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Muswell Hill mother leads campaign for more places at local primary schools
A Muswell Hill mother is leading a campaign to force Haringey Council to provide more places at local primary schools this September after her daughter was rejected from three schools within walking distance of her home.

Liz Crane's daughter Sophie, three, will be forced to travel over a mile from her house in Colney Hatch Lane to Bounds Green School in Hornsey when she starts school in the autumn due to local schools being oversubscribed.

Mrs Crane, a registered childminder, who was turned down for Muswell Hill School, Coldfall School and Rhodes Avenue School despite living less than half a mile from all three, organised a meeting attended by a eleven angry parents on Friday to discuss strategy for the new campaign. She said: "There are dozens of children in Muswell Hill who have been denied a place at a local school because there just aren't enough places to meet the demand. This will deny them the chance of mixing with other children from their local community and add to the congestion on the roads as they will all have to be driven across the borough to schools like Campsbourne and Bounds Green."

Large housing developments such as Osier Crescent and excellent league table positions had brought dozens of new families to the borough, yet no extra provision had been made in local schools, she added. Plans by Haringey to create a two-form entry at Tetherdown School in 2006 are too little, too late, she insisted.

Mrs Crane is hoping to force Haringey to provide a Portakabin and a teacher at a local school so that an extra class can be accommodated. She said: "Most of the schools have large grounds which could easily accommodate an extra class."

She added: "The government is campaigning to encourage children to take more exercise by walking to school, but how can parents comply when they are turned away from local schools. Sophie will have to be driven to school. It's 1.1 miles as the crow flies and just too far to walk for her. I may have to stop childminding because there is no way that I can transport lots of pre-school children across the borough when I am dropping her off and picking her up, so even more parents will suffer as a result."

Another angry mother, Linda Chauhan, whose daughter Talitha, four, was refused a place at Coldfall, despite having attended the school's nursery and living only a third of a mile away, said: "I was looking forward to continuing to take Talitha to Coldfall where she had settled into the nursery and which is only a few minutes walk away. I will now have to drive across the borough to Campsbourne. It just does not make sense."

Haringey allocates school places by giving priority to siblings, children with special needs and those living nearest to the school. Letters were sent out to parents two weeks ago, allocating places. Most schools in Muswell Hill now have a catchment area of less than a quarter of a mile. Those who fail to get in are given places at less popular schools in other parts of the borough. The Council is now bracing itself for a record number of appeals.

Mrs Crane has asked her ward councillor Lynne Featherstone and MP Barbara Roche to help out. Ms Featherstone has written to the director of education, Sharon Shoesmith, asking how many children have failed to get a place at a local school within walking distance. Ms Roche has also written to the director about her case.

The campaign group, named Muswell Hill Schools Crisis, will meet again on Wednesday April 21st at 8pm at the Methodist Church in Pages Lane, N10.

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MHSCG – Parents fighting for places in Muswell Hill primary schools