SchoolGuru Kent Blog General news from the site Honours awards for Hertfordshire headmistress <p>Congratulations to Watford Grammar School for Girls headmistress, Helen Hyde, who has been appointed dame in the New Years Honours. Dame Helen Hyde was honoured after serving as head of the school for a quarter of a century. Additional roles include president of Freedom and Autonomy for Schools &ndash; National Association and fellow in Holocaust studies at the Imperial War Museum.</p> (Lindsay Robertson) Sunday, Jan 6, 2013 12:00:00 GMT Planning to move to the UK with your children? <p>Looking for an English school for your child? It's a jungle out there, but we'll help you through it. Read on...</p> <h2>1. How far ahead should I start researching schools?&nbsp;</h2> <p>Um... now? We&rsquo;ve had enquiries from women who aren&rsquo;t even pregnant, but just like planning ahead. However you have to bear in mind that schools can change dramatically over time - eg a sink school could become a desirable school with a change of head. We've seen this happen. Of course the reverse can happen too&hellip;</p> <h2>2. So, how do I suss out schools in the UK?&nbsp;</h2> <p>Use local sources, if you can, to find out about a school's reputation (friends, community websites, social networks etc). Plus look at the most recent Ofsted reports and exam results. Also, check out the schools' websites &ndash; and if you can, arrange to visit them during term time. There&rsquo;s no substitute to seeing how happy the children look, and being able to assess the staff, facilities, and environment for yourself. Consider whether your child would thrive there. Also, be brave, and talk to parents outside the school gates. We did &ndash; and once people realised we weren&rsquo;t trying to sell them something, they were very helpful...</p> <h2>3. How do I start applying for schools?</h2> <p>First of all, check which year your child will be in.&nbsp;</p> <p>Be aware of the deadlines if you're applying for schools at the conventional &nbsp;time - eg you want a Reception place at a primary school, or a Year 7 place at a secondary school. Make sure that you&rsquo;re living in the UK by then, so that you can submit an on time application. If you miss the deadline, your form will be processed after everyone else&rsquo;s &ndash; reducing your chances of getting the school(s) you want. &nbsp;You'll need to be based here for your application to be accepted.&nbsp;</p> <p>If you're applying for an In Year place (ie not at the usual time) you normally won't be offered a school place until you're living in the UK (or can prove that you'll be here within two weeks and can take up a place within that period). The exception is if you're in the armed services and can provide an official letter showing your relocation date, unit postal address and quartering area address. Contact your local County Council, and ask which schools have spaces. Do some phoning around yourself (or email if it's easier). You may be asked to provide proof of residency (eg an endorsed passport or entry visa).</p> <p>If you own a house in England, you can't use it as your address until you're back here and your child is living in it (for at least the majority of the week).&nbsp;</p> <h2>4. Do I have a right to a school in England?</h2> <p>All children (aged 5-16) have a right of access to education. If you've moved to England, you can apply for a maintained school, academy or free school regardless of your child&rsquo;s immigration status. However, different rules operate if you&rsquo;re not in the UK yet. For more information, visit <a title="Direct Gov" href="" target="_blank">Gov.UK's website</a>.</p> <p>Please note that if you're only here for a short period (eg half a term) you may be refused admission to a school.&nbsp;</p> <p>Private or independent schools are another story. Just get your bag of cash out and tell them what you want.</p> <p><span style="font-size: 15px; font-weight: bold;">5. Do you think it's OK to phone or email the schools?&nbsp;</span></p> <p>Yes &ndash; be proactive. Not only will you get direct access to information, but you&rsquo;ll get more insight into what the school is really like. While you&rsquo;re on the phone, ask them about school clubs, trumpet lessons&hellip; whatever you want. Beware: some receptionists bite. But don't let that put you off.&nbsp;</p> <h2>6. How can I find the &lsquo;hidden&rsquo; gems?&nbsp;</h2> <p>There are so many hidden gems in the UK &ndash; lovely, well equipped schools that are only undersubscribed because they&rsquo;re in small villages. You can use SchoolGuru to help you seek them out in Kent and Hertfordshire. For other areas, cast your net wide, phone around lots of schools, consider driving a little bit further&hellip; and see what you come up with.&nbsp;</p> <h2>7. The school I want is oversubscribed, what should I do now?&nbsp;</h2> <p>Look at their admissions&rsquo; criteria, which should be published on their website (or the County Council&rsquo;s). Then contact the school to ask for a realistic assessment of your chances. Don&rsquo;t assume anything until you know whether someone in your position would have got a place last year, the year before that, and so on&hellip;</p> <h2>8. Do I need to live in the same area as the school I want?</h2> <p>Not necessarily &ndash; you can apply to schools that aren&rsquo;t in your county, under the coordinated admissions scheme. But of course you might not get in. Many parents do travel long distances to get their children into the schools of their choice. However think of the logistics and don&rsquo;t underestimate the benefits of attending a local school &ndash; such as having friends nearby, and feeling part of the community. Weigh everything up carefully&hellip;</p> <h2>9. Is it OK to contact SchoolGuru for help if I find everything baffling?</h2> <p>Of course, if you're a member, we'd be pleased to help. &nbsp;Just join up and fire away...</p> <h2>10. Any final advice?</h2> <p>Try not to get too hung up on one particular school &ndash; cast your net wide, be as flexible as you can, and include at least one &lsquo;safe&rsquo; school in your preferences (or you risk not getting any of them and being allocated a school that can&rsquo;t fill its places. Make sure you send in your form on time, and provide any supporting documentation that you are asked for (eg a letter from your priest). If you don&rsquo;t get in on allocation day, go onto the waiting lists and stick with it. There&rsquo;s always a bit of movement and some people get offered places at the last minute&hellip; we were offered the primary school we wanted a week before term started. We&rsquo;d already bought the uniform for another school! So, be persistent, stay positive &ndash; and good luck!</p> (Lindsay Robertson) Tuesday, Nov 20, 2012 12:00:00 GMT Ooh! Simon Balle plans to open a primary phase… so how can you apply? <h3>Simon Balle School (final approval pending to open in September 2015)</h3> <p>Simon Balle School&rsquo;s new primary phase has not yet received final approval for opening in September 2015. Therefore it is not possible&nbsp;to apply&nbsp;for this school on Hertfordshire County Council&rsquo;s online application system.</p> <p>Determined admission arrangements for reception entry to Simon Balle can be found on Herts CC's&nbsp;<a href="">Admission Arrangements for 2015/16 page</a>.</p> <p><a href="">Please click here to make a separate online application for Simon Balle School.</a>&nbsp;(Reception entry for September 2015)</p> <p>Alternatively, a paper application form can be obtained from the school direct. Please return the form to:</p> <p>Simon&nbsp;Balle School&nbsp;Applications, Admissions and Transport, CHR 102, County Hall, Pegs Lane, Hertford, SG13 8DF</p> <p>Parents/carers applying for this school should also make an application, for up to four other schools, in the normal way through the HCC online application system.</p> <p>All applications must be received by 15 January 2015 at the latest.</p> <p>Applications for Simon Balle School will be processed separately and initially children may receive the offer of two school places. Applicants will be contacted about the removal of the duplicate offer after the new primary phase at Simon Balle School has received final approval.</p> %%BR5%% (Anonymous) Wednesday, Nov 26, 2014 12:00:00 GMT Alert! How to apply for new primary school in Cheshunt! <h3>St Mary's CE Primary School (proposed for opening in Cheshunt from September 2015)</h3> <p>St Mary&rsquo;s CE Primary School is a new free school that will be located on the same site as St Mary&rsquo;s CE High School. The school will open in September 2015.</p> <p>St Mary&rsquo;s CE Primary School will be running a separate application and allocation process from Hertfordshire County Council for entry in September 2015. It is not possible to&nbsp;apply for this school on Hertfordshire County Council&rsquo;s online application system.</p> <p>Application forms for St Mary&rsquo;s CE Primary School can be obtained from or from St Mary&rsquo;s CE High School, Lieutenant Ellis Way, Cheshunt, EN7 5FB.&nbsp;Paper forms should be&nbsp;returned:</p> <p><em>c/o the Head Teacher, Lieutenant Ellis Way, Waltham Cross, Cheshunt, EN7 5FB</em></p> <p>All applications must be received by<strong> Monday 8 December 2014</strong>. Places will be allocated on Monday 15 December 2014.</p> <p>Late applications received after Monday 8 December but before midnight on Monday 9 March 2015 will be considered in the second round of admissions and, if places remain allocations will be made on Monday 16 March 2015.</p> <p>Parents/carers applying to St Mary&rsquo;s CE Primary School&nbsp;should also make an application, for up to four other schools, in the normal way through the HCC online application system.</p> <p>As the&nbsp;application and allocation for St Mary&rsquo;s CE Primary School will be processed separately,&nbsp;children may receive the offer of two school places.&nbsp;Applicants will be contacted about the removal of the duplicate offer after primary national allocation day (16 April 2015).</p> %%BR5%% (Anonymous) Wednesday, Nov 26, 2014 12:00:00 GMT Help! Secret bloggers required. Calling all pupils, parents and teachers! <p>So here's the plan...</p> <p>We want to create a few bloggy things to get a 360<sup>0 </sup>perspective on school life. Please get in touch if you fancy filling any of these roles:</p> <h3>1. STUDENTS:</h3> <p>We'd love to hear from any students attending any of the <strong>Herts hot schools</strong> (you know the ones). We'd love to get a weekly round-up of what's going on &ndash; we're not after anything nasty and malicious, just an insight into school life. Ok youngsters, this might seem boring to you but it'll be a riveting read for us parents!</p> <p>Don't worry, both you and your school will remain anonymous.</p> <h3>2. PARENTS:</h3> <p><strong>Are you looking at applying for schools, going through an appeal, relocating to Herts?</strong> We'd love to get a regular update of what's going on &ndash; the highs and lows. Again, we're happy for you to remain anonymous (or not). It will be really useful for other parents, and we can offer you support.</p> <h3>3. TEACHERS:</h3> <p><strong>What's it really like dealing with our little darlings?</strong> And what's it like dealing with us parents! We'd love to get a regular update of your school week. Again, you and your school will remain anonymous.</p> <p>We'll edit your comments to ensure you can't be traced and make sure you're completely happy with the posts before they go public.</p> <p>Fancy it? Get in touch at</p> (Lindsay Robertson) Saturday, Feb 2, 2013 12:00:00 GMT St Albans Girls' School in top 100! <p>STAG's Headteacher, Margaret chapman, &nbsp;received a letter from David Laws, MP, Minister of State for Schools congratulating the school on its excellent GCSE performance. The measure looks at the results of students nationally and are based on 5 GCSEs in Mathematics, English and the student&rsquo;s three best other GCSEs. This places STAGs in the 100 top performing non-selective schools nationally.</p> <p>The league tables have been published which shows the students&rsquo; progress in the top 7% of schools nationally. 5 good GCSEs (93% A*-C grades) places STAGs at the top of the performance tables, with only selective or private schools performing better.</p> <p>The English Baccalaureate achievement of 69% places the school above all other non-selective and fee paying schools in the county. employment.</p> <p>David Laws congratulated students, staff and governors on this superb result in continuing the drive towards high standards of educational achievement.</p> (Lindsay Robertson) Monday, Feb 4, 2013 12:00:00 GMT St Albans Girls' School rated 'outstanding' by Ofsted <p>What a week!</p> <p>Following straight on from being placed in the 100 top performing non-selective state schools. We've just heard that STAGs has been given an 'outstanding' rating following their recent Ofsted inspection.</p> <p>Looks like this extremely popular St Albans school is getting hotter and hotter!</p> (Lindsay Robertson) Tuesday, Feb 5, 2013 12:00:00 GMT Consultation begins on proposal to enlarge Wheathampstead primary school <p>Herts CC are consulting residents on the proposed enlargement of St Helen's C of E Primary School in Wheathampstead. Population trends continue to show a significant increase in demand for reception places in parts of Hertfordshire. The county council is proposing to increase the number of reception places from 40 to 60 from September 2014.</p> <p>The school has been chosen because it is close to the area where the increased demand is expected and the site is suitable for expansion.</p> <p>Planning permission would be required for any building work which will be dealt with by a separate local consultation controlled by the town planning department.</p> <p>Herts CC are inviting Hertfordshire residents to comment on the proposal, by completing the <a title="Wheathampstead consultation form" href="" target="_blank">online form</a>&nbsp;or calling 0300 123 4043 to request a hard copy of the response form. Your comments must be received by 20 March 2013.</p> <p>This is one of several proposed school expansions planned by Herts CC. The others are:</p> <p><strong>Central Primary School</strong>, Watford &ndash; 30 extra places (2 forms of entry)</p> <p><strong>Galley Hill primary School</strong>, hemel Hempsted &ndash; 15 extra places (2 forms of entry)</p> <p><strong>High Beeches Primary School</strong>, Harpenden &ndash; 30 extra places&nbsp;(2 forms of entry)</p> <p><strong>Letchmore Infants' and Nursery School</strong>, Stevenage &ndash; 30&nbsp;&nbsp;extra places&nbsp;(3 forms of entry)</p> <p><strong>Almond Hill Junior School</strong>, Stevenage &ndash; 30&nbsp;extra places&nbsp;(3 forms of entry)</p> <p><strong>Oxhey Wood Primary School</strong>, Watford &ndash; 9&nbsp;&nbsp;extra places (2 forms of entry, capacity for 60 reception aged children from September 2014)</p> <p><strong>South Hill Primary School</strong>, Hemel Hempsted &ndash; 30 extra places&nbsp;(2 forms of entry)</p> <p><strong>St Catherine's C of E Primary School</strong>, Ware &ndash; 30&nbsp;extra places&nbsp;(2 forms of entry)</p> <p><strong>The Giles Infant, Nursery and Primary School</strong>, Stevenage &ndash; 30&nbsp;extra places&nbsp;(3 forms of entry)</p> <p><strong>The Orchard Primary School</strong>, Watford &ndash; 30&nbsp;extra places&nbsp;(2 forms of entry)</p> <p><strong>Walkern primary School</strong> &ndash;&nbsp;&nbsp;10 extra places in the school (25 reception children)</p> <p><strong>York Mead Primary School</strong>, Croxley Green &ndash; 30&nbsp;extra places&nbsp;(2 forms of entry)</p> (Lindsay Robertson) Sunday, Feb 10, 2013 12:00:00 GMT How do you rate Ofsted's inspection policy? <p>Now, at SchoolGuru we really do take all this Ofsted inspection stuff with a pinch of salt! But that's our view. We just find the whole thing slightly random. Take this as an example:</p> <p>Your school's previous Ofsted inspection judged the school as 'good' and the academic results have been consistent since then. So, because Ofsted focuses its attention on schools that have struggled in previous inspections, your school gets the letter saying it doesn't need an inspection this year.</p> <p>Big sigh of relief all round the staff room. But hang on.... what if your headteacher has a bit more ambition and wants to make things<em> even</em> better? Surely they would be striving to trade that 'good' up to an 'outstanding'. Trouble is, they won't get that chance for another year.</p> <p>Many schools would do anything to be rated as 'good' and never have to see an inspector again. But there must be a fair few 'good' schools that think they can to do better but aren't being given the chance.</p> <p>It's a bit like ignoring all the pupils that are on target to get above a C grade and only teaching the ones that are struggling.</p> <p>Surely that would never happen!</p> (Lindsay Robertson) Friday, Feb 1, 2013 12:00:00 GMT Local MP 'clueless' about schools. Read about Mark Prisk's embarrassing gaffs... <p>Oh dear. Mark Prisk - the Conservative MP for Hertford and Stortford - clearly needs to go back to school. <a title="Mark Prisk's blog" href="">On his blog,&nbsp;</a>he makes a few fundamental mistakes that make us question how clued up he really is about the issue of schools, which is so central for many parents. &nbsp;</p> <p>On his website, he says that parents applying for secondary schools can apply in September, and then you'll be informed of your child's allocated school place in October. In fact, the end of October is the deadline for applications - and National Offer Day for secondary schools is 1 March. That's when parents find out which school they've been offered.&nbsp;</p> <p>He also talks about three preferences. That's very out of date. Parents now have four preferences - and you will be at a disadvantage if you don't use every one of them.</p> <p>He also has a broken link to Herts CC's site, urging you to take part in a school consultation that finished a long, long time ago.</p> <p>So... Mr Prisk MP. It's onto the naughty step for you. And any time that you, or your constituents, need any advice on schools... just get in contact.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> %%BR5%% (Catherine Bassindale) Thursday, Feb 28, 2013 12:00:00 GMT Hot news on the independent sector <p>You've been asking us for information on the independent sector. We're state school specialists, but we get it. You want to consider all the options when planning your children's education. The independent schools in Hertfordshire are among the best in the country, with small classes, excellent facilities and great results. We suggest visiting as many as you can, to get an idea of what they could offer your child. You can use the links below to find out more...</p> <p><a title="The Independent Schools Council" href="" target="_blank">The Independent Schools Council (ISC)</a>:&nbsp;Do your homework and read up on everything from choosing schools to scholarships. You can also search for schools in your area.</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">The Independent Association of Prep Schools</a>:&nbsp;This website has a handy 'School Finder' so you can sniff out suitable schools.</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">The Independent Schools Inspectorate</a>:&nbsp;Get the lowdown on the schools you're interested in by reading the inspection reports carried out by the ISI.</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Ofsted</a>:&nbsp;If the ISI hasn't inspected the school, try Ofsted. The reports are available online.&nbsp;</p> (Lindsay Robertson) Tuesday, Aug 7, 2012 12:00:00 GMT Ofsted triumph for Holtsmere End Junior School <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><span>SchoolGuru loves a good news story and this one is great.&nbsp;</span>Holtsmere End Junior School<span>&nbsp;in Hemel Hempstead&nbsp;</span>has become the&nbsp;first school in Hertfordshire&nbsp;to move from 'notice to improve' to a 'good' Ofsted judgement in just 13 months - and this is under the tough new framework for school inspections introduced in September 2012.&nbsp;</p> <p>Philip Mann, who led the Ofsted inspection in March 2013, noted: &ldquo;Teaching has improved and pupil standards have risen significantly.&nbsp;&nbsp;This is a view shared by many parents.&rdquo; Teaching is now &ldquo;Mostly good with some that is outstanding.&rdquo;</p> <p>In February 2012, the inspectors found the teaching to be satisfactory, but inadequate leadership and management meant the school was given notice to improve. Shortly after the 2012 inspection, the Head resigned. Deputy Head Emma McGuigan was appointed Acting Head and a new senior management team was recruited which has &ldquo;successfully tackled the weaknesses from the previous inspection.&rdquo; Emma McGuigan is pictured above with pupils at the school.&nbsp;</p> <p>Barbara Whitford, the Chair of Governors, commented: &ldquo;The Governors, teachers, support staff and parents at Holtsmere End Junior School are all delighted at the outcome of our recent Ofsted inspection.&nbsp;To move from a 'notice to improve' judgement to 'good' in just over a year is an outstanding achievement.&nbsp;&nbsp;Emma and her school team have worked so hard to transform our teaching and learning and ensure that all of our pupils are active independent learners.&nbsp;Our improving SATS results are evidence of their hard work. Our sister school, Holtsmere End Infant School was also given a 'good' Ofsted judgement this year, so both schools are now offering quality primary education to the local community.&rdquo;</p> <p>SchoolGuru says:&nbsp;<em>congratulations!&nbsp;</em></p> <p><span style="font-size: 15px; font-weight: bold;"><strong>Go and see for yourself</strong></span></p> <p>The school is in Woodhall Farm, Hemel Hempstead, and there are currently places available in all year groups. If you're looking for a school in the area,<a title="Holtsmere Junior" href="" target="_blank"> check them out</a>.&nbsp;They're offering tours of the school on:</p> <ul> <li>Wednesday 26 June at 2pm</li> <li>Friday 12 July at 10am.&nbsp;</li> </ul> <p>If you can't make those dates, they'll arrange another time for you.&nbsp;So don't miss out - and go and see this lovely school in action!</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> (Lindsay Robertson) Thursday, Apr 25, 2013 12:00:00 GMT Temporary expansion at Cunningham Hill for 2013/14 <p>Herts CC has plans to temporarily expand the intake at Cunningham Hill Junior School from two to three classes from 2013/14.</p> <p>The council forcasts that there will be a surplus supply of primary places in the St Albans area from 2013/14 onwards. This will provide some flexibility for neighbouring areas, such as London Colney, Park Street and Colney Heath, &nbsp;where there is still pressure for places.</p> <p>Although the shortfall of places in St Albans has been addressed other areas within Hertfordshire are expected to remain under intense pressure. Harpenden, Hatfield, Stevenage, Letchworth, Borehamwood, Berkhamsted and Rickmansworth are among many areas that are forcast to have a shortage of primary places for 2014/15 intake.</p> (Lindsay Robertson) Saturday, Oct 20, 2012 12:00:00 GMT Hertfordshire County Council in the hot seat... (or proof, if you need it, that SchoolGuru offers a valuable service) <p>At SchoolGuru, we work hard to ensure that parents have the most accurate and up to date information available. Many of you have told us that you can&rsquo;t get the information that you need from Hertfordshire County Council. We put them to the test and emailed a series of questions to Justin Donovan, Director of Education and Early Intervention. He&rsquo;s paid &pound;115,000 a year (from your money) to help parents (like you). His unedited responses are below. If you need further clarification, why not drop him an email at &ndash; &nbsp;we're sure he&rsquo;d be delighted to hear from you.</p> <h2><span style="color: #990066;">SchoolGuru:</span>&nbsp;Do you have any tips for parents wondering which schools to put down on their application forms?</h2> <p><strong>Justin Donovan:&nbsp;</strong>Parents should carefully read the literature available at also available in the annually published admissions booklets.</p> <h2><span style="color: #990066;">SchoolGuru:</span>&nbsp;How can parents avoid being allocated a school that they haven't expressed a preference for?</h2> <p><strong>Justin Donovan:</strong> Parents should carefully read the literature available at also available in the annually published admissions booklets.</p> <h2 style="font-size: 1.5em;"><span style="color: #990066;">SchoolGuru:&nbsp;</span>What are the most common mistakes that people make on their application forms?</h2> <p><strong>&nbsp;Justin Donovan:</strong> Parents should carefully read the literature available at also available in the annually published admissions booklets.</p> <h2><span style="color: #990066;">SchoolGuru:</span>&nbsp;What percentage of application forms are incorrectly filled in (eg with parents providing an incorrect email address or forgetting to mention a sibling link etc)?</h2> <p><strong>Justin Donovan:</strong> Unfortunately we do not hold this information.</p> <h2 style="font-size: 1.5em;"><span style="color: #990066;">SchoolGuru:&nbsp;</span>What percentage of parents successfully use the Continuing Interest system to get a school that's preferable to the one they were initially allocated?</h2> <p><strong>Justin Donovan:</strong> A significant number of children are placed through continuing interest every year, but percentages change year on year and within each process and for each school.</p> <h2 style="font-size: 1.5em;"><span style="color: #990066;">SchoolGuru:&nbsp;</span>We get lots of people asking if they can rent a flat close to the school that they want, to increase their chances of getting a place. If they live in the rented flat, and then move back to the family home after allocation day, is this allowed?</h2> <p><strong>Justin Donovan:</strong> Parents must use the child's permanent home address. More information about the address to be used is available at, and in the annually published admissions booklets.</p> <h2><span style="color: #990066;">SchoolGuru:&nbsp;</span>What measures are in place to prevent fraudulent applications (e.g. using a childminder's address)?</h2> <p><strong>Justin Donovan:</strong> Significant measures are in places, at various stages of the allocation process and afterwards, to help identify fraudulent applications.</p> <h2 style="font-size: 1.5em;"><span style="color: #990066;">SchoolGuru:&nbsp;</span>How many fraudulent applications have you identified over the past year?</h2> <p><strong>Justin Donovan:</strong> For the 2010/11 admissions round there were approximately 80 investigations into potential fraudulent applications and 500+ random address checks.&nbsp;</p> <h2><span style="color: #990066;">SchoolGuru:&nbsp;</span>How many of these children (i.e. whose parents applied fraudulently) then had their places withdrawn at the schools they were offered?</h2> <p><strong>Justin Donovan: </strong>In excess of three places were withdrawn in 2010/11.</p> <h2 style="font-size: 1.5em;"><span style="color: #990066;">SchoolGuru:&nbsp;</span>If someone out of county applies for an undersubscribed school, would they be given priority over an in-county applicant who hasn't got any of their preferences (but didn't apply for the school)?</h2> <p><strong>Justin Donovan:</strong> Admission arrangements can not prioritise applicants according to a child's home Local Authority, that would be illegal.</p> <h4>So, a big thank you to Mr Donovan &ndash; and good luck finding the information he refers to! Alternatively, you&rsquo;ll find all the information you need in an accessible format on this website &ndash; or members can just email us with any questions.&nbsp;</h4> (Lindsay Robertson) Thursday, Aug 2, 2012 12:00:00 GMT Haven't got the school you want? It happened to us. And here's what you should do now... <p>Trembling, I looked online, to see which primary school we'd been allocated. And that's when it hit me. Worst case scenario. We hadn't got any of our preferences. We were allocated the school at the very bottom of the league tables. Not the lovely little school around the corner - the one we naively assumed we'd get into, when we moved up from London.&nbsp;</p> <p>I spent the day in a daze. And then I got angry. I'm still angry 12 years later. That's why my partner and I set up SchoolGuru &ndash; to help other people avoid this fate, by providing them with fast access to information. And it's why we will do everything that we can now, to help <em>you</em> find a way forward.&nbsp;</p> <p>You may feel sad, angry, shocked, bewildered... or all of the above. We know someone who found it so tough, that they ended up in hospital. And we understand. However you're feeling, we want you to know that you're not alone. It may seem like that, right now, but thousands of parents up and down the country will also be in the same position.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>If you're a Premium Member, contact us at any time for email support and advice.&nbsp;</em></p> <p><strong>Here's why you need to stay positive right now:&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>1. Yes, ours was a sob story... but it came out well in the end. Your story will too. We fought hard and got our son into one of the best schools in the county. You can do the same.&nbsp;</p> <p>2. Don't let this crush you. You're going to need all your energy to fight back - and devise a Plan B.&nbsp;</p> <p>3. This is the start of your journey, not the end of it. There's a lot you can do between now and the start of the school year in September, to get a school that you're happy with.&nbsp;</p> <p>4. Many parents trade up schools via the Continuing Interest system - you should also<a title="Beat-the-System guide to school appeals" href="" target="_blank"> lodge an appeal</a> if you didn't get what you want. Having an action plan will make you feel much better and in control again.&nbsp;</p> <p>5. The pushy, proactive parents end up getting what they want... even if <em>what</em> they want changes over a period of time. We've seen it happen countless times at SchoolGuru.</p> <p>6. Accept support from your friends right now. When we didn't get the school we wanted, a friend came round offering sympathy and 12 donuts. It made us feel better, knowing that someone cared. If we could personally send you 12 donuts right now, then we would do!</p> <p>7. Be confident that everything will work out in the end. We've helped hundreds of people over the years - and none of them have ever ended up sending their children to a school that they're unhappy with.&nbsp;</p> <p>8. Don't feel alone - you're not.&nbsp;</p> <p>9. Don't feel a failure - you're not.</p> <p>10. Don't think you're powerless - you're not.&nbsp;</p> <p>Please email us and we'll reply as quickly as we can, in confidence. I's only &pound;50 for a year for our Premium Membership which includes email support. If you're a Standard member, and want to upgrade to Premium Membership, just let us know. &nbsp;</p> <p>Big hug... and lots of donuts.&nbsp;</p> <p>Catherine x</p> %%BR5%% (Catherine Bassindale) Tuesday, Mar 1, 2016 12:00:00 GMT Help! Please explain how the continuing interest runs work. <p>Ok, so here we go... Continuing interest (CI) is the waiting list system managed by the Council. You will automatically be placed in the first continuing interest run for any schools that you ranked more highly than the one you were offered a place at &ndash; so long as the school's admissions arrangements are run by Herts CC. This basically applies to all community schools and most voluntary controlled and academy schools. If in doubt, check with the school. The Council advise you to do this anyway.&nbsp;</p> <p>Normally, you have to wait if you want to change your preferences until the second run of continuing interest. However there are often exceptions to this, so keep checking the Council's site for the most up to date info, so you can be 'in like Flynn' if other schools pop up.</p> <p><strong>NB: Any new application will overwrite your existing application and therefore you must include any schools from your initial application that you still want to be considered for. Don't mess this up.&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>If you applied online you can log on and should be able to view your position on the continuing interest lists from a given date (usually in May). If you applied by post you will need to contact the Council. Alternatively, email the Council, don't hang about.&nbsp;</p> <p>If you haven't got what you want, you're gonna need a strategy. Tell us your situation, and we'll stroke our beards and give you our opinion.&nbsp;Visit our&nbsp;<a title="Q&amp;A section" href="" target="_blank">Q&amp;A section</a>&nbsp;where members can ask questions about admissions and appeals. If you're not a member... dur... join up. It's only twenty squid.&nbsp;</p> (Lindsay Robertson) Thursday, Apr 18, 2013 12:00:00 GMT Don't forget about Harperbury Free School <p><em><span style="font-size: 11.000000pt; font-family: 'Calibri';">You won't find this school in the Calculators - as there's no data yet - and it's not on our maps, as the address hasn't been confirmed yet, but you might like to consider this school when making your secondary school preferences. The deadline for applications is 31 January 2015 (and this doesn't 'count' as one of your four preferences).</span></em></p> <div class="page" title="Page 45"> <div class="layoutArea"> <div class="column"> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><span style="font-size: 11.000000pt; font-family: 'Calibri';"><span style="font-weight: bold;">Harperbury Free School</span></span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 11.000000pt; font-family: 'Calibri';"><span style="font-weight: bold;">&nbsp;</span>Headteacher: Mr Martin Blain<br /> Address: c/o 255 Watling Street, Radlett, WD7 7AL </span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 11.000000pt; font-family: 'Calibri';"> </span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 11.000000pt; font-family: 'Calibri';"> </span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 11.000000pt; font-family: 'Calibri';">Type: &nbsp;Academy<br /> Published Admission Number: 120 </span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 11.000000pt; font-family: 'Calibri'; font-weight: bold;">School Code: 9197254 </span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 11.000000pt; font-family: 'Calibri';">Harperbury Free School is a new secondary school opening in September 2015. The preferred site is the former Harperbury Hospital, Harper Lane, Radlett.</span></p> <div class="page" title="Page 45"> <div class="layoutArea"> <div class="column"> <p>&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> %%BR5%% (Anonymous) Friday, Sep 5, 2014 12:00:00 GMT English Baccalaureate takes computer science seriously (at last!) <p>Computer Science will be included in the English Baccalaureate. It will be one of the four science options, joining physics, chemistry and biology on the list.</p> <p>The move follows calls from leading global tech businesses, including Google, Microsoft, IBM, BT and Facebook, for computer science to be an E-Bacc option. This will allow millions of children to learn coding and become active creators of technology instead of being passive users (with good secretarial skills!)</p> <p>ICT is to be scrapped from the schools' curriculum. It is seen as being dull, and even harmful, and is often blamed for the failure to deliver the computer programming skills urgently required by the UK technology sector.</p> (Lindsay Robertson) Saturday, Feb 2, 2013 12:00:00 GMT Berkhamsted schools reorganised <p>Following a public consultation, the school set-up in Berkhamsted is set to change from a three tier to a two tier system, by reorganising the first, middle and upper schools into primary, infant/junior and secondary schools. Some of the schools will change for September 2013 intake with the rest following on in September 2014.&nbsp;Here's how the schools will alter:</p> <p><strong>Ashlyns:&nbsp;</strong>Secondary school (11-19 yrs)</p> <div> <p><strong>Bridgewater:&nbsp;</strong>Primary school (3-11yrs)</p> <p><strong>Greenway:&nbsp;</strong>Primary school (3-11yrs)</p> <p><strong>Potten End C of E:&nbsp;</strong>Primary school (3-11yrs)</p> </div> <div> <p><strong>St Mary's VA C of E:&nbsp;</strong>Primary school (3-11yrs)</p> <p><strong>St Thomas Moore RC:&nbsp;</strong>Primary school (3-11yrs)</p> <p><strong>Swing Gate:&nbsp;</strong>Infant school (3-7 yrs)</p> <p><strong>Thomas Coram C of E:&nbsp;</strong>Junior school (7-11 yrs)</p> </div> <p><strong>Victoria C of E:&nbsp;</strong>Infant school (3-7 yrs)</p> <p><strong>Westfield:&nbsp;</strong>Primary school (3-11yrs)</p> <p>All children currently in Year 6 at either of the Berkhamsted Middle schools are guaranteed a place in Year 7 at Ashlyns &ndash; they will not have to make a secondary transfer application unless they would like to attend a different school.</p> <p><a title="Berkhamsted schools" href="" target="_blank">For more info, please click here.</a>&nbsp;</p> (Lindsay Robertson) Saturday, Dec 1, 2012 12:00:00 GMT Double trouble: finding schools for your twins <h3><span style="color: #333333; font-family: helvetica, arial, sans-serif; line-height: 19px; font-size: small;">Choosing schools for twins is twice as complicated. So if you have multiple births in your family, check out our tips below.</span></h3> <p><span style="color: #333333; font-family: helvetica, arial, sans-serif; line-height: 19px; font-size: small;"> </span></p> <h2>1. Firstly, you need to decide whether you&rsquo;d like your children educated in the same school or not.&nbsp;</h2> <p><em>If you keep them together&hellip; </em>the children may prefer it, and it will be easier for you to do the school run, manage homework and coordinate social arrangements etc.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>If you separate them&hellip;</em> it could promote their individuality and discourage competition (but it might be a logistical nightmare!)</p> <h2>2. If they&rsquo;re at the same school, do you want them in the same class?&nbsp;</h2> <p>Maria, a mum of eight-year-old non-identical twins, says separating them has been very beneficial. &ldquo;They used to be competitive in the classroom, and it was difficult as my daughter was more accomplished than my son&rdquo;, she says. &ldquo;But now they can develop at their own pace, and have established their own friends and identities&rdquo;.&nbsp;</p> <p>Separation won&rsquo;t be an option at some of the smaller schools, where there&rsquo;s only one class per year.</p> <h2>3. Visit as many schools as you can, and discuss your situation.&nbsp;</h2> <p>You&rsquo;ll find that their approaches to twins, and other multiple births, are as individual as your children are!</p> <h2>4. To assess whether you&rsquo;re likely to get into a school, use</h2> <p>You should also call the school to discuss your situation and their policy on admitting multiple births.&nbsp;</p> <div> <div> <h2>Your position in a nutshell...</h2> <div>The law changed in 2012, and there's now a 'one in, all in' situation for twins and multiple births applying for community and voluntary controlled schools. Schools can exceed their published admission number (PAN) if one child gets a place, and the other ones don't - so all of them can be admitted, even if it takes the class over their 30-child limit. This applies for infant schools (for the first time) and other primary and secondary schools following the Council's rules. The rule doesn't apply to children who are admitted via a random ballot or through a selective process (used for some secondary schools). Schools that manage their own admissions may have slightly different policies, as although they now have more flexibility to exceed the PAN, they don't have to, and the decision must be taken with regard to the capacity of the school and the impact on other children. You should discuss your position with the individual headteachers before applying. Good luck!</div> </div> </div> (Lindsay Robertson) Wednesday, Jan 2, 2013 12:00:00 GMT Are you worried about sending your child to a single-sex school? <p>&nbsp;</p> <div> <p>Some of the best schools in Herts are just for boys - or just for girls. But not everyone parent is sure that these are the right schools for their child.</p> <p>&nbsp;This is one mum's story...</p> </div> <div> <p>"I was really concerned that my son wouldn't fit into an all boys' school - several of his friends are girls, he doesn't like football much, and I was worried that it might be a bit macho and alienating. However my worries vanished in the first half term. He was more of a lad than I gave him credit for and thrives on challenge and competition - so much so, that he's now one of the best in the year at Maths (he was on the bottom table throughout primary school). The style of teaching suits him - across the board, he knows where he is, and what he has to do to achieve the next level. He has an online homework tracker to help him stay organised. Plus he's motivated by the trips and paint-balling for good conduct and attendance. The headteacher really knows how to get the best out of boys. Despite my initial reservations, I'd totally recommend single-sex schools now."</p> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p> (Lindsay Robertson) Thursday, Feb 28, 2013 12:00:00 GMT 1 in 5 families failed to get their first choice school - what to do if this affects you <p>So we have news in from Hertfordshire County Council - just under 1 in 5 families failed to get their first choice secondary school this year. Around 1 in 25 families were allocated a school that they hadn't chosen at all (that's 492 very upset families in Herts tonight). This is a miserable position to be in. Our heart goes out to you all.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>So what next?&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>1. <a title="Herts CC 2013 allocations" href="" target="_blank">Read this</a>, the latest info from Herts CC.&nbsp;</p> <p>2. Prepare to trade up through the continuing interest system. You'll automatically be placed on the continuing interest lists for the schools you ranked more highly than the school you were allocated. You will also be given the opportunity to change these preferences if, for example, your chances of getting into your original schools look slender. Try not to be too hung up on one particular school. Look to trade up... and keep trading up... it can be a long process, taking months, so prepare for the long haul. We were offered a place the week before the start of term - this is not untypical.</p> <p>3.<a title="Beat-the-System Guide to Appeals" href="" target="_blank"> Appeal, appeal, appeal. </a>It's always worth a shot. But you really do need to be prepared. If you buy our guide, we'll help you further as much as we can. It's only &pound;6.49 and other parents have told us that it's helped them to win their appeal. You haven't got much to lose, basically, it's the cost of a very average bottle of wine from the Co-op (and I should know, I've just drunk half a glass).&nbsp;</p> <p>We'll be updating this site as new info rolls in... in the meantime, keep calm. And if you've got any questions, and you're a member, then send us a question via<a title="Q&amp;A" href="" target="_blank"> the Q&amp;A</a>. If you're not a member... well... join?&nbsp;</p> <p>Hang on in there. We're here to help, if you need us.</p> <p>Catherine x</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> %%BR5%% (Catherine Bassindale) Friday, Mar 1, 2013 12:00:00 GMT