Leigh's School catchment areas consultation

By Times Reporter in Community News

LEIGH’s three main schools, West Leigh, Leigh North Street and Chalkwell are now so popular and this, coupled with a boost recent boost in the birth rate, means that parents in the existing catchment areas could find it impossible to get their children into these schools in future.

Southend Council are, therefore, launching a consultation on a proposal to solve the situation by reducing the size of the catchment areas for these schools while increasing the catchment areas for neighbouring schools Darlinghurst and Eastwood Primary while moving the borders of Blenheim and Fairways - so that they can take the pressure of the other schools.

Southend Council’s Cabinet were told last week: “From 2019 onwards, forecast data for Southend, taken from births and trends in admission, predict that there are specific risk areas where meeting catchment preferences are likely to worsen over the coming years, Leigh causing the greatest immediate concern.

“The overall births for the cluster are usually in the region of 550 to 600 with 660 places currently available. However births and forecasting data from 2019 onwards have now overtaken catchment places in West Leigh, Leigh North Street and Chalkwell Hall. The majority of schools within the Leigh area are community schools and as such the local authority is responsible for consulting on any proposed changes for these schools including catchment areas.

“The reasoning behind a catchment consultation for this area is to increase the future likelihood of a parent having a reasonable expectation for admission to their catchment school in the south Leigh area, which from 2019 will be slim for those living furthest from the school.

“Schools affected by the proposed changes are both community and own admission authority and therefore would require consent of all parties to implement any change.”

The proposal is to begin the consultation in July before the end of the school summer term. This allows schools to distribute communications to all existing families attending the schools as well as distributing information via pre-schools, nurseries and children centres, allowing for a wide spread of information sharing and engagement with as little disruption to schools as possible.

The consultation would run throughout the summer holiday, ending on September 22.

Results of the consultation will be reported to cabinet for final decision on any proposed change prior to the official consultation period in the autumn term. Any changes would be introduced for the 2019-20 school year.

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M W · 5 days ago · Report

Unfortunately this has to happen, regardless of house prices. Having a house in a good school catchment area that has 0% chance of actually having children admitted to that school serves only a house value/snobbery purpose. Children living west of Thames Drive and Northern Highlands Blvd will end up having to travel past two schools to Darlinghurst because they can’t get in....

M W · 5 days ago · Report

Children in Marguerite Dr and Cliffsea Grove will end up at Darlignhurst because North St and Chalkwell will be full. And this is already happening. The fact is Darlinghurst isn't filling it's intake from its catchment because it has grown but the boundaries haven't.

Mrs C, Chalkwell · 10 days ago · Report

And as the first two commenters suggest, the redraw affects many more within these areas than just those who currently have children that go to school. I would also wish to have my say, as a property owner within the area whilst my children are currently younger than school age. It is not much to ask for the local community to be consulted and not just current school parents.

Mrs C, Chalkwell · 10 days ago · Report

...It may come as a surprise to you, but many of us are not keen gamblers and thus have not wanted to 'gamble' with our children's education and futures by sending them to an unreliable poorly performing school! Hence buying homes in roads that have always been well within catchment areas for good performing schools, thus avoiding the usual extent of any catchment revisions.

Mrs C, Chalkwell · 10 days ago · Report

You talk about having fight and drive for increasing standards for everyone's children but you are being very idealistic and unrealistic. With families in good school areas having already taken on additional mortgage debt, they've already allocated their extra 'fight and drive' time and resources to try and provide extra for their family. Yes, catchment redraws obviously do occur and have occurred in the past, however not to the radical extent that is currently being proposed...

Si B · 10 days ago · Report

If you care enough to move house to give your kids a better education, then your fight & drive will be invaluable to a school that hasn't performed so well in the past - for all the kids there. You could see it as an investment in the price of your home, too :) Buying a house is always a gamble. Planning gets granted on a new block of flats that blocks your view; catchment areas change as local demographics change. Win some, lose some. That's gambling for you!

Mrs C, Chalkwell · 10 days ago · Report

...Obviously a large problem exists when you have an outstanding school being swapped for one that has always had a poor reputation.

Mrs C, Chalkwell · 10 days ago · Report

...This is something that obviously affects peoples lives going forwards and not just when their children are of school age?! It is also crazy that as things currently stand you can live 3 minutes walking distance from a school and not be within it's catchment. I have no idea what the solution is but the council would certainly do well to consult all residents within catchment areas...

Mrs C, Chalkwell · 10 days ago · Report

True, it's about kids education but you can't ignore the fact that people will have bought homes in specific areas to ensure their children can go to a certain school. How is it fair, if you've done this to ensure your child can attend a well performing school, that you are suddenly in the position of having your catchment changed to a poorly performing school - one that you do not want your child to attend - and you've taken on additional mortgage debt to avoid this?!...

Si B · 11 days ago · Report

Surely this is about fairness and opportunity for our children? What have house prices got to do with it? Buying a house is a gamble; kids' educations shouldn't be.

Mrs Braun · 25 days ago · Report

Local residents need also to be aware of this and to have their say. I live very close to one of the popular schools. You'd never believe that it's been proposed that my home may be removed from its catchment given that I live a mere 3 doors away! This would seriously impact the value of my home and is, quite frankly, ridiculous!!!! My three children have all gone there and I should not have to fight fo this!

Gillian Grimwood · 25 days ago · Report

I'd like to see the local community invite to a town hall with the both town councils. This situation is out of hand. Catchments are proposperous. The catchments should be changed to a radius format to ensure that children are going to their nearest schools. The only affect this new scheme will have is increasing house prices within catchments and decreasing the rest and the councils are entirely to blame.

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