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Schools decision will be warmly welcomed by parents

PUBLISHED: 16:07 04 February 2010 | UPDATED: 16:44 07 September 2010

SCORES of parents will breathe a sigh of relief this week as a possible solution to the school places crisis looms into view. Camden Council is just weeks away from announcing a location for a new school in the north west of the borough, promising an end

SCORES of parents will breathe a sigh of relief this week as a possible solution to the school places crisis looms into view. Camden Council is just weeks away from announcing a location for a new school in the north west of the borough, promising an end to the misery of parents faced with trying to get their offspring into a primary in Belsize Park - a 'black hole' in terms of school places.

Until now a lack of state primary schools in the area has forced dozens of parents to accept places for their children at schools miles away. The problem has been exacerbated by a baby boom and the likelihood that fewer parents are able to send their children to private schools in the recession.

Although barely any details have been revealed, it is hoped that along with an extra classroom at St Paul's Primary, a new school will create places for up to 60 children in the reception year group and end the school places drought.

Credit must go to the efforts of devoted parents like Rachel Guan, who confronted Education Secretary Ed Balls about the situation when he visited Camden last month. With her mother Linda Grove and her five-month-old son Sebastian she cornered Mr Balls (entirely politely) and persuaded him to have a private chat with her about the possibility of a new school and her fears for her son's education.

Mr Balls listened and promised to send a letter immediately to the head of children's services at Camden. What was contained in the letter we can only guess but somehow it now appears that Mrs Guan's prayers have been answered.

In September the temporary education centre in Courthope Road was set up to cope with children who have not been awarded a school place elsewhere and by most accounts it has done a very decent job. But it cannot have been easy for parents to send their children to a centre which has no firm future and is by its own definition not a school as such.

Let us hope that the new school, if and when it does emerge, can help solve the long-standing problems posed to parents and that their children will once again be able to go to a school they can walk or cycle to, instead of having to jump in their parents' car or take the bus.


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