of consistent schools.

The trend chart continues with fairly similar rankings for the next 3 schools, 10th Handsworth, 11th King Edward VII and 12th Meadowhead Academy. With the remaining 6 schools all ranking similar to Meadowhead.

Overall 2017 was a good year for Sheffield's schools as most managed to improve their GCSE results, with several new schools appearing on the scene as Sheffield city council finally got around to addressing the crisis in Sheffield's school places by building new schools, though of course which will lack any track record.

The bottom line is Sheffield's school places crisis is NOT over, schools such as Silverdale, High Storrs and Tapton will remain heavily over subscribed because that is where parents want to send their children to, and not the newly built Mercia or Astrea under the misguided assumption that sending their children to a good school will as if by magic break the cycle of under performance that tends to blight their local catchment area secondary school, likely encouraged by clueless ivory tower academics periodically producing studies that the mainstream press eagerly regurgitate which tend to state that affluent parents tend to hog places at Sheffield's best school:

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

Children in Sheffield’s poorer suburbs are having to travel further to get into higher performing primary schools – while those in wealthier areas are likelier to attend one on their doorstep.

The fact that so many good schools have overlapping areas of influence in the wealthiest neighbourhoods helps to explain a lot the persistent advantage in those neighbourhoods, including high house values, over time.

Studies that are ignorant of the fundamental fact 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 area schools. 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 land of schools that no parents want to send their children to!

Therefore good schools are good because the parents of children in affluent areas tend to spend a lot of time, money and effort on their children's educations, so parents who don't do the same traipsing their children half way across the city are NOT going to reap any significant benefit, not unless they also do what the parents of affluent school children do in respect of their education. All that will happen is an erosion in the performance of the good schools results as we have been witnessing with Silverdale School.

Good parents make good schools!

Nadeem Walayat

http://www.marketoracle.co.uk

Copyright © 2005-2018 Marketoracle.co.uk (Market Oracle Ltd). All rights reserved.

Nadeem Walayat has over 30 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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