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More Camden pupils win place at first choice school but borough lags behind London average

It is thought free schools may be helping to ease the demand for places at Camden primaries. Pictured is headteacher Vicky Briody at Abacus Belsize Primary School on its opening day last year. Picture: Nigel Sutton It is thought free schools may be helping to ease the demand for places at Camden primaries. Pictured is headteacher Vicky Briody at Abacus Belsize Primary School on its opening day last year. Picture: Nigel Sutton

Thursday, April 24, 2014
1:00 PM

Twenty-six children in Camden do not have a place to start primary school in September after spaces were allocated last week – a significant improvement on last year’s figures.

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Newham 90.76

Barking & Dagenham 89.89

Havering 89.10

City of London 87.50

Bexley 86.53

Enfield 85.82

Tower Hamlets 85.68

Hillingdon 84.39

Sutton 84.10

Ealing 83.22

Redbridge 82.03

Westminster 82.00

Waltham Forest 81.96

Hounslow 81.91

Croydon 81.79

Kingston upon Thames 81.55

Brent 80.38

Greenwich 80.34

Barnet 80.30

Haringey 79.90

Richmond upon Thames 79.84

Southwark 79.57

Lambeth 78.58

Hackney 78.26

Harrow 77.45

Merton 77.43

Bromley 77.23

Camden 77.15

Lewisham 75.42

Hammersmith and Fulham 75.21

Islington 74.20

Wandsworth 73.26

Kensington and Chelsea 61.59

Average 80.74

The number represents just 1 per cent of the applications for places at the borough’s schools and is far lower than the 100 children who were without a place after primary allocations last year.

Camden bucked the national trend as 77pc of children were allocated a place at their first choice school, up from 73pc last year.

Nearly nine in 10 children, or 89 pc, won a place at one of their top three Camden schools –the highest figure in three years and up from 86 per cent last year.

But Camden still lagged behind other London boroughs ranking 28 of 33 councils based on the percentage of children who received a place at their first-choice school. Camden also fell below the London average of 80.74 per cent.

This year, for the first time, all parents in England received school place allocations on the same day and the countrywide picture showed a marked decline in the number of children who received a place at their preferred primary.

It is thought two extra classes of 30 children – at Hampstead Parochial School, Hampstead, and at Kingsgate Primary School, West Hampstead – have helped to meet the demand for places in Camden this year.

The borough has suffered a squeeze on primary school places in the last three years. Last July, 44 children in West Hampstead were without a school place three months after Camden Council made its allocations – prompting many to voice concern that there were not enough primary places to meet demand in the west of the borough.

This year Torriano Infant School, Kentish Town, was the most over subscribed school. The other schools in the top five by demand were Primrose Hill Primary, Primrose Hill; Eleanor Palmer School, Kentish Town; Emmanuel Church of England School, West Hampstead, and Fitzjohn’s School, Hampstead.

Andrew Baisley, secretary of Camden National Union of Teachers (NUT), said: “There’s an awful lot of very good schools to choose from in Camden, more than in other boroughs.

“Part of the issue is that you get a massive level of oversubscription because, of course, if you live anywhere near Eleanor Palmer, the chances are you will want to send your children there.”

The opening of two free schools in Camden since 2011 may have also eased the struggle for spaces as both reported high demand for places.

Vicki Briody, headteacher of Abacus Belsize, Haverstock Hill, Belsize Park, which opened in September last year, said: “I believe the opening of Abacus last year ensured some children who were not offered a place at any local Camden school had a school to attend from the beginning of September 2013.

“This year we have had 140 applicants for our 30 places, 57 of those are in the local Belsize Park area. It’s a great achievement for the school to be oversubscribed in its second year of opening and it is a testament to the hard work of the staff and governing body.”

St Luke’s Church of England School, Hampstead, which opened in September 2011, was last week named by the Department for Education as one of the most oversubscribed schools in the UK, having received 103 applications for its 15 reception places in September 2013.

In all 2,313 applications for school places were made to Camden Council, up from 2,216 last year.

In Barnet just over 80pc of children received a place at their first choice school and 92pc at one of their top three preferences. Eight children were left without a school place for September.

A spokesman from Camden Council said that the number of children without a place will change daily as parents continue to accept and reject offers.

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