Cookham Discussion Board

General Category => Secondary Schools Boundary Change => Topic started by: Cookham Webmaster on March 03, 2010, 01:03:41 PM

Title: Reason for New Board
Post by: Cookham Webmaster on March 03, 2010, 01:03:41 PM
This Discussion Board has been set up for all those parents whose children are due to go to Secondary School from a Cookham Primary school this year and are affected by the new boundary changes. A website has been set up at (
Any suggestions or comments can be sent to

Title: Re: Reason for New Board
Post by: Ricardo on March 03, 2010, 02:41:30 PM
As one of the people who filled in the consultation document, I'm quite alarmed at the consequences of the changes. I was under the impression that the main focus of the document was that Desborough didn't stand in its own catchment area. The possible effects of the changes were not outlined in the document in any way that I remember. I can't believe that Cox Green is going to become the main school for kids living in Cookham, it's utter madness and will no doubt lead to total gridlock of Maidenhead. I'd be very unhappy for my child to have to go to a school in an area about which I know very little.

Title: Re: Reason for New Board
Post by: fehewer on March 03, 2010, 04:39:59 PM
Cookham Parish Council responded to the consultation, one of only four 'other organisations' to do so.  It doesn't make any sense to me that Cookham students can't use Furze Platt.  I look forward to learning more about recent developments at the meeting on Thursday morning.

Title: Re: Reason for New Board
Post by: Cookham Webmaster on March 03, 2010, 08:02:06 PM
It seems that places have been offered at Desborough, Altwood and Newlands, but not Furze Platt for Cookham residents. So much for let's walk to school and become green.

Title: Re: Reason for New Board
Post by: nik on March 03, 2010, 08:09:16 PM
see Furze Platts original response to the consultations.  They strongly advised the Local Authority NOT to make the changes:
Why on earth do these people in Local Authority just steam ahead and make changes when 94% of people previously got their preferred place and the experts ie those running the schools advise against it!  How do we overturn this going forward, its not acceptable.

Title: Re: Reason for New Board
Post by: Ricardo on March 03, 2010, 09:46:16 PM
This from Furze Platt's statement:

'Currently 94% of Maidenhead applicants get a place at their preferred school. This is a
very good figure. Unfortunately neither of the options presented have been calculated to
show what difference they could make to families. Therefore we have no information
about the consequences of these changes. We urge the local authority to complete far
more detailed work on predicting the likely impact on parental choice of these changes.'

'It is our view that parents of primary aged children will not be aware of this consultation
and its possible impact on their children. This, coupled with the lack of modelling which
MUST be undertaken to provide us with some detailed evidence of likely impact,
underpins our argument for no change at this point.'

Title: Re: Reason for New Board
Post by: Bagheera on March 04, 2010, 12:37:31 AM
The consultation document says:

"94% of Maidenhead applicants wanting a Year 7 place at age 11 had a place at their most preferred school by the start of the academic year. No Maidenhead applicants were left without a place in school."

They have managed to put a stop to that then!

Title: Re: Reason for New Board
Post by: Pongo on March 04, 2010, 01:11:42 AM
Ricardo mentions that Furze Platt School said 'It is our view that parents of primary aged children will not be aware of this consultation and its possible impact on their children.'

Does this mean that the parents of primary school children in Cookham were not consulted?

Title: Re: Reason for New Board
Post by: aoliver on March 04, 2010, 01:16:25 PM
I am a parent of a child in Cookham Rise School and my daughter has been allocated a place at Cox Green School. I have three other children at nursery and primary in Cookham and I canít begin to imagine how I will get all four children to school by 9am.
I attended the meeting at Cookham Rise school this morning which proved to very interesting, I came away with the impression that the consultation document was rushed through and signed off without all Cookham parents being aware of its existence, perhaps we need a parent with a legal background to look into this.
I understand that funds will be made available to transport Cookham children to out of catchment schools; does anyone agree with me that these funds could be used to erect a temporary classroom at Furze Platt School?

Title: Re: Reason for New Board
Post by: Bagheera on March 04, 2010, 01:46:04 PM
The document, available at

says, "At this stage we are not putting forward specific proposals for change - instead we want to hear your general views and ideas about issues that you feel are important, and then we will use them to help us develop options for you to comment on at a later stage".

Title: Re: Reason for New Board
Post by: nik on March 04, 2010, 01:53:02 PM
At the meeting this morning (which was excellent) we were advised to raise this issue with both the Parish Council : and Theresa May:

FYI my letter to T. May:
Dear Ms May,

As a result of recent changes, the majority of children within The Cookhams will no longer be able to attend the catchment school, Furze Platt, for which the Cookham primary schools are feeders and this is the closest school.  Previous evidence stated that 94% of people got their preferred schools and therefore why the change.

This is the only school within a 3 mile radius and therefore how on earth are working parents meant to get their children to other schools and keep jobs?  In addition, all this will increase the carbon footprint and put our children at serious risk if they have to walk or cycle, especially in the winter months.  (there are no direct buses to Cox Green or Altwood!!!)

Cllr Quick quoted that "the change was done to give equal opportunities to apply for single sex education and a religious foundations school".   In effect since the council have not completed any modeling in actual fact it is now forcing families into single sex education and religious education, thus removing any choice.

I am sorry to be so blunt but when such irresponsible decisions are made I see benefit into governments  cutting  local authority jobs if this is the madness they create in their jobs.  Why change the status quo, it was working.  Furze Platt school in their response stated things should not change.  Itís quite unbelievable that the trust we and you as our MP, put in these people that they can make such a huge and dreadful mess.  Who is responsible?

I feel that the council have made a decision without adhering to the correct consultation process and have marketed this as a win for all without fully explaining to all parents the real consequences.  They have not been open or honest and have no empathy at all for the emotional welfare of the children they are meant to be serving.  This new admission/boundary policy needs to be overturned with immediate effect.

Cookham will always be the furthest location from ALL Maidenhead schools and therefore Cookham parents really have no choice, itís not even a lottery.

Please advise how this decision can be overturned and what you will do to ensure that going forward Cookham parents can send their children to the only reasonably placed school.

Title: Re: Reason for New Board
Post by: Bagheera on March 04, 2010, 06:06:37 PM
Only 6% did not get their first choice previously.  Now it is 24% - so dissatisfaction is quadrupled at a stroke.

We had no child not offered a place at any school.  Now we have 24 failures by the council to discharge its legal obligation to do so.

It wasn't broke so why did they have to fix it?

Title: Re: Reason for New Board
Post by: jayne on March 04, 2010, 07:02:20 PM
I have calculated via google maps that i live 1.085 miles from Furze Platt senior school as the crow flies.I am therefore baffled as to why my son didnt get a place when the borough states that this year intake span is over this. >:(

Title: Re: Reason for New Board
Post by: sprice on March 04, 2010, 07:36:24 PM
I am still completely stunned that, having selected two schools within my catchment area because I believe wholly in the principle of living in and supporting your own community, my daughter currently has 'no allocation'.

What does this mean?

It means she has no school to go to at all. It means, I was told by admissions, that if I do nothing then the only currently available school place is in Datchet.

After discovering the highly suspect manner in which the designated areas were altered, I don't even know where to begin with my appeal. What am I appealing against exactly?
That my daughter doesn't have a school?
That I will have to fight tooth and nail to get her into either the local catchment single-sex school or the local catchment mixed school? That the promises made by the Secretary of State about the appeal process are a mockery?
Or simply, that having moved out of London seven years ago to live in an area where my children could grow up knowing their neighbours, understanding their surroundings and living locally, walking to and from school, activities and shops was a complete fantasy and no longer exists in this country because of ill-thought out and unplanned policy gone mad.


Utterly appalled.

Title: Re: Reason for New Board
Post by: Bagheera on March 04, 2010, 09:43:18 PM
You might want to look at (

Title: Re: Reason for New Board
Post by: Strims on March 05, 2010, 10:59:36 AM
The borough has to consult each year on it's admissions arrangements and the arrangements then have to published by 15th April

The consultation for admissions in September 2011 (so current year 5) closed on 28th February - just a week ago. It has already been removed from the borough's website.  Although I haven't seen it I think it can safely be assumed that this consultation included the exact same designated areas as this year.  I strongly suggest that all schools and all parents (certainly all Key Stage 2 Parents) write to the borough's admission team and the local councillors objecting to the designated areas.  This needs to happen sooner rather than later as the Cabinet Meeting at which this will be agreed is 25th March.  At the meeting on 4th March it was suggested that petitions be raised but personally I feel strongly worded personal letters will have more weight.


Title: Re: Reason for New Board
Post by: Bagheera on March 05, 2010, 04:27:12 PM
I agree with Strims on the need to make individual complaints.

Apart from anything else, individual complaints require individual responses whereas petitions can normally be dealt with by some kind of press release.

It forces the council to go over the same ground again and again.

The manner in which the consultation was was carried out would seem to be grounds for complaint.

For those who have children directly affected this year, though, you MUST get you appeal up and running first.

Title: Re: Reason for New Board
Post by: BioTappedIn on March 06, 2010, 11:08:46 AM
What a mess! This does not affect me as, fortunately, my kids are already at secondary school. But for somebody who has been thinking that maybe, just maybe he might vote Conservative for a change (once maybe) Ö that line of thought has been brought to an abrupt stop! 

In an election year (of all years) letís see how well the central Conservative party manage the present situation.  None of this Ďlocal government is independentí rubbish otherwise what is the point of Party Politics.  This sort of mess reflects directly on the Conservative Party, if you canít sort out school catchments how do you expect to run the economy or set education policy?

Itís fine to have a set of rules but if you realise during the implementation of those rules that they are flawed then why not re-evaluate? Why stick with rules that obviously arenít working?  6% to 24% dissatisfied, are we to be told that we canít trust the statistics?   

Business would not tolerate such incompetency. I hope that this fiasco is sorted out, that some consideration is given to children and parents affected and that common sense prevails.  As far as Iím concerned the resolution of this matter is a good guide to the management skills of the Conservative Party, in this way it becomes one of Ďmyí election issues. Come on Theresa May, get stuck in there.

Title: Re: Reason for New Board
Post by: Pongo on March 07, 2010, 04:10:51 PM
BioTappedIn you are absolutely right, the whole process was flawed. Firstly they send out a consultation under the heading Building Schools For The Future Consultation, nothing about change to areas. No wonder there was a small number returned as most people did not realise it was there, just one page at the end with a lot of text before it, so it looked like the questionnaire had finished. (

Of the 539 responses only 484 were accepted for analysis. WHY were so many rejected, over 10%? Also how many consultations were sent out? I notice none of the Cookham schools seem to have replied, as they must have thought it did not refer to them.

The three schools that did reply asked for the proposed changes to be modelled to see the impact, this did not happen.

I would have thought anybody in their right mind would realise that the new designated areas being the main criteria for entry would block out the rural areas north of Maidenhead as being too far away from their closest school, so they would have to go to a school over five miles away instead. The allocation criteria is now wrong and needs to be changed if they want to keep the new areas.

Title: Re: Reason for New Board
Post by: Joni on March 07, 2010, 08:11:39 PM
I was shocked to read the minutes of the meeting at which the decision was taken. It seems that everyone was opposed to the change being implemented apart from one councillor - and he's not one with responsibilities for overseeing schools/education/children's issues. Why on earth did his opinion over-rule the opinions of others with far better judgement? He may well have shot himself in the foot as he represents the Riverside ward - no kids in his area will have a hope in hell of getting into Furze Platt now.

Title: Re: Reason for New Board
Post by: Bagheera on March 07, 2010, 10:47:39 PM
I think it will be good if people can get comments to the council about the situation in time for this year's decision - so we can avoid a repeat of the disaster that has just been visited on the children of the village (and other areas like Holyport).

If people like BioTappedIn could also comment, that would be helpful.

The email address is

Title: Re: Reason for New Board
Post by: aoliver on March 07, 2010, 11:22:42 PM
It is not about how it can be better next time but how we can rectify this travesty that they are trying to impose on our children, to do it right now and also to understand he background of how such a ridiculous situation could be contrived.

Title: Re: Reason for New Board
Post by: Bagheera on March 09, 2010, 05:11:54 PM
It is not about how it can be better next time but how we can rectify this travesty that they are trying to impose on our children, to do it right now and also to understand he background of how such a ridiculous situation could be contrived.

It is about both.  We need to protect this year's Year 5 and beyond as well as rescuing Year 6.

Cookham Dean School has sent home a letter today explaining what to do. If other parents (or interested parties) want to know more, then say so!

Title: Re: Reason for New Board
Post by: turnip on March 11, 2010, 08:31:26 PM
Could it be that all the new homes, both in Cookham, and especially Maidenhead, have added to the shortage of school places? They keep knocking out flats and high density mini estates in back gardens everywhere and then wonder where the children are going to be schooled. This is without dear old Mr Shanly's 400+ homes ghetto in Blackamoor Lane coming to your neighbourhood soon..... Yes, they provide developers contributions for privilege of putting up their poorly built expensive "Executive Homes" but this does not result in new schools or improvements to the existing ones. Bad planning, bad foresight, bad management, bad everything....sums this country up. They just keep cramming in more and more and to hell with the consequences........

Title: Re: Reason for New Board
Post by: lizzyk on March 12, 2010, 07:06:08 PM
It looks as if Cookham Rise School had 51.5% of children allocated their first choice of secondary school this year. Last year we are told the Borough gave 94% of children their first choice. I cannot believe this appalling situation has that much to do with housing, as not that much has been built in the last year.

Title: Re: Reason for New Board
Post by: Bagheera on March 13, 2010, 12:32:30 PM
Of course it doesn't Lizzy.

The council deliberately chose to do no risk assessment before changing the system, in defiance of advice that it should not and the fact that any reasonable person would do.

That is a bit like crossing the road but making a conscious decision to do so without checking there is nothing coming.

It was a reckless decision.

Title: Re: Reason for New Board
Post by: MJ Saunders on March 15, 2010, 02:53:22 PM
I agree with many of these concerns and just in case my public statement hasn't got to readers here via other routes :

To the Maidenhead Advertiser, and the Heads & Governing Bodies of the Cookham Primary Schools : March 8th.

The unforeseen mess in Secondary School places for Cookham children demands clarity and immediate action. Those who can solve the problem all agree that it is unacceptable for around a third of the children not to go to the school they expected and for some to have been left on waiting lists.  Last week, I joined embattled Heads of Cookham Primary Schools to add my apology and a commitment to try to put it right for children this year and in the future.

Any Cookham parent not satisfied with their childís secondary place should immediately contact the Council to check they are on the waiting lists for their preferred schools and also go to for clear guidance on how to appeal.  We cannot be certain that the solution pursued by me, Cllr Richard Kellaway and others will deliver, so please do this now.

This mess comes from a consultation early last year.  It is alleged that the consultation run by the Councilís management was flawed and did not comply with the rules.  I fully support the recommendation from Cllr James Evans and his Scrutiny Panel that the decision should have been deferred for more analysis.  This was ignored, along with the request of the secondary schools for a full prediction of the impact, including on children in Cookham.  I am told this was not done following advice from management.  Only 39% of the responses to the consultation drove the decision, because they were simply the largest voice and apparently could not be ignored.  This was despite the absence of many expected responses and despite the suggestion that the impact was not clear and was easily misunderstood.

The Councilís management appears not to have advised schools of the likely impact following the decision.  This left Cookham Head Teachers to reasonably assume that children would continue to feed into Furze Platt and Newlands, as they have largely done for years.  Unknown to parents this would change significantly and their secondary place applications were sent in believing all was well.  The bespoke cycle track from Cookham and a one stop rail journey were expected to continue to take children safely and easily to Furze Platt, without the need for messy multiple car journeys.

Early this year, the pile of Cookham applications unlikely to get into the parentsí preferred school must have grown high on someoneís desk.  Did management highlight the obvious distortion ?  Did they contact schools to tell them it was going wrong ?  Did they start planning a solution ?  It is suggested that the rules prevented management telling anyone, not even Councillors, in case it prompted unwanted appeals.  The result looks like around 30 appeals from Cookham alone.

Half of the children from funded schools in the whole of Maidenhead & Windsor who failed to get their preferred school appear to come from Cookham.  And half of the same children not yet told their school also appear to come from Cookham.  This could not have targeted the people I represent better if it had been planned to upset them.

I am asked to put all this anger to one side and focus on solving the problem.  I agree, but please can those who managed this mess spare a thought for the unhappy children, because they deserved better.

Let us all focus on how to tell the public meeting at Moor Hall on March 16th that all these children will have a fair chance to get to the schools they expected.  If necessary, we should build more class rooms at our preferred schools and give an absolute priority to the education of our next generation.  The action now being taken has my full support.  Cookham is expecting this management mess to be sorted. Please can we demonstrate how smart leadership and determined effort can put government red tape firmly in its place and put our children first.

Cllr Michael-John Saunders & Cookham Rise Primary School Governor

Title: Re: Reason for New Board
Post by: Bagheera on March 16, 2010, 05:47:42 PM
The decision to ignore the recommendation from the scrutiny panel, and from Furze Platt Senior School and from two other secondary schools was reckless.

It was not a slip, it was a deliberate decision to totally disregard the risk.  Councillor Quick's report to the cabinet on 26 March 2009 says under "risk assessment", simply that no detailed modelling has been done.

Her report to the cabinet on 23 October 2008 says it would mean going through three years figures and might not produce meaningful results because of "parental volatility".

I am not sure what she meant by "parental volatility" then but I think she probably has a different definition now!

Title: Re: Reason for New Board
Post by: MJ Saunders on March 19, 2010, 04:55:51 PM
Despite being from the party I represent, Cllr Quick is far from being my flavour of the month, as my comments in the Advertiser will have made abundantly clear.  She will eat her fair share of the blame for how we got into the mess we did, but in the spirit of fairness which was our mantra at the public meeting on March 16th, it is not fair to slam her for things which she did not do.  I have secured detailed explanations from the Councillors and the Council Staff involved and I believe I know what happened about the need for modelling the effects of the changes.

The Scrutiny Panel and Secondary School Heads recommended that the changes be deferred until the impact could be modelled.  The Council Admissions Team and Cllr Quick examined the changes and decided it was not right to model the complex changes when they could not predict how parents preferences for schools would change year to year.  Their explanation is correct, but with heinsight misguided.  The impact could have been modelled assuming that parents preferences would not change, even though the results would have been qualified to this important effect. 

It was also clear there would be some disadvantage to Cookham children.  The 30 or so children who were disadvantaged (out of around 90) was bigger than the Council Admissions Team and everyone else expected.  Was the scale of the problem obvious ?  It should have been, but it wasn't.  Cllr Quick offers us a tricky Catch-22.  If it was obvious to her and she deliberately ignored it, then the Admissions Team can suggest it was equally obvious to everyone in Cookham, and we rightly feel we were misled by the consultation. 

It feels best to leave the consultation and analysis where we did at the public meeting.  As the Director of Children's Services put in writing to me last wek, ďI agree it is unlikely that respondents from Cookham were able to interpret the implications for themĒ.  That's all there is to it.  It was a c*** up.

MJ Saunders RBWM Councillor for Cookham and local schools governor and activist

Title: Re: Reason for New Board
Post by: Bagheera on March 21, 2010, 09:35:22 AM
That's all there is to it.  It was a c*** up.

It would have been better if they had just said so at the meeting and told us what they were going to do about it rather than trying to shift the blame and making us all more angry.

Title: Re: Reason for New Board
Post by: MJ Saunders on March 21, 2010, 02:31:20 PM
I agree.  I don't understand why they didn't take the lead from David Burbage, Leader of the Council, who did just as you suggest in his emails to various people before the meeting, but regrettably he was only able to join us later on. Cllr MJ Saunders.