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Primary school place shortage in Epsom & Ewell

February 6, 2008 9:49 AM
School children

Epsom & Ewell is running short of places at its primary schools

The number of children hoping to start at primary schools in Epsom & Ewell next September appears to exceed the total number of places available in the borough. Figures quoted at a recent meeting of Surrey County Council indicate that although there is a small surplus of 30 secondary school places, there is a shortfall of 11 for entry to reception classes at age 4+.

"Some reduction may occur when account is taken of children going to private schools or to state schools across the borough boundary into Kingston, Sutton, Mole Valley or Reigate & Banstead. Nevertheless, the trend is worrying", said County Councillor Colin Taylor. "Normally there should be at least some places to spare, to allow flexibility when families move home etc."

"Actually the situation is much worse than the overall figures show", he added, "because two of the schools with spare places are too far away from the new housing estates where additional primary school places are needed, and where hundreds more new houses are expected to be built over the next few years on the western side of Epsom."

Last year a number of families living at Clarendon Park in particular, as well as some at Manor Park, were disappointed not to get into the nearby Southfield Park primary school because the newer homes at Livingstone Park are even closer. SCC have modified their selection procedure for this year, based on measuring distances "as the crow flies" rather than by road or footpath, which is expected to favour Manor Park over Clarendon Park.

Work has already started on further homes at Livingstone Park and planning applications are expected to be decided this year for further sites at St Ebba's and West Park, with a further large development now mooted elsewhere in the borough.

Cllr Taylor drew attention to this issue when SCC's budget was discussed yesterday. The Conservative-controlled Executive have decided not to allocate any money for new or extended schools in 2008-2009. Colin pointed out that if this approach continues it will create serious problems for parents living on the western side of Epsom & Ewell.