SCHOOL PLACES PROBLEM MUST BE ADDRESSED

Liberal Democrat councillors are calling on Haringey’s education authority to urgently address the issue of primary school places in the Muswell Hill area as they continue to try to uncover the extent of the problem in the west of the borough.

Harnigey Council has now confirmed to the Lib Dems that 35 children in the area failed to get their first, second or third choices for primary school for this September – the equivalent of more than one reception class.

The problem came to a head last week at a meeting with aggrieved parents and local councillors. Liberal Democrat and Muswell Hill Councillor Lynne Featherstone is concerned that Haringey Council and LEA have failed to prepare themselves adequately for the baby boom of 2000. The result is that many residents living in the wards that make up the Muswell Hill area will have to drive their children to and from schools outside the immediate area, such as Bounds Green.

The Lib Dems are now calling for Haringey Council to take urgent action to relieve the situation.

Cllr Featherstone comments:

“The west of the borough has had a problem for many years with a shortage of school places. It has not been addressed and no plans were made in advance to cater for the baby boom we saw in 2000. Haringey Council has only just started to address the problem that means that serious improvements are at least three years away.

“This is totally unacceptable and we are insisting that a temporary classroom is provided at one of the local schools as a stop gap, so parents and children can be accommodated whilst Haringey sorts out the mess they have got themselves into, because of a lack of forward planning.”

Muswell Hill Councillor Gail Engert shares her colleagues concerns. She fears that the current situation could be exacerbated by new housing developments, increasing the number of family homes in the area. Although acknowledging the need for more homes in London she is concerned that Haringey is not matching the increase in homes with an increase in school places.

Cllr Engert comments:

“Haringey’s lack of foresight is likely to compound this already desperate situation. Demand for housing is huge in this area, however it must be matched by extra provision of services, and this includes increasing the number of school places.”