Kids taught in church crypt due to shortage of school places in Tower Hamlets
by Gemma Collins YOUNGSTERS are being educated in the crypt of an East End church because of a major shortage of primary school places in Tower Hamlets, it emerged this week
YOUNGSTERS are being educated in the crypt of an East End church because of a major shortage of primary school places in Tower Hamlets, it emerged this week.
Five and six-year-olds are having their lessons among the church relics and stone pillars in the basement of Christ Church on the Isle of Dogs because the borough's 75 primary schools are full to the brim.
And in March the pupils will be shuffled around again as they are forced next-door into a temporary building in the grounds of St Luke's Primary.
The Advertiser has learnt that at the beginning of last year's September term 80 primary school kids were left without a place, including 53 Reception Year pupils and 27 in Year 1.
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Since then education chiefs have had to squeeze the children into William Davies Primary in Bethnal Green as well as the church, even if their parents live at the other side of the borough.
But there are still 10 five-year-olds stuck at home because they do not have a place at a school.
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Blackwall and Cubit Town ward councillor Tim Archer has hailed the fiasco "unbelievable".
He said: "It makes you think of post-war Britain when we were having to rebuild schools and children were being taught elsewhere.
"But yet here we are in 2010 with children without school places and being taught in a crypt.
"It is unbelievable. A church crypt is never going to be warm and cosy, it is always going to be cold.
"I refuse to believe this is the best the borough can come up with."
The crypt is believed to have been made `child-friendly' before the 10 children moved in there in January, with the steps being re-surfaced and padding placed around the pillars.
And another five kids are expected to enrol at the church later this month.
An increase in migration to the borough, more parents staying in the area rather than moving away, together with the rise in birth rates have been blamed for the shortage, with Tower Hamlets having one of the largest young populations in the country.
But schools across the capital are believed to be feeling the strain.
A council spokeswoman said: "Several primary schools are currently going through permanent expansion programmes to meet the anticipated increased demand for school places.