WALTHAM FOREST: Children "kept in nursery to ease school places crisis" (From East London and West Essex Guardian Series)
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WALTHAM FOREST: Children "kept in nursery to ease school places crisis"
CHILDREN are being kept in nursery longer to help ease the borough’s primary school places crisis, it has been claimed.
The borough has for many years admitted all children born between September and February to reception class before their fifth birthday.
But the Guardian understands officers have now been told to concentrate on making sure pupils get a place in the first term after they turn five, the maximum age required by law, in order to cope with a huge shortfall in school places.
A number of children who should have started school in January are already having to wait in nursery for longer, according to a school source.
But the council say there has been no change in policy, insisting every child of parents who applied before the January deadline were given a place.
A total of 162 pupils do not currently have a school place for September, prompting the council to provide temporary classrooms and ask schools to take more pupils in.
The move has been dismissed as a "sticking-plaster solution", as the shortage is predicted to worsen in the future.
Walthamstow MP Neil Gerrard has claimed Waltham Forest Council did not respond to his offer of help to secure a bigger slice of government funding to help ease the crisis.
Waltham Forest was eventually only awarded £4 million out of a £200 million package, compared to £17 million received by Newham.
This is despite the neighbouring boroughs have similar birth rates and population profiles. The shortage of primary school places is beginning to frustrate some parents.
Mr Gerrard said: “This is not something unique to Waltham Forest, but nobody seems to really know why it is considered a bigger problem in some boroughs than others.”
He admitted that the council now has little choice but to use mobile classrooms and hold some children in nursery.
Doreen Palmer, 62, of Gosport Road, Leyton, fears that there won't be a space in Thomas Gamuel school for her 17-month-old grandaughter Mia Miller when she reaches school age.
the 62-year-old said: “Both myself and Mia's mother, my daughter Shelley, are worried.
“We are concerned about plans to teach children in buildings that are not at school, it is not a school environment and is wrong.”
Natalie Thompson’s son Joshua cannot attend Riverley School in Park Road, Leyton, which is next to their home, because it is oversubscribed. Instead, he has to Thomas Gamuel in Colchester Road, Walthamstow.
The 26-year-old said: “We have to come all the way down here, sometimes the bus does not run and we have to walk, it is not ideal.”
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