CHILDREN GETTING INTO PRIMARY SCHOOL OF CHOICE HITS FIVE YEAR LOW

The proportion of Southwark children being offered a place in one of their chosen primary schools is at a five-year low, according to new figures released yesterday.

Official admissions figures for the borough show that 5.8% (197) of four and five-year olds were not offered a place at any of their six preferred schools for September’s reception year intake – up from 4% last year. It is the council’s worst record on primary school admissions since 2009/10, when a different admissions system was in place.

Liberal Democrat opposition councillors have said the Labour-run council’s poor performance is more evidence it has failed to tackle the school places time-bomb in the borough. They point to the fact there are now fewer primary school places available this year than in recent years – making competition for places more severe - and a reluctance by the council to support new schools in the borough.

The new primary admissions figures also show that 1 in 5 pupils (21%) were unsuccessful in securing their first choice primary school – worse than the London average of 19%.

Southwark Liberal Democrats have pledged to oversee the building of new primary and secondary schools if they win control of the council in May’s local elections. Liberal Democrat councillors have already been at the forefront of local campaigns for new schools, including helping to secure funding and land for new free schools in Dulwich.

Southwark Liberal Democrats' full election manifesto (and a more detailed policy paper on Education and Childcare) have been published online.

Commenting, Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Children and Young People, Cllr Rosie Shimell, said:

"It’s really disappointing to see these figures dropping down to a five-year low. Clearly the council needs a shake-up on schools. It needs to put in place a robust, long-term plan to deal with the growing shortage of places."

"Labour’s current ‘head-in-the-sand’ approach isn’t helping parents with young children, who deserve to have a council that is on their side."

"A Liberal Democrat council is committed to building new schools where they are needed to bring an end to Labour’s school places time-bomb."