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Column for the Croydon Advertiser: Record number of Croydon families offered top three choice of primary school
25/04/2014 12:03:00


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.

Comment on this blog


Readers' Comments

On 26/04/2014 10:04:00 Grahame wrote:
You say that 94% of four year olds have been offered their first choice. Stating the obvious, this means their parents' choice. Probably, this applies at eleven or twelve too when the children go on to the secondary level. But what criteria are applied? What is a good school? What is the right school for the child? Does the school specialise in science; in music and dance; in history, geography or English; in wood or metalwork; in business studies and so on. Or is it the location? What is it?

Isn't it the case that since the abolition of the grammar schools (and indeed the excellent secondary modern schools-this should not be ignored) there has been no real choice in the State sector. It was considered by some people in the 1960s that the system established by the Education Act of 1944 was divisive and had to go: this was the view of the privately-educated Socialist Education Minister Tony Crosland who clearly had no respect for what politicians call "ordinary people" who have ability and ambition. The people who make this country successful. The division today in society is between people who have a private education and people who go to school in the State sector. That is the real and experienced division. The start you have in life affects the whole of your life. Not just in education but in other things such as health services and so on. If you disagree, please say so.

One of the real divisions in Britain today as we progress back to the 19th century is between independent schools which offer educational choice (at a price) and State schools which appear to offer choice of a kind (and we are paying for them, I know)

I am not making a political point. But I would draw attention to the reforming and progressive Conservative Rab Butler who pioneered the 1944 Education Act which enabled children from poor backgrounds ( or at least not rich) to get a good education and a good start in life.




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