Brent: 200 children without school places
MORE than 200 children have not been given a school place as most return to classrooms this week, the council has confirmed. While all five-year-olds are back at school, 214 four-year-olds are still waiting for places. In July, the coalition Government sc
MORE than 200 children have not been given a school place as most return to classrooms this week, the council has confirmed.
While all five-year-olds are back at school, 214 four-year-olds are still waiting for places.
In July, the coalition Government scrapped the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) scheme, slashing �80 million from school projects at Copland Community School, Cardinal Hinsley - now called Newman Catholic College, Queen's Park Community School and Alperton Community School, with a further �220m for a second wave of building under review.
Education Minister and Brent Central MP, Sarah Teather said: "We have a massive problem in Brent with school places.
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"it's a problem that's common across London and it's going to get worse because it's particularly acute in the primary sector, and of course, as children move through the system, we've got this bulge of children without adequate school places.
"To be honest, that's one of the reasons that BSF needed reforming so drastically and so urgently because the system for building new schools didn't cater for the fact that numbers of children in some areas is going up.
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"You've got a system that will rebuild schools in a very expensive way, but is not catering for the fact that in some areas we have an absolutely desperate shortage of school places.
"At a time when we have got less money, you've got to be able to build schools more cheaply and you have got to be able to prioritise areas that are in urgent need of more schools.
"Brent's one of those areas."
Of the 214 four-year-olds for whom a reception class place is currently not identified, there are 33 vacancies in schools, giving a net shortfall of 181.
The council said families with young children move during the summer holidays, giving it the opportunity to fill children's places from the waiting list.
There are some children who will be five in the autumn term for whom places should be provided in January.
But two reception classes of four and five-year-olds will be taught in temporary, pre-fabricated buildings in the grounds of Preston Manor Secondary School in Carlton Avenue East, Wembley.
It is council policy to start children in the education system at the age of four.
A spokesman added: "The situation is therefore fluid and, as in previous years, we remain hopeful of giving every child needing a place a start this autumn.
"We have already added 135 places for this September, in a mixture of temporary and permanent accommodation. This has been achieved by reorganising internal space in schools, and by providing high quality temporary accommodation.
"We will open temporary accommodation in a project in January 2011 for 60 pupils, and will look at offering places to children in children's centres if necessary."
Read our exclusive interview with education minister, Sarah Teather on page 3 and our schools six page special from page 2.