Pressure mounts as Haringey education chiefs call meeting
|Schools campaigner Liz Crane has been invited to meet Haringey education chiefs as pressure mounts for more places in Muswell Hill primary schools.
Liz, whose daughter Sophie, three, was rejected from three oversubscribed schools within half a mile of her home and offered a place at Bounds Green school instead, which is more than a mile away, received the invitation to discuss the crisis after lobbying the council on behalf of dozens of angry parents whose children are also being denied a place in their local school.
At a packed meeting last Wednesday (April 21), Barbara Roche, the local Labour MP, pledged her support for the campaign, declaring: "I will support you as much as I can. We have had these problems locally before, but I actually believe that the problem this year is one of the worst that I have seen. I have been arguing for some time now that we need new primary schools and at least one more secondary school in the area." Mrs Crane is campaigning for an extra class to be provided at one of the Muswell Hill schools in time for the new intake in September.
Ms Roche told the meeting that a precedent had been set when Haringey had provided an extra class at Rokesley School in Crouch End some years ago after Crouch End schools were massively oversubscribed.
The MP added: "We need to look at all the possibilities and that must include an extra class. I have written to Haringey so it should be on the agenda already...If we look at how attractive this area is to families with young children, it is not a problem that's going to decrease."
Gail Engert, the Liberal Democrat ward councillor for Muswell Hill, who was also at the meeting, along with the Alexandra ward Lib-Dem councillor David Beacham, insisted: "There is a lack of forward planning at Haringey. Statistics are available that show the local birth rate is higher than average, so they should be providing more primary school places, but with Haringey it's a panic, knee-jerk reaction when things get too bad."
Mrs Crane, whose campaign meeting was attended by 24 parents, welcomed the invitation from Haringey to discuss the issue: "The campaign is attracting more and more parents who feel passionate that their children should be able to walk to school and be educated within their own communities. It's ridiculous to have to drive four and five year olds to schools on the other side of the borough, clogging up the roads and denying them the chance to integrate locally. The meeting with the education department is a major breakthrough. I feel that it is a positive thing that we have achieved one of our aims - to get the council to listen."
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