Wimbledon schools open doors to more children

Merton Council has responded to the needs of its residents and secured additional places at Wimbledon Chase Primary School.

The Schools Adjudicator has approved Merton Council’s application to increase the admission numbers at the school from 60 to 90 places from September 2009.

The Schools Adjudicator also agreed that there should be an Admissions Priority Area for the school for the additional 30 places, accepting that without it, pupils who are near more than one school might gain a place at the school while those children to the north of the school could be left without any place at a local school.

The report from the Schools Adjudicator pointed towards the exceptional increase in the number of children seeking a primary school place in the borough.

It also highlighted that at the time the local authority determined the arrangements for 2009, it could not have been certain that an additional 30 places would be needed at the school.

The council will shortly be publishing a statutory proposal for the permanent expansion of the school from 2010/11.

Councillor Krystal Miller, Merton Council’s assistant cabinet member for schools says:

‘This is great news for the borough. These extra places are going to make a world of difference to local families who are struggling to find places for their children. I am delighted that the Schools Adjudicator agreed with the council and was complimentary about how we have attempted to keep people informed throughout the process of providing additional places.

“We are committed to ensuring that the educational needs of the children in Merton are met and will continue planning with schools and families to ensure that every child who currently does not have a place at primary school gets one by September.”

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.

In response to the increased demand for school places in the borough the council has been working with schools and parents on the proposed expansions of both Wimbledon Chase and Holy Trinity primary schools. The council continues to work actively to ensure sufficient reception places are available for 2009/2010 in the context of a significantly rising population in South West London.

· 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. A statutory notice will be published permanently to expand Wimbledon Chase from 420 to 630 places.

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

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