Last week Croydon Council announced that it would be investing a further £34.5million in providing 570 new permanent primary school places across the borough in the light of an increase of nearly 10% in the demand for reception places in the last two years.
The Council is right to act quickly on this – projections tell us that between 2013 and 2015 Croydon will need at least 550 more permanent places.
But what is fuelling this demand for places? Evidence shows that there has been a dramatic rise in birth rates in Croydon over the past decade – in the borough as a whole they’re up 32% since 2001 but central Croydon has seen a dramatic 67% increase.
Another key factor is what’s called ‘inward migration’ – people from elsewhere in the UK choosing to make Croydon their home. Although this is encouraging evidence that our town has a better reputation than we may think, it puts an incredible strain on our public services.
Under the current Conservative administration, our schools are now performing better than the national average but this performance will not be maintained if our schools become overcrowded. The Council’s investment demonstrates that they are determined to avoid this happening and ensure that our schools continue to improve.
They are considering permanently expanding Downsview, Norbury Manor, Parish Church, Howard and Forestdale schools. Annex expansions are also in the pipeline for Brigstock Manor, which will provide extra places for Whitehorse Manor School, and Stroud Green Lodge, which will allow Oasis Shirley Park to expand.
As ever they will be consulting residents on their plans between 18 September and 18 November 2012. Parents of children at these schools will obviously want reassuring that the changes won’t be to the detriment of their children. I’ll keep you updated as these plans develop.