School Days Prove Unhappy For Some

As parents call on council to deal with the 'lack of primary school places in Chiswick'

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Hounslow Council are launching a consultation process with primary schools and their priority admissions areas after a number of Chiswick children were unable to secure a place at a local school.

As was the case in 2006, some children living in the catchment area of a Chiswick primary school were not offered places with Belmont again being the worst affected. Some families were offered places at alternative schools in Brentford, whilst others unwillingly opted out of the state system and accepted places at private schools.

One family who lives in Belmont's priority admissions area said "We ended up being 10th on the waiting list, getting no school place in Chiswick at all and instead being offered a place at Green Dragon in Brentford. According to the TfL website this is a public transport journey of one hour and 8 mins each way for a four year old."

When they complained the Hounslow’s Education Department they were told that they were "only obliged to give you a place in the borough and even if that were in Feltham we have done what we need too."

Other parents expressed the view that there are simply not enough primary school places in Chiswick and believe that the council relies "on parents sending their children private instead of trying to address changing demographics".

Another family who were denied a place at their catchment area school were eventually offered a place at Strand on the Green school after numerous calls the Education Department. They told ChiswickW4 "Our child was not offered a place at any of three schools we applied to, Belmont - catchment area school, Cavendish or Grove Park. We do have a place at Strand on the Green and we are happy with this apart from the distance from our house to the school which means that instead of walking to school we will need to go by car in the morning."

They wrote to Leader of Hounslow Council Peter Thomson who responded “The Council is checking how many pupils in the Chiswick area are in fact without a school place. We anticipate that it will not be anything like 25 but we will assess when pupils have started at school what the situation is. It is our experience that vacancies can emerge when term begins where families have moved away or have made other arrangements that have not become known to the admissions section. However, if there is an issue on the scale that is suggested, we will certainly consider whether urgent action needs to be taken.

“I recognise that there is an issue about the number of pupils in the Belmont catchment area, and we propose to review the boundaries of catchment areas in Chiswick and in some other areas of the borough during this year.

“As a parent and a teacher myself, I strongly believe that a good education is one of the cornerstones of a strong society. It has the potential to be the ladder of opportunity, which allows everyone to reach their full potential. We both know the difficulties in London in ensuring that our children have a good state education. However, Hounslow Council will do all that we can to promote choice, diversity and fair access to schools.”

A spokesperson for Hounslow Council said "We are currently consulting all schools about the admissions areas, and Belmont would be taking part in this. The report will probably be going to Executive in December with the usual annual admissions data, setting out dates for future academic year etc."

September 13, 2007