6 January 2010

Where we stand on primary school places in East Dulwich and Nunhead

Many readers will already know about the chaotic allocation of primary school places in East Dulwich and Nunhead for 2009-10. The council hugely underestimated the demand for places in local schools and failed to provide enough staff to administer the process adequately. As a result, many children were allocated to schools far away from where they lived and many parents were left in the dark about the status of their applications.

Following pressure from local parents, Labour councillors and MPs, the council has promised to provide extra classes in local schools for 2010-11 and to employ more staff to improve the administration of the applications process and communication with local parents. In recent weeks, after a successful campaign by our local MPs, Tessa Jowell and Harriet Harman, highlighting the acute shortage of primary school places in our area, the Government has reacted by allocating an additional £12million to Southwark council to address this problem. This is a serious amount of money that, as long as the council plans carefully and soon, will go a long way to ensuring there are enough places in local schools.

However, it is not clear that the Lib Dems and Tories running the council have reacted sufficiently to local concern. They've still not told us if they will spend the majority of the £12 million on extra places in East Dulwich and Nunhead (where it is most needed) and they've still not employed the permanent extra staff in the schools admissions team, four months after announcing that they would so.

In consultation with local parents, we will putting as much pressure as possible on the council to act. Your local Labour candidates will be campaigning for the following actions from Southwark council:-

1. Every child must be given the option of a place at a local school. We want every child to be able to walk to school.

2. The bulk of the extra £12 million allocated by the Government should be spent on permanent, extra classrooms in the areas where it is most needed: East Dulwich and Nunhead.

3. A reversal of the Lib Dem/Tory decision to delay the allocation of places until May, so that the announcement falls after the local elections. Parents must be informed of the outcome of their child’s application by April – as they were in 2009. Any delay, for purely political reasons, will cause more confusion and concern.

4. The council must take sensible steps to ensure that the many local children, who live just too far away from their nearest school to get a place there, do not end up in schools miles away from home. Parents must be confident that ‘bulge’ classes at popular local schools benefit local children rather than attracting children from other areas.

So that's where we stand on this issue. We would urge the Lib Dems and Tories who control the council to put these policies in place as a matter of urgency. Further delay and indecision will only lead to more problems down the line.

1 comment:

  1. Point 3. That's absolutely shameful. I thank you for your committment to getting this reversed and fully support your efforts.