April 19 2014 Latest news:
by Tim Lamden
Monday, May 13, 2013
Parents in Camden are among the least likely in London to be offered a place for their child at their first choice primary school.
Figures released by the Pan London Admissions Board show that 73 per cent of parents applying for primary school places in Camden were successful with their first choice application for the next academic year
This fell well below the average number receiving first choice school places across London. The average for the capital was 81 per cent and only Hammersmith & Fulham and Kensington & Chelsea recorded fewer first choices.
By contrast Haringey neared the top of the table in seventh place, with almost 84 per cent of children receiving a place at their first choice primary school, and Barnet was mid-table with a rate of 80 per cent.
Cllr Theo Blackwell, Camden Council’s cabinet member for finance, insisted the figures were “hugely impressive” in the light of the popularity of Camden schools and the challenges facing the local authority.
“There is competition for places because our schools are obviously the best in the country,” he said. “We can’t stop people on the borders coming in. We give places to children from Brent, Islington, Barnet and Westminster.”
He also pointed to the constraints placed on local authorities by government policy and spending cuts.
But he said Camden was bucking the trend London-wide with its Community Investment Programme (CIP) allowing it to invest in schools with money from selling off council-owned properties.
“We are one of the only councils in London with its own programme to expand schools, paid for by us. We are trying to do what we can in the context of government policy which says we should have no involvement in schools.”
Last year, plans for a brand new state-of-the-art school for the deaf in King’s Cross won the go-ahead from Camden Council, hard evidence of Camden’s commitment to improving school provision, Cllr Blackwell says.
Frank Barnes School for Deaf Children will move from its current location in the Jubilee Waterside Centre, in Camley Street, King’s Cross, to the new King’s Cross Development in 2015.
Last July, the council also approved plans for an extension to Kingsgate Primary School in West Hampstead, which will have a new building in nearby Liddell Road to provide an extra 60 school places a year.
West Hampstead is one of the areas of the borough that has experienced greatest pressure on school places in recent years.