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4,800 London children fail to get a primary school place

Anna Davis, Education Correspondent - 18 April 2013

Nearly 5,000 London children have failed to get a place at any primary school they want to go to, figures reveal.

Parents now face an agonising wait to find out if they will have to send their child to an unpopular school or one in another borough in September. Experts warn that London is facing a schools crisis, with 90,000 more places needed to cope with growing demand.

Parents of four-year-olds starting this year must name six primary schools in order of preference. Today’s results show 4,800 children have not been allocated a place, or have been given a school not on their list.

Overall, 81 per cent of children got into their first preference school — up three percentage points from last year — and 95 per cent of children were given a place at one of their six options.

A spokeswoman for the Pan London Admissions Board, which allocates places, said there are a number of reasons why parents might not have been offered a place at any of the schools on their form, including parents only listing one school and a huge demand for some popular schools.

Helen Jenner, chairwoman of the Pan London Admissions Board, said: “It is important to emphasise that, however proficient the admissions system is, it cannot create extra places at schools which are already full. London local authorities are working hard to try to ensure that they can offer every child a school place for the start of the new academic year, but given the scale of the demand for school places across the capital this is becoming increasingly difficult.”

Parents in Barking and Dagenham, the City of London and Newham were most likely to get into their first preference school, with more than 89 per cent getting their top choice. Children in Hammersmith and Fulham, Camden and Wandsworth were least likely to, with around 73 per cent getting in to their preferred school.

A report by the National Audit Office last month revealed more than a third of all new primary school places required by next year are needed in London. The Government announced £1.6 billion of funding for new school places on March 1. London received over a third of that pot, £576 million.

‘Oversubscribed schools may force me to go private’

Mother of one Sorrel Osborne said she might be forced to go private after being disappointed by the state primary schools near her.

The 39-year-old from East Dulwich said her preferred choice for daughter Lara, Heber Primary, was so oversubscribed that she did not even put it down as one of her preferences.

She was so concerned that she would not get a place at a good local state school that she applied to private schools as well. She said: “I am a great believer in state schools but when it comes down to your child’s education you want the best you can.”

Mrs Osborne was offered a place at a local state school rated as “good” by Ofsted, but has mixed feelings because it was classed as failing five years ago. She said: “We need a new school in East Dulwich but there are not the resources. The existing schools are becoming pressured and squeezed.”

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