Over 1,000 children in Southwark have missed out on their top secondary school choice this month as the council scrambled to deal with a record number of applicants.
Compared to other London boroughs, Southwark scored well below the average in the number of pupils who received their first choice (59.1 per cent against 68.5 per cent), or even one of their first three choices (85.5 per cent against 88.6 per cent).
It was, however, above average in terms of the number of pupils who did not receive a single one of their top-six choices (7.6 per cent against 6.1 per cent).
Southwark Liberal Dem’s education spokesperson councillor James Barber said the borough’s school places situation was a “time-bomb.”
He said: “Yet again, well over a third of our pupils are missing out on their first choice of school. Southwark is worse than the London average in every single secondary school admissions category.
“Liberal Democrats are fighting the corner of young people who deserve better than being one of an ever-increasing number who lose out. Southwark families deserve a better approach than more and more children being crammed into bigger classes and learning in unsuitable spaces.
“The Labour council needs to stop the school places time-bomb and get on with proper planning and finding sites for new schools. Southwark’s population is set to grow and grow in the coming years. The council can’t just sit on its hands.”
Southwark Council turned the blame on the government, urging them to give the council “greater powers” to solve the crisis.
Councillor Victoria Mills, Southwark Council cabinet member for children and schools, said: “This year we were looking at record numbers of applications and this trend is set to continue. Despite us working closely with our schools to open a new school and to expand existing schools, the government must recognise that we need greater powers to plan and deliver places and this should be backed up by money to build the high quality school places our children deserve.”