- Lutfur Rahman, Mayor of Tower Hamlets
- United Kingdom
You Live TOO Close to Get into Your Local School.
The Olympic Legacy has forced children to lose local school places as Tower Hamlets Council hides its failure to plan for the educational needs of children in the borough.
Every parent awaits news of schools admission with trepidation but many parents this year have been more shocked and bewildered than they could ever have anticipated.
Many families living in Tower Hamlets were appalled to learn that children living on streets adjacent to their local schools, and in several cases on the very same street, have been refused a place at their local community school.
Heads and other teachers were also stunned, particularly in Chisenhale Community Primary School (Chisenhale Road, Bow, London E3) when they were told they would be losing a significant number of pupils currently in their nursery school who live in close proximity to Chisenhale because those places had been allocated to children living ten times further away.
Further investigations from parents have brought to light a change in primary schools’ admissions policies adopted by Tower Hamlets although the local authority failed to make clear that the policy had changed, what it had changed to or how those changes would affect families, school and communities.
The reason for the policy change is Tower Hamlets’ failure to build schools to serve new housing constructed as part of the Olympic development boom. Head of Pupil Admissions in Tower Hamlets, Terry Bryan admits: “The situation is mainly due to the new residential developments on Fish Island and the fact that there is not yet a school in that area.”
This new policy, spun as an ‘Equal Chance System for Tower Hamlets Children and Families,’ threatens to undermine East End communities, children’s health and education. In the case of Chisenhale, children in nursery are taught jointly with the reception class. Removing these children disrupts their education, undermines school class cohesion and early learning relationships with teachers and other pupils. Instead they and other children living on adjacent streets to the school have been offered school places much further away and in some cases offered no school place at all.
Perversely, the leaflet distributed by the Council attempting to justify all this, states that these policies will improve “the chances of a child gaining admission to a local school.” The reality is that many of those now given or deprived of places will have long, tiring, polluted and unsafe journeys, passing by schools closer to them, and they and their families will have little opportunity to contribute to the community which has been the life blood of the school.
If this policy is not reversed quickly it will not just have detrimental consequences for the children of this part of East London, it could also be rolled out across other parts of the UK where there's a shortage of school places.
We want the children in the nursery school at Chisenhale to be admitted to the reception class.