St Margarets and East Twickenham 4 year olds face shortage of school places

Four-year-old children from St Margarets and East Twickenham could face a shortage of school places next September, after the Conservative Council has halved the previous Liberal Democrat plans for school expansion in the area.

At the recent Council meeting, following questions put down by Liberal Democrat councilors, it was announced that plans to provide more primary school places in the area had been halved, because of the Council’s unwillingness to provide funds. 50% of the planned extra places are to be put on hold until and unless the Government funds them.

The previous Lib Dem council had consulted parents on plans to provide an extra 60 places a year (420 across all years) at St Mary’s Primary, Orleans Infants and the new St John’s site. These plans have now been scaled back to provide just 30 extra places a year (210 across all years) at St Mary’s, with no expansion of Orleans Infants. Delays in making progress means that even this expansion will now not be available until September 2012.

Councillor Malcolm Eady, Liberal Democrat education spokesperson, said:

“These delays could result in parents not being able to get their children into a local school next September. Last February we announced we were purchasing part of the Amyand Road site, and we wrote to local parents informing them of two possible options, resulting in either 14 or 15 extra primary classrooms, spread over three schools, one of which would have been a new school.”

“Work would have began after the election on expanding Orleans infants, providing an extra reception class from 2011 onwards, and on a new school, which would have taken its first pupils in 2012. The capital for the work would have come from existing budgets and Council reserves. This would have easily met the demand for school places in the area.”

“After the election this programme was halted, and in September parents were told of plans instead for the expansion of St Mary’s primary school from 2 to 3 forms of entry spread over three sites (10 new classrooms in all), while postponing, until Government money is available, the expansion of Orleans Infants School and a possible costly expansion of the St Stephen’s School site.”

“This is irresponsible in the extreme. The record of all Governments in funding School places in Richmond has been poor - they have always underfunded. The extra places are going to have to be provided, so they may as well be done now, instead of inflicting worry and long traveling times onto parents and young children.”