Children left with no school to go as school place crisis bites

The Hills family

The Hills family

First published in News This Is Local London: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Reporter

Children have been left without a place at a primary school as the borough's education crisis begins to bite.

Sutton is facing unprecedented pressure on places in schools and for the first time six children hoping to start primary school in September have been left without a place.

Those families now face an anxious wait to see if they will be placed at 16 vacant spaces currently at Sutton primaries liley to be a considerable distance from their homes.

They may head into private education to free up a spot in a school near them or face the prospect of paying to go private or even taking on home schooling.

All parents of children due to start primary school in the autumn were asked to make six choices ranked in order of preference before Sutton Council allocated places while working with neighbouring councils where appropriate.

Children's primary school places were revealed last week and while 84 per cent of pupils got their first choice - one of the highest rates in London - 98 children were given a place at a school their parents did not rank in their top six choices and six children were not given an offer at all.

A population boom means councils across the country have been placed under pressure for school places.

This is particularly acute in Sutton due to a number of factors, including a large influx of people moving to the borough because of its good schools. Bandon Hill, The Avenue, Amy Johnson and St Mary's primary schools have all been expanded in the last 12 months with temporary 'bulge' classes added elsewhere - but more work will need to be done with forecasts predicting a 3,000 place shortfall at the borough's primary schools by 2016.

Sue Smith, of the Sutton Teachers' Committee, said: "We know it isn't just a Sutton issue but a national issue but I believe Sutton Council has been working very hard to work with schools and provide the places needed.

"In a way Sutton's success has also been it's downfall in this respect in that it has very good schools and it's slightly cheaper to live in than central London.

"The council's officers have been working very hard, some schools have already expanded and there is a plan to build a new school."

Among those not to get a school place was young Cheam boy Hector Hill. His parents Kate and David chose for him to go to Cuddington Croft in Surrey as it is one of their nearest schools and was the only school that claimed it could cater for his severe sesame allergy by being entirely nut and seed free.

Although Cuddington Croft is in Surrey, Mr and Mrs Hills live in Sutton meaning Sutton Council oversaw the process and worked with Surrey Council.

However, when Mrs Hill went online on offer day to find out which school Hector would be going to she was confronted with a blank page.

She said: "It didn't say 'you've not been offered a place' or anything like that, it was just blank.
"The hope is that enough people will move out of the area or go for private education instead. We can't home school him.

"We chose Cuddington Croft as its prospectus said it is sesame free but then we were told that was misleading and no school could promise that.

"[Surrey Council] actually said the school would have to change its policy rather than offer us a place there."

A Surrey Council spokesman said: "We do expect schools to do everything possible to minimise the risks of allergens and to have staff trained in understanding each child’s problem so they can recognise a reaction and deal with it, such as with an epipen.

"We expect any mainstream school therefore to be able to meet Hector’s needs and so cannot consider his allergy as a reason to give him exceptional priority to this school."

A Sutton Council spokesman said: "Last year, we received 2590 applications and this year we have received 2642. We currently have 16 vacancies. 

"We have provided an additional two classes for September 2014 to provide for migration to the borough.

"As can be seen by the vacancies, we will be able to allocate the unplaced children but we are hoping to provide schools nearer to their home address than currently.  We are liaising with other authorities to determine their vacancies as often in these cases, Sutton residents live nearer to schools in other authorities.

"Parents can appeal and all processes are on the website. Some children may have been allocated places if parents had chosen to select schools nearer to their home address.

"However, Sutton has an obligation to provide a school place for each resident child in Sutton and we will meet this requirement."

Comments (11)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

10:00am Sat 26 Apr 14

theavengers says...

eu
eu theavengers
  • Score: 4

12:19pm Sat 26 Apr 14

Michael Pantlin says...

Two men charged with prison mutiny at High Down:

Avast mutiny, Jim Lad! The blaggards should be walking he plank for this treachery.
Two men charged with prison mutiny at High Down: Avast mutiny, Jim Lad! The blaggards should be walking he plank for this treachery. Michael Pantlin
  • Score: -8

8:34am Sun 27 Apr 14

Monstermunch17 says...

2,600 applications.
6 children with no place yet.

Sutton Council re-stating they will meet their requirement, and offer every child a place.

Absolutely nothing to this story. Seems there is no intention to accurately report the situation, in fact the only thing this story could possibly achieve is to frighten people unnecessarily, and/or stir up racial tensions among our less cerebral residents, as we have seen.

Pretty despicable on the part of this newspaper group.
2,600 applications. 6 children with no place yet. Sutton Council re-stating they will meet their requirement, and offer every child a place. Absolutely nothing to this story. Seems there is no intention to accurately report the situation, in fact the only thing this story could possibly achieve is to frighten people unnecessarily, and/or stir up racial tensions among our less cerebral residents, as we have seen. Pretty despicable on the part of this newspaper group. Monstermunch17
  • Score: -4

9:58am Sun 27 Apr 14

LiberalsOut says...

Monstermunch17 wrote:
2,600 applications.
6 children with no place yet.

Sutton Council re-stating they will meet their requirement, and offer every child a place.

Absolutely nothing to this story. Seems there is no intention to accurately report the situation, in fact the only thing this story could possibly achieve is to frighten people unnecessarily, and/or stir up racial tensions among our less cerebral residents, as we have seen.

Pretty despicable on the part of this newspaper group.
The real problem for Suttons schools will come in 2016\2017 when the numbers appyling for places is will far exceed the numbers this year
This is why Sutton schools have applied for planning permission to extend classroom capacity
It is not racist to highlight a problem and you should perhaps look at why there are inceased numbers requiring school places, when the birth rate for British born people is going down
Maybe you should read around the story and exercise your cerebrum before being rude about people who have legitimate concerns
[quote][p][bold]Monstermunch17[/bold] wrote: 2,600 applications. 6 children with no place yet. Sutton Council re-stating they will meet their requirement, and offer every child a place. Absolutely nothing to this story. Seems there is no intention to accurately report the situation, in fact the only thing this story could possibly achieve is to frighten people unnecessarily, and/or stir up racial tensions among our less cerebral residents, as we have seen. Pretty despicable on the part of this newspaper group.[/p][/quote]The real problem for Suttons schools will come in 2016\2017 when the numbers appyling for places is will far exceed the numbers this year This is why Sutton schools have applied for planning permission to extend classroom capacity It is not racist to highlight a problem and you should perhaps look at why there are inceased numbers requiring school places, when the birth rate for British born people is going down Maybe you should read around the story and exercise your cerebrum before being rude about people who have legitimate concerns LiberalsOut
  • Score: 9

11:48am Sun 27 Apr 14

GreenBrown says...

Apart from the bigger picture which is mass immigration and the OBVIOUS effects that it is having across this country, the other major contributing factor in this is the shear number of flats and houses that have gone up over the last decade. Sutton council have been and are still allowing thousands of new homes to be built and have done very little to provide the necessary infrastructure needed for such population growth. Most of the problems this borough face are due to gross mismanagement by our LIB DEM council. The question that needs to be asked and answered is, for who's benefit is this population explosion in Sutton? Not the residents already here that's for sure. I'd make a bet that a lot of these parents have voted or will be voting for the main three parties, so you get what you deserve.
Apart from the bigger picture which is mass immigration and the OBVIOUS effects that it is having across this country, the other major contributing factor in this is the shear number of flats and houses that have gone up over the last decade. Sutton council have been and are still allowing thousands of new homes to be built and have done very little to provide the necessary infrastructure needed for such population growth. Most of the problems this borough face are due to gross mismanagement by our LIB DEM council. The question that needs to be asked and answered is, for who's benefit is this population explosion in Sutton? Not the residents already here that's for sure. I'd make a bet that a lot of these parents have voted or will be voting for the main three parties, so you get what you deserve. GreenBrown
  • Score: -1

7:40pm Sun 27 Apr 14

Monstermunch17 says...

The birth rate on indigenous population has been declining for years, and we are all living longer. If it wasn't for the migrant population, we would be facing ruin. Extending local primary schools to make room, is the least we can do...

...but the council knows this, and is doing precisely that. So I repeat, the only purpose of this story is to stir up panic and then racial tension, amongst our more gullible residents, as we continue to see on these comment pages.
The birth rate on indigenous population has been declining for years, and we are all living longer. If it wasn't for the migrant population, we would be facing ruin. Extending local primary schools to make room, is the least we can do... ...but the council knows this, and is doing precisely that. So I repeat, the only purpose of this story is to stir up panic and then racial tension, amongst our more gullible residents, as we continue to see on these comment pages. Monstermunch17
  • Score: 4

9:59pm Sun 27 Apr 14

GreenBrown says...

Monstermunch17..you are deluded. I wonder how you brainwashed liberals are going to cope when this country gets back to being normal again.
Monstermunch17..you are deluded. I wonder how you brainwashed liberals are going to cope when this country gets back to being normal again. GreenBrown
  • Score: -3

10:36am Mon 28 Apr 14

Juliet Poole says...

What this story highlights is the stress faced by any family in Sutton who does not live within a few hundred metres of a primary school. Clearly it's linked to the growth in the local population but the fact is the council needs to plan for this - no parent should have to put their child into a school too far from home that they are not happy with. Well done Kate for highlighting the issue. It might only be six children this year but it is an extremely tough situation for every one of those. Every one has the right to a good education.
What this story highlights is the stress faced by any family in Sutton who does not live within a few hundred metres of a primary school. Clearly it's linked to the growth in the local population but the fact is the council needs to plan for this - no parent should have to put their child into a school too far from home that they are not happy with. Well done Kate for highlighting the issue. It might only be six children this year but it is an extremely tough situation for every one of those. Every one has the right to a good education. Juliet Poole
  • Score: 7

2:34pm Mon 28 Apr 14

labyrinth says...

The real problem is at secondary level, with the absolutely scandalous situation of the majority of places at the borough's Magnet (i.e. erroneously called 'grammar' ) schools, going to pupils from far away from Sutton.
The real problem is at secondary level, with the absolutely scandalous situation of the majority of places at the borough's Magnet (i.e. erroneously called 'grammar' ) schools, going to pupils from far away from Sutton. labyrinth
  • Score: 6

5:27pm Mon 28 Apr 14

GreenBrown says...

labyrinth wrote:
The real problem is at secondary level, with the absolutely scandalous situation of the majority of places at the borough's Magnet (i.e. erroneously called 'grammar' ) schools, going to pupils from far away from Sutton.
You could be right. At kicking out time it looks like the majority of them come from the Subcontinent.
[quote][p][bold]labyrinth[/bold] wrote: The real problem is at secondary level, with the absolutely scandalous situation of the majority of places at the borough's Magnet (i.e. erroneously called 'grammar' ) schools, going to pupils from far away from Sutton.[/p][/quote]You could be right. At kicking out time it looks like the majority of them come from the Subcontinent. GreenBrown
  • Score: -2

12:44pm Tue 29 Apr 14

jonjo79 says...

There is a mixture of good and bad here – on one hand the outcomes for Sutton parents are favourable compared to the rest of London so some planning has been done to achieve this. Having been through the admissions process, it does not guarantee a local school offer from day 1 but in time for the school term – if this family still has no place in September then yes it would be newsworthy.

On the other hand, as GreenBrown says, far too many building projects are being agreed without the necessary support services being considered – we have Sutherland House, Sutton Point and the gasworks development all in central Sutton and none seem to have a new school being mentioned to provide for the hundreds of families who will then gain housing.

Please let us not regurgitate the old grammar school argument. Grammar schools are not just to serve Sutton residents but to all pupils of selective ability. Schools nor parents want or need a secondary modern system as this will destroy the rest of the schools.
The secondary schools have enough places to cater for residents or the above story would have been similarly reported when the secondary school offers were issued. Yes, time will tell if the Council is planning adequately for the future but we are at least hearing of a new secondary school being built. But it would be good to hear of a new primary school on the horizon in the centre of Sutton.
There is a mixture of good and bad here – on one hand the outcomes for Sutton parents are favourable compared to the rest of London so some planning has been done to achieve this. Having been through the admissions process, it does not guarantee a local school offer from day 1 but in time for the school term – if this family still has no place in September then yes it would be newsworthy. On the other hand, as GreenBrown says, far too many building projects are being agreed without the necessary support services being considered – we have Sutherland House, Sutton Point and the gasworks development all in central Sutton and none seem to have a new school being mentioned to provide for the hundreds of families who will then gain housing. Please let us not regurgitate the old grammar school argument. Grammar schools are not just to serve Sutton residents but to all pupils of selective ability. Schools nor parents want or need a secondary modern system as this will destroy the rest of the schools. The secondary schools have enough places to cater for residents or the above story would have been similarly reported when the secondary school offers were issued. Yes, time will tell if the Council is planning adequately for the future but we are at least hearing of a new secondary school being built. But it would be good to hear of a new primary school on the horizon in the centre of Sutton. jonjo79
  • Score: -1

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree