Pressure Builds On Local School Places

600 extra needed in Wandsworth within five years

More than 600 extra children per year will need a school place in Wandsworth within five years.

Latest figures from the Greater London Authority (GLA) predict that the dramatic rise in birth rates seen across London will continue to be particularly acute in the borough, resulting in a rise in places needed from the 2,761 currently available to 3,395 in 2016.

It means nine new classes per year will be needed by next year rising to 22 more classes by 2016.

All councils have a legal duty to make sure there are enough places for local children, but the council's education spokesman is warning that a campaign to prevent the use of the former hospital site on Putney Common is working against the interests of future generations of children.

Without it one in four children in Thamesfield ward alone could be without a school place.

"The prospect of hundreds of children with no place cannot become a reality and that's why we have put every penny we can into funding more school places," says Cllr Kathy Tracey, cabinet member for children's services.

"But the problem is not just funding the building works. Potential sites for new schools are in extremely short supply in inner city boroughs like ours and the proposed new school on the site of the former Putney hospital is desperately needed."

The council already has school expansion plans in place to meet some of the rising demand. An extra £7.6m is currently being spent on providing 30 places each at Smallwood, Hillbrook, Swaffield, Shaftesbury Park, West Hill, Riversdale, Southmead and Granard schools.

In addition, the Government has agreed to fund three new local free schools. Tooting Primary in Franciscan Road and Rutherford House School on the Balham Youth Court site are both due to open in September 2013 providing 60 places each per year. The South London Jewish Free School also has Government approval to open in 2013 but has yet to find a site.

However, even with these extra places, Cllr Tracey is concerned that there is still acute pressure in Putney, which is why she says the proposed primary academy on the former hospital site is so important for local families.

September 10 , 2012