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Education and learning

Primary School places campaign Parliament bound

Campaigning school children will take the council’s fight for more primary school places to Parliament by paying the education minister a visit.

More than 200 pupils from Immanuel and St Andrew Primary School in Streatham will hand deliver posters they created to warn Michael Gove of the desperate need for more primary school places in Lambeth on Tuesday, July 19.

“We are joining forces with Lambeth Council so we can take the local authority’s fight to Parliament and directly lobby Michael Gove for more primary school places. We need to act now because the shortage in Lambeth is playing with our children’s educational futures,” said Headteacher, James Robinson.

“We cannot go on like this. Our schools are at bursting point. There is more pressure than ever before for us to provide more children with a primary school place. We cannot meet this demand unless the Government releases money for us to permanently expand.”

Lambeth Council Cabinet Member for Children and Young People’s Service, Cllr Pete Robbins, added: “Schools in Lambeth are doing what they can to cope with the shortage of places and several have taken extra “bulge classes” to meet growing demand. But the reality is we need a fairer slice of Government funding to provide a proper long-term solution so children in Lambeth don’t get a second-class education. The funding situation now is pretty desperate – we may need up to £50m just to ensure we can provide sufficient primary places by 2015. I need local schools like Immanuel & St Andrew to campaign with me and make sure our voice is heard”.

An increase in the birth rate and other factors like changes to the housing market means demand for reception and primary school places in Lambeth has already become critical.

In some areas, demand has increased by 40% in just four years and is rising. Lambeth is warning that in a few years, demand will greatly exceed the number of places available.

But the shortage is acute in Streatham. Immanuel and St Andrew, Stockwell, and  Telferscot schools are temporarily expanding this year by creating ‘bulge classes’ – a short term solution which provides a school with 30 additional temporary school places. Immanuel and St Andrew Primary School has created one bulge class each year for the past three years to meet growing demand.

The school no longer has the space or the funding to create further bulge classes and needs to permanently expand. It has received 150 applications for just 60 school places this year which means the school’s waiting list could triple from an average of 30 children to a staggering 90. The school is calling on the Government for more money so it can expand from a two form entry school to a three-form entry school which means it would increase from 60 permanent school places to 90.

Lambeth Council’s own leaflet and poster campaign, featuring Lambeth pre school  children, outlines the scale of the problem and asks new parents to write to Michael Gove. The campaign is gathering pace with more than 100 parents writing letters and future plans for petitions and further lobbying work.

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