May 21 2013 Latest news:
Else Kvist, Reporter
Thursday, September 13, 2012
The Labour opposition in Tower Hamlets have slammed the council after figures revealed that over 1,000 children were denied their first choice of school.
It came as Labour councillors are calling on Tower Hamlets Mayor, Lutfur Rahman, to secure school places over the coming decade, when a 38 per cent increase in the number of school aged pupils are expected.
Government rules dictate councils must fund travel for pupils placed over two miles from their home. Last Year Tower Hamlets Council estimated it would spend over £1.2million on home-school travel between 2012 to 13, according to the Labour opposition.
Labour’s Children’s Services spokesperson, Cllr Bill Turner, said: “It cannot be right that over 1,000 school children were denied their first choice school this year.
“With many pupils forced to travel halfway across the borough just to get to school the Mayor must look at ways to improve local school provision. School isn’t just where young people go for education, it is where their friendship groups develop, and their sports and hobbies take place.
“With the borough estimated to spend over a million pounds on home-school travel this year surely now is the time to face up to the school places shortfall.”
Figures obtained from a council members enquiry showed that 1,090 pupils in Tower Hamlets failed to secure their first choice of school.
Mayor Lutfur Rahman said: “With 86 per cent of Tower Hamlets families securing their first choice of primary school we have, in fact, the highest percentage preference success rate of any London borough.
“We are also within the top quartile of London boroughs offering families their first choice of secondary school. We are addressing additional school places and I’m confident future needs will be met.”
A council spokeswoman said the need to provide additional school places is not an issue unique to Tower Hamlets and they the council is currently expanding a number of schools to secure additional places.