A surge in applications for September 2013 entry at Bradley Stoke Community School (BSCS) has left scores of parents frustrated at not being able to get their children into the town’s only secondary school.
The school has been oversubscribed in almost every year since it opened in 2005, resulting in many local children having to travel to centres in neighbouring areas such as Patchway, Stoke Gifford and Winterbourne.
Whereas in 2012 there were 222 first-preference applications for the 180 places available at BSCS, that number has risen to 252 this year, despite a ‘demographic dip’ working its way through local primary schools.
Parents received notification letters last Friday (1st March) and a number of those who didn’t get their first preference school expressed their frustration on social media channels.
Local campaigner Caroline Sullivan, tweeted:
“Yet again BS North kids have been excluded from the community school for 2013 admissions!”
Another tweeter expressed disappointment at not getting a place at BSCS for their child, despite living only 0.8 mile from the school.
Mrs Sullivan told The Journal:
“The admission criteria at BSCS have long been a contentious issue for parents of Bradley Stoke North children. I have been campaigning long and hard for the last year for more children in the Bradley Stoke North and South areas to be admitted to this school rather than those children from surrounding areas like Stoke Gifford and Patchway.”
“These areas have their own schools that are constantly under-subscribed and as a result Bradley Stoke children are denied a place in their own local school and have to travel sometimes up to 6 miles out of area at considerable cost to the family.”
“Despite having involved our local MP, Jack Lopresti, and having had contact with South Gloucestershire Council (SGC) and the Bradley Stoke Community School Executive Head, it appears to have made no difference and this issue continues to divide a community.”
Figures recently published by SGC show that Patchway Community College received just 74 first-preference applications for its 180 places and Abbeywood Community School 82 (also for 180 available places).
The Abbeywood applications are down significantly from 123 last year, possibly as a result of the school being placed into ‘special measures’ by Ofsted in December 2011. Since then, the school has become academy, joining BSCS as part of the Olympus Academy Trust.
Responding to criticism that places at BSCS were being offered to children from Stoke Gifford and Patchway, the school’s Executive Headteacher Dave Baker said:
“Once we take out local siblings (i.e. siblings in families who live in the shared area of responsibility), Special Educational Needs (SEN) statements and looked after children, all the families [of this year’s successful applicants] live in BS32, apart from 17, the majority of whom live in BS34 and are within 0.737 mile of the school.”
Mr Baker, who is also the Executive Head at Abbeywood, added:
“The demographic dip meant that no other local secondary schools were oversubscribed on first preference (on time) applications, as far as I am aware, so it should mean that all unsuccessful applicants for places at Bradley Stoke have been offered a place at a school judged “good” by Ofsted or showing “good progress” (Abbeywood).”
“From the Olympus Academy Trust perspective, working in partnership with Abbeywood Community School is about ensuring rapid improvement so that families will want their children to attend Abbeywood in the future and this may take some pressure off Bradley Stoke Community School from within the southern part of Bradley Stoke.”
More reaction on Twitter
Comments on The Journal’s Facebook page
Julie Summers: “It’s ridiculous yet again……over 0.737 miles away and you had no chance……what was the point of making it a Bradley Stoke school that no children in North Bradley Stoke can get in to!!!!”
Sue Norris: “Its not just North Bradley stoke that doesn’t get in, i live in Bradley stoke South and neither of my boys have got in to BSCS over the last few years. Both were given 3rd choice and now have to get a bus to school which takes 40-50 mins to get them there and takes them right past BSCS.They knew how many primary schools were in Bradley Stoke when they built BSCS and had enough grounds to build a bigger school so why did they not build it big enough to accommodate all the local children???”
Kate King: “My daughter didn’t get into BSCS when she left primary in 2009 – I live in Juniper Way. If the catchment area was visible we would have been able to see it out of her bedroom window! Having said that the school she IS at ended up being the most perfect fit for her, and I’m glad she didn’t go to BSCS! It really got my back up at the time – we went through appeal and everything. It has ceased to matter now as she is happy and thriving, an A grade student. It really isn’t the end of the world. Quite a few pupils have transferred TO her school FROM BSCS. Each to his/her own – not every school is right for every child. Even though we’re very happy I DO agree that the size of the school is a big issue, and incredibly ill-thought through.”
Related link: Schools in Bradley Stoke (The Journal)
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