Gosforth eFocus No 33 - 4th May 2015

May 5, 2015 9:35 AM

APPLICATION FOR SCHOOL RECEPTION CLASSES

There has been a great deal of anxiety about this, and claims about children not getting their choices. So this edition of eFocus majors on the subject, and in particular the principles of place allocation, although there's plenty more information about other issues below too.

We asked council officials for clarification about Parklands Ward. Ahead of a detailed report, and a possible discussion at a Ward meeting ahead of next year's application, we have been told that there are very few parents who have not secured one of their expressed preferences - only 3 out of 149 applications (this is better in percentage terms than both the "national average" and NE regional average for 2014/15 - the last available comparative statistics.

ADMISSION ARRANGEMENTS IN NEWCASTLE

By law, all parents have to apply for school places. The local authority has responsibility for co-ordinating admissions across the city to ensure every child has an offer of one school place. The local authority is the admission authority for community schools. Faith schools and academies are their own admission authorities.

When a school is oversubscribed, the law requires oversubscription criteria to.be applied to ensure places are allocated fairly, in accordance with the admission policy and up to the published admission number. The criteria applied in Newcastle for reception places in community schools in priority order are

(1) Looked after children,

(2) children with an older sibling at the school,

(3) children with a specific medical reason to go to the school,

(4) children living closest to the school as the crow flies.

Legislation limits the size of classes in reception, year 1 or year 2 to a maximum of 30pupils per class with one class teacher. Once the admission number for the school is reached, the admission authority is unable to admit any further children if to do so will breach the statutory class size limit of 30 either in the current year or in future years.

In Newcastle, parents are allowed to list four preferences for a school place and each is treated as a separate (equal) application. If more than one school can offer a child a school place, they will be offered whichever of those schools was ranked highest on the application.

BRUNTON FIRST SCHOOL

Capacity to 90 for reception in September 2015, by turning the staff room into a class room and decamping staff to an area of the library/open access area. There is physically no more space as the school was built for two form entry only including dining room, class rooms, toilets and outside space.

The school cannot go to permanent 3 form entry without a major build of 4 new class rooms and staff room at a minimum and it will need to consult and get planning permission as well as sort parking and outside space which would be reduced further by any build.

There were 194 applications for Brunton First School, 90 got in , 32 were siblings the rest were on distance - no one is more than 1/2 mile from school apart from 2 siblings who are in North Tyneside at edge of Wideopen (see below).

SCHOOL PLACES FOR CHILDREN MOVING INTO THE AREA

Statutory legislation states that school places cannot be withheld for children that may move into an area at a later date. If someone applies for a place and there is a space in the school, it must be offered. This means that children out of an area have a legal right to a place in a school if there is a space to offer. Schools are also bound by legislation about infant class size, meaning that there can be no more than 30 children in a class in Reception, Year 1 or Year 2 where there is only one qualified teacher. These two issues can unfortunately combine to mean that children moving into an area where schools are popular may find it difficult to get a place in a local school where there is very little movement on the school roll.

SCHOOL PLACES - APPEALS

Legislation also states that parents have the right of appeal to an independent appeals panel if they are refused a place in a school. If the parent feels that the appeal was not conducted properly, they have a further right to complain to the Local Government Ombudsman who will investigate the alleged maladministration. The Ombudsman has no power to overturn the outcome of the appeal and allocate a school place, but may instruct that a new appeal is heard by a different panel if they feel there was anything improper on the first occasion.

BIG PEDAL CHAMPS - GRANGE TOP OF THE TOON (AGAIN)

Once again the Grange First School children and parents led the way in the Big Pedal. Grange children and parents made over 1000 journeys as part of Big Pedal and helped to make their school environment a more pleasant and safer place. Grange First came first out of all Newcastle schools and 55th out of every school in the country! On average of 59% of children pedalled or scootered to school each day. They hope to keep this up over the summer term and once again reduce the numbers of cars driving or parking near school.

Separately, judging in the GEMS road safety poster competition will take place after the election and the winning entry will be copied to every home in Parklands

GOSFORTH CORRIDOR IMPROVEMENTS (GREAT NORTH ROAD CHANGES)

Newcastle City Council is about to start works northbound between Grange Shops and Broadway roundabout but is now proposing to change the design to allow for more parking for residents than the original proposals gave. But to maintain parking for residents in a restricted street and provide a safer solution for cyclists officials have decided to route the cycle lane behind the area of parked cars in front of the odd numbered properties on Great North Road (approximately No.95 to No.139). This is instead of providing an on-road cycle lane, which would have to be crossed by vehicles driving on and off the tarmac verge.

There will be some disruption during the work in coming weeks from a new kerb line and widening of the tarmac verge. Completion is anticipated by the end of June.

We are deeply concerned that ward councillors only found out about the change of plan when a concerned resident made contact. A plan has been requested but ward councillors have been told there isn't one available at present!

RED HOUSE FARM FC

On Monday April 27 Council officials received another complaint about coaches and players allegedly urinating in shrubs/bushes at the playing fields north of Kingston Park Road. They have written to Red House Farm FC pointing out that the club has suitable facilities on site and therefore have no excuses for this behaviour; it is not acceptable and will not be tolerated by the Council or members of the public.

As this matter is a criminal offence, under Section 5 of the public Order Act 1986, it has been discussed with the police. The Council has also pointed out that failure for this matter to be addressed could lead to pitch permits being withdrawn and so the club's help and support to stamp out the practice has been requested.

BRUNTON PARK FLOOD ALLEVIATION SCHEME

Road works have been carried out as works are being completed. Councillors have been told that final reinstatements will be carried out in accordance with the requirements of the New Roads and Street Works Act 1992. Clarification of what this means in practice is awaited.

FLOWERS ON THE GREAT NORTH ROAD

As a result of a new relationship struck up with the award winning Three Mile Allotments group after they successfully applied for a grant, discussions are at an advanced stage under which the Parklands Ward Committee will supply planter tubs, the allotment holders will plant them, and local traders and people will maintain them. We hope this will improve the visual impact of stretches of the Great North Road south of those currently decorated by North Gosforth Parish Council.

WOMEN ONLY SWIMMING

There is some demand for this. Gosforth Pool has a women only swimming session from 5.30pm until 8.45pm every Tuesday evening. This sessions includes an Aquafit (low impact aerobic type activity in water) class at 5.45pm and some women only swimming lessons at 5.45 and 6.30pm.

They also have women only sessions in the sauna Tuesday 7.00am - 8.30pm and Thursday 7.00am - 4.00pm.

There may be some male staff will be working on the pool and checking the sauna area during these hours.

There are also women only swimming sessions in the Studio Pool, Elswick:

Tuesday 14.45 - 15.45 & 19.00 - 20.00

Thursday 12.10 - 12.50 & 19.00 - 20.00

They also have a women only Aquafit onTuesday and Thursday 18.15 - 19.00

ASSISTED BIN LIFT SCHEME

For those who cannot put their own bins out. The criterion which has to be met in order to qualify to be on Assisted Lift Scheme is : People who are infirm, or have a medical condition or disability, restricting their ability to wheel out the bin for collection are eligible for help. But if there are able bodied people in the household capable of putting the bin out you are not entitled to an assisted lift.

Do you have a qualifying reason which prevents you from putting your bin out? Contact Envirocall on 0191 278 7878

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