Parents’ victory as Tower Hamlets makes U-turn on primary school admissions

Town Hall protest in May by families over lack of school places

Town Hall protest in May by families over lack of school places - Credit: Archant

Over-subscribed primary schools in London’s East End must now give priority to children who live the closest distance or those with older brothers or sisters already there.

Chisenhale Primary School in Bow

Chisenhale Primary School in Bow - Credit: Archant

The U-turn in Tower Hamlets’ admissions policy marks a victory for parents who have failed to get their children into three local primary schools and are having their appeals heard next Tuesday.

The council’s cabinet last night reversed the authority’s new admissions policy brought in last year which gave preference to those living “the furthest distance to the nearest alternative school within their catchment area,” and second preference to those outside the catchment area by the shortest walking distance.

Now schools with too many applications have to give first choice to those living the shortest walking distance in their catchment area as well as the oldest in the family and their youngster siblings.

The criteria is now priority to those in the catchment area for whom the school they applied for is their nearest, followed by children who live the nearest.

Campaigning mum Keeley Naylor, whose own toddler daughter in Chisenhale School’s nursery class in Bow has been denied a Reception place in September, said after the cabinet meeting: “Kids living closest to the school were being discriminated against—they were the last to get a place, in favour of children living 10 times as far.”

The policy change applies for admissions next year—too late for Chisenhale Nursery class parents taking their case to Appeal next Tuesday, although they are still hoping to get their children into the school’s Reception class in September. Nine failed to get a place.

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Their campaign which also involved Globe and Olga primary schools in Bethnal Green led to a petition by by 1,000 parents handed into the council last month, calling for an expansion programme as a long-term solution.