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MP helen hayes: Give councils more power to open schools again


Across Southwark thousands of young people have received their GCSE, AS and A-level results in the last week – an exciting and nerve wracking time.

I hope that everyone reading this column achieved the results that you hoped for.

In just over a week’s time thousands more children will be starting primary school at the beginning of September for the first time, or transferring to their new secondary school. Southwark’s schools have changed immeasurably for the better since the election of the 1997 Labour government through the hard work of teachers, pupils, governors and parents.

The number of children and young people is rising across London as the capital’s population continues to grow, and there continues to be pressure on school places. It is one of my top priorities to ensure that every child in my constituency has access to a place at a good or outstanding school.

I am delighted that the hard campaigning work of parents and local councillors will come to fruition in September when the new Charter East Dulwich School opens in temporary accommodation, prior to moving to its permanent home on the Dulwich Hospital site. The planning applications for the permanent school and a new health centre on the Dulwich Hospital site were submitted last month and I encourage all local residents to submit their views via the council’s website.

The previous coalition government and the current Tory government have both failed to respond adequately to the need for more school places, often taking too little action far too late. The Free School programme is inefficient, bureaucratic, wasteful and simply not fit for purpose, leaving local councils in the absurd situation of having the responsibility to provide a place for every child that needs one, but no power to open new schools.

I am delighted to see high quality schools such as Charter and Dulwich Hamlet opening new schools to meet growing demand in our area, but our councils should also be able to open good local schools where they are needed – the current system leaves too much to chance.


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