Turbulence has been something of a problem at Banister. Turbulence refers to the number of children joining and leaving the school. Our numbers are higher than average – much higher in some year groups. Why? It’s mainly to do with where we are in Southampton. There’s a lot of rented property round here, and families that rent are more likely to move than those who buy. We also have a lot of families new to this country, and not all of them stay. And if a child’s first choice of school does not have a vacancy, that child will be sent to one that does – and will probably leave as soon as a place comes up at the first choice. It’s that last bit that can be the real problem. If you’ve got places, you are highly likely to have them filled – only to become vacant again after a couple of months.
In Summer 2015 turbulence had almost reached breaking point for two year groups. Year 4 had had nearly 120 pupils through its 60 places over the previous 5 years; and Year 2 was almost as bad. It was a governor who came up with the solution. “Why don’t we close those year groups. Tell the Admissions office that we won’t take any more until the numbers drop below 50.” We didn’t know if Admissions would play along – if a school has vacancies they are obliged to take pupils. (Though we have discovered since that the school can refuse if the admission would be significantly detrimental to the staff or other children.) But Admission did agree, and no new children were admitted to those year groups for over a year.
We continue with our policy of capping classes when turbulence becomes too high. Years 5 and 6 are closed currently, to protect the education of their children.