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messageRe: Harris Primary (East Dulwich) feedback so far...?
Posted by Caroline_S 18 April, 2015 09:03

ksh Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Our son was at Goose Green nursery
> so I guess we are concerned about the transition
> and upheaval.

I felt the same last year - my son loved his nursery and had strong bonds with the staff and I was heart-broken about moving my son to start at Harris. In fact we had a space at its school and very nearly kept him there. But for various reasons we moved him and he's never looked back. I was amazed how quickly he adjusted and I don't think he's ever mentioned missing the old place once. The summer holidays helped of course, but we had a couple of picnics to meet other families last year which meant there were lots of familiar faces on day one - for him and us.

messageRe: Harris Primary (East Dulwich) feedback so far...?
Posted by Caroline_S 18 April, 2015 09:08

Also, what's special about Harris compared with other primaries is that it's so tiny it's like sending them to another nursery - lots of lovely new toys (literally) and no enormous children rampaging about!!



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit was 2015:04:18:09:09:36 by Caroline_S.

messageRe: Harris Primary (East Dulwich) feedback so far...?
Posted by Fuschia 18 April, 2015 22:14

180 applications presumably means families putting the school
As 1-6, rather than 1st choices. That would be similar to st Anthony's and a big improvement on 2014 when
43 applicants put it down
As a choice

The southwark admissions info doesn't give info re 1st choice preferences

[www.southwark.gov.uk]

messageRe: Harris Primary (East Dulwich) feedback so far...?
Posted by Fuschia 18 April, 2015 23:04

1st preferences for schools are not published by LAs.

messageRe: Harris Primary (East Dulwich) feedback so far...?
Posted by martspec 19 April, 2015 00:58

After reading the comments on here about this Harris primary school I think it is important to state some facts about the school. A large number of families are not happy with the school & the changes following the departure of the last head teacher! I understand from a friend who is a parent at this school that one of the two reception teachers has also just left.Families were not informed & only found out when they returned to school after easter break.It's nice that a few of you parents are happy but please do not make these unsuspecting new parents think the school is great when this is far from the truth. My friend said like herself, most families at this school feel worried about the future of this school and find it hard to believe the explanations given by the school. families have already left the school & lots more are planning on doing the same. They don't even have planning for the new site yet & are trying to squeeze in a new intake in the already cramped space.May even have to take all the children to the girls secondary school for lunch every day as the lunch room will be used as a classroom from September. please do your research & do not be duped into believing this school is wonderful. My friend is unhappy & desperately trying to find another school for her daughter & she is not alone. The issues will become more obvious in the next few months when more families walk out.

messageRe: Harris Primary (East Dulwich) feedback so far...?
Posted by landsberger 19 April, 2015 02:01

Fuschia Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> 1st preferences for schools are not published by
> LAs.

I am not getting the figures from the LA

messageRe: Harris Primary (East Dulwich) feedback so far...?
Posted by bubblebob 19 April, 2015 09:13

Martspec
I'm sorry that your friend is unhappy. Not every parent at every school is always going to be happy. I would say that the majority of parents are happy. It is public knowledge that the planning permission has not yet been granted, this is due the the local authority not setting a planning committee date. Nothing to do with the school.

As for the new head, most people are very happy withe the changes she has implemented. These include an array of school trips, greater communication with parents about the learning activities, improvements to the outdoor learning environment, more involved homework, parent forums and workshops assistance with setting up the PTA.

She's also done all of this while sorting out some of the issues left behind by the old head, which included employing one of the teachers on an agency contract, allowing him to leave with no notice over the easter holidays. This situation was dealt with brilliantly by the head by bringing in one of the teachers who had been employed to take on year one (she had just come back from travelling). As such the class will not be disrupted again as this teacher will take on the end of reception and take them through to next year.

As much as you feel it's unhelpful for us to say how pleased we are with the school, it seems far less helpful for you to be posting hearsay negative comments. As with any school it is not perfect, but we are extremely happy that we have been able to be at this new school from the start.

I realise that for some radon there is lots of negative thoughts about Harris and I don't fully understand this, particularly from people who are not involved in the school and the federation.
Please do not dismiss something that many of us are very proud of being a part of without fully understanding the situation.

And to new parents, please don't be put off by hearsay! We are a friendly and enthusiastic bunch and look forward to meeting you in the summer!

messageRe: Harris Primary (East Dulwich) feedback so far...?
Posted by Bisou 19 April, 2015 09:15

Martspec. Thank you for this. I am assuming you are a parent? I was aware that a teacher and head has changed but not that they do not even have planning permission for the new site.I was also not aware that families had left and others were planning to leave as they are unhappy.
Your post is worrying for me as our daughter is due to start in September, I would love to hear further regarding these issues from any other parents please. When we visited the school last year one of our concerns was that a classroom was split into 2 parts with one group trying to do a lesson and another group playing. I assume this would increase with a new intake and space at a premium it was not a great situation.

messageRe: Harris Primary (East Dulwich) feedback so far...?
Posted by bubblebob 19 April, 2015 09:42

Bisou.
A couple of parents have left when they were offered their first choice schools from waiting lists, and I assume that we wil sadly loose a couple more to the new Belham, but as far as I know this is largely due to location. Mary spec says that he is not a parent but knows someone who is.

The reception class is open plan as it allows them to have largely free flow facilities offering greater resources and better leading opportunities.

If you have concerns I would suggest you talk to Jo our new head. I would be very suprised if you were not impressed with her and the way she is building an excellent school.

messageRe: Harris Primary (East Dulwich) feedback so far...?
Posted by Caroline_S 19 April, 2015 09:57

Martspec. You say you want to state some "facts" about the school, yet by the sound of it you are not a parent yourself and have heard your "facts" secondhand from a friend who is unhappy. Your post is actually very biased and I do not believe it to be an accurate reflection of the way the vast majority of the parents feel. I do not agree with your statement that "a large number of families are unhappy" with the school and the head. On the contrary, my impression is that the majority of parents are extremely pleased with the new head and the direction she wants to take the school in. You give the impression that families are leaving in their droves but again that is not the case. I think we have gone from about 49 children to 46. A small number might be leaving next year, but we've been told that a small number will also be joining our soon-to-be Year 1. I also know of several families who have turned down offers from other well-regarded schools including Goodrich, Heber and Bessemer Grange to start at or continue with Harris.

Fuschia and Landsberger. It is not fair to compare last year's number of applications with this year's. The admissions process was done completely separately so we were all holding two offers and as such no-one was listing it as one of their 6 choices. Many families did not even know about it until after the admissions process. You are both well-known for taking any opportunity on this forum to have a go at Harris schools for some reason, despite not actually having children at these schools.

messageRe: Harris Primary (East Dulwich) feedback so far...?
Posted by Bisou 19 April, 2015 10:04

Bubblebob, Thank you.
Yes we will of course talk to Jo and have a day when we re visit.
There does seem to be people contributing here on this thread who have another agenda other than the welfare and education of the Children. It's not helpful if someone is just anti Harris for whatever reason without having their Children at the school, it becomes Political. I am not quite clear why some people are just generally Anti Harris academy's maybe someone could enlighten me?
There are advantages and did advantages to this situation which we have to carefully look at, however I do not have any issue with Harris as a rule my only concern is the slight insecurity of a developing school and the transition.

messageRe: Harris Primary (East Dulwich) feedback so far...?
Posted by Bisou 19 April, 2015 10:14

Caroline_s thank you, I thought as much. these posts are Anti Harris as opposed to useful guides to a school, To be honest I want to talk to parents who are happy or indeed unhappy with the school.
I too was under the impression that many people had chosen this school above some others and we also put this school as a preference above some of the others you mention in your post.

messageRe: Harris Primary (East Dulwich) feedback so far...?
Posted by queenB 19 April, 2015 10:18

Hi Bisou
I second the comments from Caroline and Bubblebob. My daughter is at the school and absolutely loves it. I have been very impressed all the way through by the standard of teaching, wrap around provision, involvement of parents with the school as well as its friendly atmosphere. For any specific worries the Head would be more than happy to talk them through with you I'm sure.

messageRe: Harris Primary (East Dulwich) feedback so far...?
Posted by Fuschia 19 April, 2015 11:41

landsberger Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Fuschia Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > 1st preferences for schools are not published
> by
> > LAs.
>
> I am not getting the figures from the LA


I meant, a school can claim whatever no of 1st preferences it likes, as the 'official' figures only show how many families chose a school within the 6 preferences

messageRe: Harris Primary (East Dulwich) feedback so far...?
Posted by Mariamadeit 19 April, 2015 11:52

We turned down a local school in favour of Harris last year, the advantages as I see them to Harris over other schools are:
1. Much smaller class sizes but the same or better teacher ratios (though it looks like the new reception class will be full)
2. Teachers and teaching assistants (some of which also hold teaching qualifications) are friendly, good at their jobs and committed to the school (the first head left as a result of a Harris internal reshuffle which is not expected to happen again, he is still involved in the school and one teacher left unexpectedly over easter, as explained above).
3. The Head is experienced and full of ideas for reaching the target of outstanding when OFSTED visit, she is balanced and approachable and is very well liked by the children and parents. She is at the school gate almost every day and is very hands on with the children.
4. The open plan nature of the reception class allows for free flow between the two areas and the space is changed regularly with various activities set up for the children. The space is far bigger than other classrooms I viewed on open days.
5. Although the outdoor space is small, children do have access to more space (tennis courts for PE) and it is very well set up with various resources, parents were involved in planting and developing the space.
6. As it is a small school, the children know each other, there are no issues with much older children bumping into little ones etc as I have heard can be a problem in other schools. The teachers know all of the children well.
7. The resources, books etc are new and well cared for and the Head has been adding to the resources regularly, my son particularly enjoys the building area which has toy cement mixers, bricks, hard hats etc.
8. The PTA has recently been set up and has been very successful in raising extra funds for the school, which shows the commitment of parents to helping the school.
9. With the small number of children, lots of trips have taken place and are due to take place including zoo, farm, library, wildlife centre etc.
10. The Head of our school and the Girl's school have been working together to ensure that the best opportunities are provided for our school, for example, at Christmas, the children performed eir nativity play on the Girl's school stage, they are also able to use the girl's school facilities.

Yes there are issues with the new site and there are challenges to be overcome with fitting the new reception class on the current site, but I am confident that the Head is doing everything possible to ensure that this goes as smoothly as it can.
Yes there are people who have been offered places at their preferred school and have subsequently moved, but this is normal around here isn't it?
Yes there are parents at school who see the negatives rather than the positives, but isn't that the case everywhere too?
Yes there have been teething problems but nothing you wouldn't expect from a new school, the water pipes froze and school was shut for a day, a member of staff left... All of these things have been managed professionally and parents have been informed.

Not every school is going to suit every child and the difficulty is that parents must decide for their family, what is going to be best, it is a difficult decision but I can say wholeheartedly that we are very pleased with the decision we made in choosing Harris, my son is happy and thriving at the school and for me, that is the best outcome.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit was 2015:04:19:11:55:08 by Mariamadeit.

messageRe: Harris Primary (East Dulwich) feedback so far...?
Posted by Bisou 19 April, 2015 12:14

Thank You Mariamadeit. Great to hear.

messageRe: Harris Primary (East Dulwich) feedback so far...?
Posted by Fuschia 19 April, 2015 12:37

And I am afraid that this school is very much an example of the current problems in education - free schools being set up by private companies on a 'who you know' basis rather than as part of a coordinated system. The companies churn out spin re demand for the schools - most parents would prefer a proper community school.

messageRe: Harris Primary (East Dulwich) feedback so far...?
Posted by Mariamadeit 19 April, 2015 12:59

Fuschia do you have a child at the school?

As I understand it, Harris were the only people who wanted to create a school when James Barber was spearheading a campaign to create a new school in the area. And I am thankful that both James and Harris were able to create this school for us. They have a proven track record of running schools, unlike other "free school" groups. I am not sure exactly what "current problems in education" you are referring to and what your reference is regarding "most parents would prefer a proper community school" but all this negativity is very unhelpful. This thread is about sharing experiences of the school to help prospective parents make a decision on where to send their child. So far, all of the negativity appears to be coming from people with no first hand experience.

messageRe: Harris Primary (East Dulwich) feedback so far...?
Posted by martspec 19 April, 2015 14:14

I'm not interested in any school politics.

I do not have any wish to join any anti Harris groups & there is no agenda on my part.

Bisou - yes many people are clearly anti Harris, they have a bad reputation & they are slated on a regular basis by the media too. But as I have already stated I am indifferent to the fact that this is a Harris school.

My friend is unhappy & she tells me so are many other parents. As a parent myself, It is important to receive a true picture when making such a big decision. It is equally essential to look beyond the spin! Regardless of whether it is this school or another.

This particular school has many issues & is not as great as it is keen to make out. The bottom line is to be viable for funding etc, new schools need bums on seats. Whether it's a Harris school or not parents should not be duped into believing whatever spin a school & their handful of supporters churn out. As I have said in my first post parents should do their own research & decide for themselves. Picnics & walks in the park are all great but the important factors need to be addressed such as the future of the school, the quality of education the new children will receive on this temporary site (with no solid dates for the new site) plus addressing real issues why parents are unhappy & willing to uproot their children from a seemingly great school.
My friend is aware plus happy I have posted about the school as she wants other parents to understand that there are problems & the school community is far from happy. She has said she feels intimidated by these 'super supportive' parents at the school as do other parents who may have a different opinion from theirs. From these responses, I can actually see her point!
We all want the best for our children, please decide what is right for your child. If Harris is your choice than good luck but maybe have a back up plan just in case.
Happy Sunday to you all smiling smiley

messageRe: Harris Primary (East Dulwich) feedback so far...?
Posted by Curmudgeon 19 April, 2015 14:29

When does the building work start on the old police station...there have been no signs

Are they knocking it down and rebuilding?

That's going to be a couple of years minimum isn't it?

messageRe: Harris Primary (East Dulwich) feedback so far...?
Posted by Shaggy 19 April, 2015 15:18

As a parent of a primary school aged child and a former teacher, that's not really all that impressive. Just sounds like most schools.

The reason why there are small class sizes is because they are undersubscribed, so that'll change.

I would hope that all teachers would be friendly to parents. Don't mistake that with them being happy in their jobs.

Also, at the moment it appears to be a school with fewer than 50 pupils, so brilliance should come as standard.

Mariamadeit Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> We turned down a local school in favour of Harris
> last year, the advantages as I see them to Harris
> over other schools are:
> 1. Much smaller class sizes but the same or
> better teacher ratios (though it looks like the
> new reception class will be full)
> 2. Teachers and teaching assistants (some of
> which also hold teaching qualifications) are
> friendly, good at their jobs and committed to the
> school (the first head left as a result of a
> Harris internal reshuffle which is not expected to
> happen again, he is still involved in the school
> and one teacher left unexpectedly over easter, as
> explained above).
> 3. The Head is experienced and full of ideas for
> reaching the target of outstanding when OFSTED
> visit, she is balanced and approachable and is
> very well liked by the children and parents. She
> is at the school gate almost every day and is very
> hands on with the children.
> 4. The open plan nature of the reception class
> allows for free flow between the two areas and the
> space is changed regularly with various activities
> set up for the children. The space is far bigger
> than other classrooms I viewed on open days.
> 5. Although the outdoor space is small, children
> do have access to more space (tennis courts for
> PE) and it is very well set up with various
> resources, parents were involved in planting and
> developing the space.
> 6. As it is a small school, the children know
> each other, there are no issues with much older
> children bumping into little ones etc as I have
> heard can be a problem in other schools. The
> teachers know all of the children well.
> 7. The resources, books etc are new and well
> cared for and the Head has been adding to the
> resources regularly, my son particularly enjoys
> the building area which has toy cement mixers,
> bricks, hard hats etc.
> 8. The PTA has recently been set up and has been
> very successful in raising extra funds for the
> school, which shows the commitment of parents to
> helping the school.
> 9. With the small number of children, lots of
> trips have taken place and are due to take place
> including zoo, farm, library, wildlife centre
> etc.
> 10. The Head of our school and the Girl's school
> have been working together to ensure that the best
> opportunities are provided for our school, for
> example, at Christmas, the children performed eir
> nativity play on the Girl's school stage, they are
> also able to use the girl's school facilities.
>
> Yes there are issues with the new site and there
> are challenges to be overcome with fitting the new
> reception class on the current site, but I am
> confident that the Head is doing everything
> possible to ensure that this goes as smoothly as
> it can.
> Yes there are people who have been offered places
> at their preferred school and have subsequently
> moved, but this is normal around here isn't it?
> Yes there are parents at school who see the
> negatives rather than the positives, but isn't
> that the case everywhere too?
> Yes there have been teething problems but nothing
> you wouldn't expect from a new school, the water
> pipes froze and school was shut for a day, a
> member of staff left... All of these things have
> been managed professionally and parents have been
> informed.
>
> Not every school is going to suit every child and
> the difficulty is that parents must decide for
> their family, what is going to be best, it is a
> difficult decision but I can say wholeheartedly
> that we are very pleased with the decision we made
> in choosing Harris, my son is happy and thriving
> at the school and for me, that is the best
> outcome.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit was 2015:04:19:15:19:58 by Shaggy.

messageRe: Harris Primary (East Dulwich) feedback so far...?
Posted by Norfolkvillas 19 April, 2015 15:37

Curmudgeon, I haven't a crystal ball, so don't know for sure whether we'll be at the permanent site when we're meant to be, and the people controlling the schedule are the DfE, not Harris (I'd actually have more faith if it was Harris controlling the timelines!). I do know the following though:

- The school has said we'll be transferring to the site for the start of the September 2016 term
- The project is still on schedule (ie planning application has been submitted and awaiting hearing)
- The police station is being pulled down and rebuilt, but the company doing the build have loads of other similar sized school projects on their website with build times completed in 12 months, so it must be possible, although I too originally assumed it would require a longer timescale.

I guess I do have faith that, whatever happens, the school will find a workable solution for our kids. If that means staggered playtimes, or using the girls school's dining room, that doesn't sound particularly disastrous to me. My son has certainly loved his trips across to the girls school to use their cookery classrooms, being on the big stage for their nativity etc.

I can see that there is an element of faith needed though, when it comes to the move date, and can understand why some would find that offputting.

martspec, welcome to the forum - I can see you registered specifically to join this thread. I hope prospective parents will take with a pinch of salt your jumbled confusion of different accusations (poor teaching? bad reputation?) towards a school you admit not having anything to do with.

Bisou, ref your question about free-flow classrooms in reception, I was under the impression from when I was looking round various schools last year that this was now considered best practice wherever physically possible as it allows teachers and TAs to split the two classes into smaller teaching groups so that learning can be tailored to different abilities,stages and paces - especially important in reception where even the starting ages between just 4 and almost 5 creates such a huge range of ability and aptitude, even before you add in any other factors.

messageRe: Harris Primary (East Dulwich) feedback so far...?
Posted by martspec 19 April, 2015 16:18

Norfolkvillas - You are correct I did specifically join to comment on this thread after reading the comments. But that does not make any of my views less valid than anybody else's.Why are you so worried about prospective parents hearing about other parent's experiences of this school? Surely it's not just all the happy people who are allowed to have a say? Parents are entitled to make their own decisions based on what they feel is right for their child.

Having a close friend as a parent at this school, living in the area & being a parent myself allows me to make these observations on this forum. An organisation gets a bad reputation from bad practice not from comments made on forums.

messageRe: Harris Primary (East Dulwich) feedback so far...?
Posted by Mariamadeit 19 April, 2015 17:01

@shaggy I am also a teacher and have worked locally, in other counties and abroad. Yes it does sound like other schools doesn't it, which is why I am unclear on the negativity that seems to be being banded about. For us, the small class sizes have been advantageous and as there will only be reception and year one from September, that provides opportunities to the school that other schools do not necessarily have.

@martspec yes everybody has a right to their say, but so far you haven't actually given any tangible examples of problems, other than there being supportive parents. May I suggest that your "friend" either does this herself or brings it up with the head or via the parent forums that the head has set up for these circumstances so that the school has an opportunity to address them.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit was 2015:04:19:17:09:55 by Mariamadeit.

messageRe: Harris Primary (East Dulwich) feedback so far...?
Posted by ksh 19 April, 2015 19:50

Thank you to all of the current parents of the school who have answered my thread and made useful comments. Thank you also for making us prospective parents feel welcome in the school community.

To anyone who is on here just to slate a brand new school that they have nothing to do with themselves, your views (whilst you are of course entitled to give them if you really feel you need to) are not helpful. This is because:

a) you have nothing to do with the school and so are relying on hearsay and/or your own political views; and
b) funnily enough, the parents of pupils who have been offered a place in September do not have much other choice in the matter as East Dulwich is a busy place with lots of kids. We therefore are not shopping around, picking and choosing a school that is perfect in every way. Generally, we are doing what most others around us are doing and sending our children to our local school. If this is such a terrible thing which you feel you need to try and put us off, I'd suggest it is you that has a problem, not the school.

Frankly, I think it is a bit weird scouring the forum looking for stuff to make unhelpful negative comments on. I'd have thought people would have better things to do with their time.

Like the other people on here, I of course want to hear the negative stuff IF it comes first hand from current or past parents. Otherwise, I'd rather hear how parents are working with the new head to make a great new school.

Goodness, who'd have thought such a simple question would lead to such debate!

messageRe: Harris Primary (East Dulwich) feedback so far...?
Posted by Bisou 19 April, 2015 20:08

KSH. I am with you on this. Some of the comments are pretty unhelpful and do clearly have another agenda.
We are in the same boat please feel free to PM me.
Bisou.

messageRe: Harris Primary (East Dulwich) feedback so far...?
Posted by Sol 19 April, 2015 21:46

Haven't seen any work started at the police station yet. I will be interested to see how this is going to work; it seems many people is happy with the temporary side which is good. Having the park in front of the school is a big plus.

messageRe: Harris Primary (East Dulwich) feedback so far...?
Posted by Peckhamryemum 19 April, 2015 22:26

Our son will be starting reception in September and we couldn't be happier, both my older children attend Harris Schools in East Dulwich (boys & girls) and we have had no problems, in fact our daughter left the girls school with all A*-B grades at GCSE and is now about to Finish her 1st yr of A Levels, so I resent all the Anti Harris comments. They aren't helpful And are clearly from people who have no real facts about the schools.
Reading the comments posted by the current parents has made us feel very welcome already.

messageRe: Harris Primary (East Dulwich) feedback so far...?
Posted by Mariamadeit 20 April, 2015 07:40

Welcome peckhamryemum and sol?

There is expected to be more info re the police station site after the election when things can get moving again.

messageRe: Harris Primary (East Dulwich) feedback so far...?
Posted by first mate 20 April, 2015 08:09

Sol, why is having the school in front of the park a big plus?

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