December 11 2013 Latest news:
by Tim Lamden
Friday, September 20, 2013
Figures obtained by the Ham&High show that 40 per cent of parents living in the NW6 postcode area who applied for a place at a Camden secondary school last year were not offered one.
The statistics, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, come as little surprise to NW6 parents who started a campaign earlier this year to set up a free school in West Hampstead to address a perceived “black hole” in secondary education in the area.
Camden Council officers insist the figures reveal that many NW6 parents – living in West Hampstead, Swiss Cottage, Fortune Green and Kilburn – opt to go to schools in other boroughs.
The figures also show that Hampstead School, in Westbere Road, Cricklewood – the nearest Camden school for many in the area – has places to accommodate the children.
But Dr Clare Craig, 37, co-founder of the NW6 free school campaign, said that “Hampstead School wasn’t right for every child”.
She said that NW6 parents who put out-of-borough schools or independent schools as a higher preference choice than Hampstead School were “doing what was best for their children”.
The mother-of-four, of Fortune Green Road, Fortune Green, said: “Hampstead School is a big school, there’s some boisterous behaviour and they lose a lot of pupils at sixth form.
“It’s the only Camden school available to us and it’s a school which has had its catchment area shrunk since 2011 and I expect that to continue, which will create a larger black hole.”
The figures show 192 parents living in NW6 applied for Camden school places for their children last year.
Of these, 115 received an offer of a place – 60 per cent of those who applied.
Of the 77 children from NW6 who were not offered a place at any of Camden’s school, 71 received offers from out-of-borough or independent schools and the remaining six had offers “withdrawn”.
Cllr Angela Mason, cabinet member for children, insists that every child from Fortune Green and West Hampstead who did not receive an offer at any Camden school last year could have been accommodated at Hampstead School.
She said the majority of children from Kilburn and Swiss Cottage could have been accommodated at one of the five non-denominational schools in the north of the borough, including UCL Academy in Swiss Cottage.
The figures also show that the opening of UCL Academy last year reduced the number of NW6 children not being offered a place at any Camden school by about 10 per cent.