Column for the Croydon Advertiser: Record number of Croydon families offered top three choice of primary school
Any readers who have young children who turn five in the next school year would have likely spent the last few weeks nervously waiting to hear if they’d got into their first choice of primary school. I know from personal experience how stressful the application process can be, which is why I’m delighted that a record-breaking 94% of Croydon’s four-year olds have been offered one of their top three choices of primary school for this September.
I’ve written before about how Croydon is experiencing a school places crisis and the work I've been doing up at Westminster to try to secure funding to build the additional school places we desperately need. I’m delighted that my lobbying has paid off. In March last year, the Department for Education announced that Croydon will receive over £63 million pounds over the next two years to fund new school places, significantly more than any other council in the country. This brings the total funding allocated for new school places during the period 2011-15 to £144 million, compared with £17.7 million provided to Croydon by the Labour government during 2007-11.
But thanks must also go to Cllr Tim Pollard and his incredible team of Council officers, without whom so many of the parents who have received good news in the last few days would not be celebrating.
And there is more to do to make sure that even more Croydon parents get a place at one of the schools they've chosen.
It’s ironic that this good news comes just a week after Labour's Shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt commented to the Advertiser that there would be 'crippling shortages' and warned darkly of pupils without places.
No Croydon parent who applied by the January deadline is without an offer of a place for their child and by September 2015 the borough will have 5,220 more primary school places than it did in 2012. Perhaps Mr Hunt will apologise for his scaremongering, but I'm not holding my breath.
This article first appeared in the Croydon Advertiser on Friday 25th April 2014.