Merton On Track With New School Places

Some children still waiting on offers

Merton council says it is on track to accommodate its entire new intake of pupils wanting to start at the borough's primary schools this September.

The council received 2,545 applications and 79.7% (2,029) of parents got their first preference for their child. The council says this is above the average for first preference offers in London as a whole (79.4%) and neighbouring boroughs of Sutton (78.4%), Croydon (76.4%) and Wandsworth (69.2%).

In common with many other local authorities, however, some children in Merton have not yet received an offer in the first round of allocation of places.

And there are claims that some youngsters in Wimbledon have been offered places as far away as Mitcham.

The council says that parents of children who have not yet received an offer have received a letter advising them of what they should do. Plans are now being progressed to create extra places in schools which will be confirmed in time for the second round of offers now expected to take place in the week ending May 13.

The council will then also reallocate vacancies that have arisen as a result of applicants rejecting offers or making alternative plans. Councillor Peter Walker (left), Merton Council's cabinet member for education said he was sure that all Merton children would be accommodated in time for the new school year.

"The reason that so many children have been offered their first choice is down to the council's policy of expanding in 2011 existing outstanding schools especially in the Wimbledon area," he said.

"We still have some late adjustments to make before finalising our offer for local children but I am confident that this will result in the percentage of first choices rising and, as important, most children being accepted for a school to which they can walk."

But Conservative education spokesman Richard Hilton said: "It appears Councillor Walker and his Labour colleagues severely underestimated the demand in Wimbledon.

"I have been contacted by several Wimbledon parents who have children which have been offered a primary school place in Mitcham. We simply cannot have a situation where children as young as 4 or 5 years old are travelling two or three miles to get to school.  We will be holding him to his word that children will be able to walk to school.

"It is time that Labour, admit they have got it wrong on the need for a new School,as the Conservatives proposed last year listens to the majority feedback to their own consultation exercise and moves forward plans for a school in Gap Road immediately."

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April 12, 2011