Wimbledon schools open doors to more children

Merton councillors have agreed to take forward proposals to make more places available for local children at two of Wimbledon’s top performing schools.

Applications to the Schools Adjudicator will now be made to ensure the additional 30 places per year will be available for September 2009 at both Wimbledon Chase and Holy Trinity Schools.

In the case of Wimbledon Chase, councillors agreed to apply for a specific admissions priority area for the school which would give some priority for the extra places to an area which has recently not been able to obtain a place at any primary school within reasonable walking distance.

Merton councillors agreed that substantial capital funding would be made available for the schools to be expanded with new modern facilities.

A formal statutory consultation process will now start in the New Year permanently to expand Holy Trinity Primary School from 210 to 420 places, and a statutory notice will be published permanently to expand Wimbledon Chase from 420 to 630 places.

Following the consultations it is expected that councillors will make a final decision on the permanent expansions in March.

Councillor Krystal Miller, Merton Council’s assistant cabinet member for schools says:
‘This is great news for the borough. We’ve had the support of both schools’ governors who recognise that our population is growing and that there is a very real need for extra places in our schools.

“These extra places are going to make a world of difference to local families who are struggling to find places for their children. We’re glad that we can move these projects forward to the next stage and that we’re one step closer to offering local school provision to more children in Merton.

Notes to editors:
The Borough has been subject to demographic change in recent years, with an actual and forecast rising primary school age population. Across the borough the mid-range forecast for reception year is five additional forms of entry for 2009/10 compared to 2007/08 levels, rising to 12 forms of entry for 2011/12.

Places in Mitcham for 2009/10 are being provided by means of Benedict and St. Thomas of Canterbury Primary Schools returning to their previous admission numbers.

The proposed expansions of Wimbledon Chase and Holy Trinity would provide an additional form of entry (30 pupils) at each school – a total of 60 places per year in the Wimbledon area, and eventually 420 places across the schools.

Permanent expansions require a process defined by law, the first of which is a statutory consultation. This was carried out at Wimbledon Chase in June/July 2008. Extensive consultation has also been carried out for Holy Trinity including the publication of a feasibility study, but an official statutory consultation will be required before deciding whether to proceed with publication of a statutory notice.

The increase to a school’s admission number outside the normal admissions round should be agreed by the Schools Adjudicator, hence an application will be made for both schools to increase by 30 pupils for this September compared to their published admission number.

To see a full version of the report to go to councillors on Monday 15 December 2008 which details all recommendations, background information and a proposed timetable for the expansions at both schools, go to the ‘Cabinet’ section of the following page http://www.merton.gov.uk/council/committee to see a full agenda and list of reports for that meeting.

Any expansions that take place will be subject to the usual planning process and planning permission being granted.