Extra School Places Found In Merton

Tories still calling for a new Wimbledon school

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More than 200 reception class school places have been found for school children in Merton from September 2011.

The extra places are needed because of a 30% rise in the birth rate in Merton in the past six years, helping create an immediate need for places for around 300 children in the next two years.

The following schools will be offering an extra 30 places in the next school year:

  • All Saints CE, Wimbledon
  • Gorringe Park, Mitcham
  • Liberty, Mitcham
  • Morden
  • St Mary's RC, Wimbledon
  • Singlegate, Wimbledon
  • William Morris, Mitcham.

The Labour-run council is also applying to the Schools Adjudicator to provide an additional 30 reception places at Wimbledon Park School by setting up an Admissions Priority Area (APA), providing greater priority for places to the west and south of the school, rather than from neighbouring Wandsworth.

The schools adjudicator is expected to make a decision in February and a meeting will be held with parents of Wimbledon Park School this month.

An extra class at All Saints CE School will remain at the East Road site along with proposals to permanently expand the school at the South Wimbledon Community Centre and Youth Centre building from September 2012. The council says work is taking place to ensure both sets of users can either continue to use the facility or find an alternative in the next 18 months.

But the Conservative opposition feels an original £47m plan, including building a new school in north Wimbledon, would still be the better solution to the problem and will be pressing the council to change its plans.

Councillor Debbie Shears (left), the opposition leader, said: "We feel the problem has not been resolved and a new school is needed. The money is still in the capital programme. What is the fallback position if the Wimbledon Park APA doesn't go ahead?"

She said users of the popular South Wimbledon Community Centre would suffer if they have to move elsewhere for their activities and children could be "trailing" across the borough to be taken to their school.

Merton's cabinet member for education Councillor Peter Walker (right) said: "We have worked extremely hard to ensure we can provide school places for every pupil who needs one next year, but the large increase in the child population continues to be extremely challenging."

He said parents who need a reception year place for September 2011 should complete their application by the closing date of Saturday January 15. They can state a preference for up to six schools in Merton and neighbouring boroughs, and parents are advised to use as many preferences as possible.

The hunt for the extra places at schools in the borough follows a consultation last month involving parents, schools and residents affected by the school expansion proposals.

January 14, 2011