Today a group of parents are protesting outside the Shelley site, asking that Lambeth Council expands Archbishop Sumner School onto the site. This is councillors' response:
Lambeth councillors understand the frustration of parents who missed out on securing a place for their child in their first choice primary school today. Unfortunately, the system always results in disappointment for some, as the most oversubscribed schools will never have enough places for everybody who wants one.
Lambeth’s priorities are to ensure we have enough places in our schools to ensure every child is offered a place, and to ensure every school is reaching the highest possible standard.
Archbishop Sumner, like many other schools in Lambeth, is oversubscribed because of its outstanding Ofsted results. However, other good primary schools in North Lambeth are not oversubscribed and have places to offer.
This is in stark contrast to the south of the borough, where an explosion in pupil numbers in Norwood and Streatham has put huge pressure on primary school places. To meet this demand Lambeth is building a new school, expanding existing schools, and providing temporary ‘bulge’ classes where necessary – adding an extra eight forms of entry this September alone (240 places). Even despite this investment, there are many children who will be forced to travel a great distance to attend primary school. By contrast, overall demand for places in North Lambeth is again lower than supply, as it has been for several years.
Lambeth obviously has to prioritise its scarce resources to ensure that every child in Lambeth is offered a place at primary school. Whilst we are sympathetic to the wishes of parents in Kennington who would like to expand Archbishop Sumner, the council cannot justify diverting our very limited resources on creating new primary places in an area where there is spare capacity. We are struggling to fund the expansion of places in the south of the borough as it is, and it would be wrong to divert funding away from this priority.
In order to fund the expansion of schools in the south of the borough, we have to sell assets which are surplus to immediate requirements. The Department of Education asked Lambeth to sell the site in 2006, as part of the agreement to provide funding towards the new Michael Tippett school, but it has since been used for the Olive School until July 2010. As there is no projected demand for an educational use for the Shelley site, it is right that we sell the site to raise vital funds to ensure every child in Lambeth can have a primary school place.
Our priority in Kennington is to work to ensure every school reaches the outstanding level that Archbishop Sumner has. Lambeth Council does not tolerate underachievement in our schools, and works hard to drive up standards. Recent Ofsted inspections of schools in North Lambeth show that all the schools in the area are at least satisfactory with good or outstanding prospects for improvement. Today all children in Kennington have been allocated a place in a successful local school within walking distance of their home.
Cllr Pete Robbins
Cabinet Member for Children & Young People
Cllr Lorna Campbell, Cllr Mark Harrison, Cllr Steve Morgan
Councillors for Prince’s ward
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