Priority to be given to children from Merton
Permission has been given for 30 school places to be created at Wimbledon Park Primary School, with priority to be given to youngsters from the west and south of the school.
The extra places are in addition to more than 200 reception class school places which have already been found for school children in Merton from September 2011.
They 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.
Merton Borough Council had applied to the Schools Adjudicator to set up an Admissions Priority Area (APA) for Wimbledon Park School to give priority to children from the borough, rather than neighbouring Wandsworth. The adjudicator has now approved that plan.
Paul Lufkin, Head of Wimbledon Primary School, said: "This decision will mean we will be able to offer an education to some of the children who may otherwise not have found a school within reasonable distance from their homes. We look forward to welcoming those children into our school next academic year."
Peter Walker (left), Merton Council cabinet member for education, added: "We are very pleased with the adjudicator's decision. This increase in places will now mean that the school can accommodate children from the areas in this part of Wimbledon Park around the school where there is a pressing need.
"This underlines our policy of expanding good local schools which have established good leadership and provides best value for money. It is a clear demonstration that we are planning effectively to meet the significant increase in demand for reception places which the borough now faces."
The decision was the news a campaigning group of parents had been waiting for. The group of people with pre-school age children living in Wimbledon Park had written to the governors of the school asking them to support the proposal.
The letter said: "We believe that it is a basic right for our children to be able to attend a local school. Expanding Wimbledon Park Primary with an APA is the only way to give them an opportunity to do so."
A spokesman for the campaign group said of the decision: "This is excellent news. It's a big relief for those of us with children due to start school in September. It means that our children will be able to walk to school with their friends. We will be extremely supportive if the school should permanently expand as this is an ongoing problem in the area. But this is a great start."
The council's Conservative group also welcomed the announcement, but felt the original plan for a new school in north Wimbledon, as part of an alternative expansion scheme costing £47m, was the best long-term solution.
Conservative Education Spokesman, Councillor Richard Hilton said: "Local Conservatives welcome the Schools Adjudicator’s decision. Indeed it was something I specifically raised with the Education Minister, Lord Hill, at the meeting with him organised by Stephen Hammond MP in January.
"However, this is only for one year and parents in Wimbledon Park need to know there will be sufficient local primary school places for their children not just this September, but also in years to come. That is why we continue to campaign for a new school in the north of the borough."
Merton has already announced the following schools in the borough will also be offering an extra 30 places in the next school year:
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.
February 9, 2011