Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Ten Children Fighting for Each Place at Top London Schools

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Ten Children Fighting for Each Place at Top London Schools

Article excerpt

Byline: TIM MILES

FINDING a place in one of London's top secondary schools is getting more and more difficult, with some schools nearly 10 times oversubscribed.

Parents face an unprecedented scramble for places in good state schools, equivalent for the lucky few of winning the education jackpot.

A survey shows that in more than half London's most successful state schools, three parents are chasing every place.

Thousands are now hearing the news they dread; that successful schools have turned down their children because they have failed entrance tests or, in non-selective schools, because classes are full.

They now face the prospect of appeals and a nerve-wracking wait for spare places in less popular schools.

For some, the wait will continue past the beginning of the new school year in September, either because no place is available or, increasingly, it is a place parents are not prepared to accept.

Last September, 60 children in Lambeth still had no place and 150 in Enfield started being taught in a library. In Southwark, 150 parents set up their own school rather than send their children to a former failing one.

Some boroughs only finally managed to find enough places last year by using their reserve powers to instruct schools which were full to take more children.

An Evening Standard survey of the 32 boroughs suggests the most popular schools are more heavily oversubscribed than last year.

Of those that achieved the best exam results last year, 17 are oversubscribed for September by more than 300 per cent - Oxford and Cambridge universities receive three applications for every place.

Latymer in Enfield and Haberdashers' Aske's, Lewisham, had almost 10 for each place.

Underlying the squeeze on places is a bulge in population as Baby-Boomers have their own children.

The Funding Agency for Schools, responsible for grant-maintained schools under the Tories, estimated that in 2005 there would be a surplus of only 470 secondary places across London - but only if parents were denied a choice.

Even then, 15 boroughs predicted they would not have enough places.

The extra numbers are adding strains to an already complex system of school admissions. …

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