East Reading residents are having good educational provision snatched away from them in an undemocratic fashion.

Fiona Lane's picture
 5
East Reading is being removed from the Designated Area ( catchment areas) of an outstanding comprehensive, Maiden Erlegh, their nearest, local school, which is situated just across the border in Wokingham borough. They are to be forced to walk considerably farther to a school judged only "satisfactory" and which has a poor reputation locally. At the same time, Reading's two "outstanding" grammar schools take very few Reading children, the majority coming in from Wokingham.
Wokingham Borough Council is determined to rid itself of educating Reading Borough Council children in its outstanding school even though education is funded nationally, and is quite content for its own children to be educated in Reading schools.
The East Reading part of the DA is economically, socially and racially not as advantaged as the area that WBC is to replace it with, which is situated much father away from the school. WBC closed the school that served this area. It has rushed through the changes as Maiden Erlegh became an academy and it knew it had to act fast to change the admissions system before it did not have the power to do so. Many less advantaged children in East Reading will miss out on an education their parents thought they had a realistic chance of getting, by living in the DA. Likewise, families who bought or rented their houses in the area farther away, knew that they were not in the DA. Few Reading families can afford to buy or rent a house in this area which is to replace them in the DA. WBC have achieved this by a convoluted method of a very complex tie-breaker which means that on paper, East Reading is in the DA, but in practice no child can obtain a place there.
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Comments

Harry Gosling's picture
Sat, 28/05/2011 - 08:07

Lets be honest, there are two satisfactory schools that are undersubscribed in Reading, that's a lot better than many other places in the country.

Fraser's picture
Sat, 28/05/2011 - 08:40

At the moment as I am just on the outside of the Maiden Erlegh catchment area I would have to travel past it to get to Bulmershe; so there needs to be change. I also found this statistic if it helps: "18 per cent of pupils attending Reading schools come from other areas, while 42 per cent of pupils residing in Reading attend schools in other council areas." Yes there needs to be change but surely through the development of a new one rather than through the damaging of 'outstanding' and extremely high achieving old ones.

Laura's picture
Sat, 28/05/2011 - 09:06

I'm going to first tackle your point about the grammar schools, then how I feel about the change of Maiden Erlegh catchment.

I'm assuming that when you say the majority of students come to the grammar schools from Wokingham, you mean they come in from the Wokingham Borough Council District of Reading. The problem here is, Earley is a region of WBC, where I myself live, and my commute to school was a mere 15 minute bus journey. Plenty of children travel this far to their comprehensive, and the children on the far side of East Reading have to travel exactly the same distance. Being in another 'borough' so to speak does not mean that you are necessarily further from the school.

Secondly, I live in Maiden Erlegh catchment, and my sister attends the school. By my going to Kendrick it in fact freed up a place for a child who did not live in the catchment to attend this very good school.

Now, the issue of the Maiden Erlegh catchement is one on which I'm divided.

On the one hand, I given your argument about how Kendrick and Reading should only take from Reading borough, I think that this would make Maiden Erlegh perfectly within their rights to only take children from Reading borough. Also, there are a number of other schools in the area around East Reading with excellent facilities, where all that it would take to transform them into excellent schools would be intellegent and enthusiastic pupils.

However, I can perfectly see the anger of many residents. Homeowners without children who live in East Reading would see their house value drop as a result of no longer being in the catchment, and those who were hoping to send children there and moved there with that purpose in mind are now unable to. This is a particular issue given the time frame of the catchment change being very small, not giving families the chance to move into the catchment.

Overall, I feel that a catchment change is reasonable, given the number of undersubscribed schools around Reading, however I do believe the speed with which the new catchment will be implemented is unfair, as it doesn't give families the chance to adjust for it.

Surely your time would be better spent campaigning for the catchment to change back, instead of ruining Reading and Kendrick?

Also, you seem to have forgotten that while the catchment change is taking a Maiden Erlegh place from a child now outside the catchment, it is giving the wonderful oppurtunity to a different child.

Harry Gosling's picture
Sat, 28/05/2011 - 09:41

I agree with Laura, parents anger needs not be taken out on the two grammar schools- ruining them will not help anything. For those in Lower Earley and Earley before the catchment change, getting into Maiden Erlgh was actually very difficult, and it was often that pupils from further away from the school attended. Now with these catchement changes, many pupils nearer to Maiden Erlgh are getting the places that they deserve. Moreover, Reading still has many schools to choose from: Bulmersche, Highdown, John Madejski Academy and Prospect; all of which gained satisfactory or better Ofsted reports. It is unfortunate yes that East reading residents no longer have the oppurtunity to apply for an outstanding comprehensive school, but the remaining schools are satisfactory, and the repuatation of Bulmersche really isn't deserved from what I have heard.

Fiona Lane's picture
Mon, 30/05/2011 - 18:05

Highdown, JMA and Blessed Hugh Farringdon are all over-subscribed, as was Bulmershe this year, none of them being local schools for those who live in East Reading. I am not suggesting ending selection, just pointing out that East Reading children get a poor deal. They are told that they are not allowed to go to a school outside the borough, even though it is only a few minutes walk away, while having two grammars that educate only a few of them and yet many more who live farther away. If people in neighbouring boroughs are happy to use these outstanding grammar schools they ought to accept that RBC needs to educate its own children, too.

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