Five Camden children have no school place as new term begins

Five unlucky children did not return to school with their friends this week as they are still waiting for a primary place three months after the start of the academic year.

The four and five-year-olds, who all live in north west Camden, have missed out on several months of lessons, sparking fears they are falling behind their former nursery classmates.

Following mounting pressure from parents for their children to be given a place at a nearby school, Camden Council this week announced all five will be given a spot at a primary within two miles of their home.

Sophie Crowther, was not given a place at either of her two closest schools, Beckford and Kingsgate, but has now been offered a place in neighbouring Westminster - at Wilberforce Primary, in Queen’s Park.

Her mother, Emma Knowles, said the place was “not ideal” as it was outside Camden borough.

“I had never heard of the school before and it is not one that I have considered sending my daughter to,” she said.

“I am pleased she has been offered a place but it does create problems because her childminder is in Camden. She does the school run with a lot of children who go to Camden schools, and I’m not sure she’ll be able to take Sophie all the way to Queen’s Park.”

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The single mum, who works in the canteen at University College London, said she applied for a place before the deadline, and was shocked when she had not heard back at the same time as other parents.

But when she contacted Camden Council, they said they had no record of her application and Ms Knowles had to reapply.

Initially, the only place Sophie was offered was three miles away at Carlton Primary School in Kentish Town, which Ms Knowles said was simply too faraway to accept.

Kilburn Cllr Mike Katz, who has launched a petition signed by hundreds of people calling for a new school in the West Hampstead area, said: “This illustrates the need for long term planning for a new primary school.

“It is educationally disruptive for the children and causes huge concern and stress for parents.”

A Camden Council spokesman said: “In 2011 an unprecedented number of people applied for primary school places in Camden and additional applications have been received since the start of the autumn term.

“We can confirm that all five will today receive an offer of a primary school place within two miles of their home.”