No school place despite family living in West Hampstead street for a century

A mother whose family has lived in the same West Hampstead street for a century has been left devastated after her daughter was refused a school place in the area.

Kate Gosling, of Cranfield Gardens, has applied to 12 primary schools in the search for a reception place for her four-year-old daughter, Isabel.

Mrs Gosling, 33, had hoped her daughter would get into Holy Trinity CofE Primary School in Hampstead, which she attended three decades before, but mounting pressure on places meant there was no space.

“I just hadn’t prepared myself for the disappointment,” said Ms Gosling.

“She has cottoned onto the fact that a lot of her friends are going to reception next year. She is the only one who is going to be left behind.

“She just looked up at me one day and said ‘I’m not going to school am I?’ I didn’t have an answer, that is just horrible.”

The mother-of-one, who works one day a week at the Wellcome Collection in Euston Road, said she has watched many other parents take their children to Sunday school in a bid to win them a spot at a church school.

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But she and her husband Simon, a freelance prop maker, did not feel this was appropriate.

“A lot of other parents have gone to Sunday schools and that might be good for community relations and the church, but we didn’t feel that we should start doing something we wouldn’t be otherwise,” she said. “Why should we?

“I feel sorry for those parents who feel they have to do this. Why should parents feel they have to cheat the system for a place?”

As the Ham&High went to press, Isabel had been offered a place at Carlton Primary School, which is four miles away in Kentish Town.

But Mrs Gosling said this was simply too far to travel daily with a small child.

If no suitable reception place can be found, Isabel will spend the next the next year at Kilburn Grange nursery and begin primary school next September having missed out on reception.

Branding the council’s schools department “overstretched”, Mrs Gosling said she was not given the advice and support she needed to navigate the system.

Kilburn councillor Mike Katz, who has been campaigning for a new primary school to serve West Hampstead and the surrounding area, said: “After two bulge classes have been filled, there are still more than 40 children living west of the Finchley Road without a school place for September. These figures show undeniably the need.”

Cllr Angela Mason, Camden children’s chief, said the council would make a decision on whether to build a new school in Liddell Road, West Hampstead, later this month.

She added: “Ms Gosling has recently been offered a school place for her daughter to start school in September 2012. While this is not at one of her preferred schools, she is on the waiting lists for those schools, so may yet be offered a place.”