Wimbledon school opens doors to more children

Merton Council has responded to the needs of residents and given final approval to the permanent provision of additional places at Wimbledon Chase Primary School, subject to obtaining planning permission for the building.

The proposals to permanently expand Wimbledon Chase Primary School were approved at a Cabinet meeting on Monday following a statutory consultation period with parents, staff, governors, residents and other interested parties earlier this year.
The decision to expand the school from 420 places plus nursery to 630 places plus nursery comes in response to the increased demand for primary school places in Merton.

The expansion will allow for a permanent increase in admission numbers from 60 to 90 places at Wimbledon Chase from September 2010, which includes the introduction of an Admissions Priority Area (APA) for the school to ensure the additional places are directed towards those areas where there is not an alternative local school.

The independent Schools Adjudicator has previously approved the temporary increase in the admission number for the 2008/09 and 2009/10 school years.

Yvette Stanley, Merton Council’s director for children, schools and families says:

‘These extra places are going to make a world of difference to local families who are struggling to find places for their children.

“Our priority is to ensure we have sufficient places in our schools for all those children in Merton who want one. However, the increased demand for primary school places is likely to continue in the medium term and this is a major challenge for Merton and London as a whole.

“We have managed to find sufficient funds for expansion works across Merton over the next two years but an increase in funding from central government is essential if we are to provide permanent building solutions beyond this time.

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

The council’s approval of the expansion is conditional on the granting of planning permission to extend the school building for which an application was submitted last month.

The council will also work with partners to explore improving transport and access issues.
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 expansion of Wimbledon Chase primary school and other schools to ensure sufficient reception year places are provided for 2009/10 and beyond.

· The expansions of Wimbledon Chase would provide an additional form of entry (30 pupils), and eventually 210 additional places across the school.

· The Schools Adjudicator approved Merton Council’s application for a variation to the admission number at the school from 60 to 90 places for September 2009. 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 and a statutory notice was published in February to permanently expand Wimbledon Chase from 420 to 630 places.