School run is forced' on parents

PUBLISHED: 12:09 11 May 2006 | UPDATED: 13:27 04 May 2010

EDUCATION chiefs who got their sums wrong have left 19 five-year-olds facing a three-mile-round trek to school. They failed to predict demand for reception places at Ely s newest primary school and there is no room for the youngsters in September. Instead

EDUCATION chiefs who got their sums wrong have left 19 five-year-olds facing a three-mile-round trek to school.

They failed to predict demand for reception places at Ely's newest primary school and there is no room for the youngsters in September.

Instead of going to the Lantern Primary School on their doorstep, the children will have to travel to Spring Meadow Primary School on the other side of the city.

The Lantern Primary School has just 86 pupils and can take up to 210. But Cambridgeshire County Council is refusing to add an extra reception class.

Instead, they want to see a fourth reception class added to Spring Meadow Primary School, despite the fact that Ofsted education inspectors gave the school a rap over the knuckles for its "inadequate outdoor facilities for children's physical development in reception classes".

Angry parents staged a demonstration outside the Lantern Primary School on Friday calling on education chiefs to reverse their decision.

They have also organised a 200-strong signature petition and are compiling a website to register parents' views.

Parent Chris St John, of Columbine Road, Ely whose five-year-old son has missed out on a place at the Lantern, said: "We live about a third of a mile from the school, but my son has been refused a place there and at St John's School, which is the next closest.

"Now he will have to be driven to school. I desperately wanted him to be able to walk.

"Children are always being encouraged by the Government to walk to school and here we have my son's mother being forced to be a 'school-run mum', which she doesn't want to be."

Cllr Nigel Bell, who represents Ely North and East on Cambridge County Council, said: "With the ongoing growth of Ely, it is vitally important that resources are properly matched to future need.

"I understand that the projected increase in the number of children in the Lantern School's catchment area over the next few years would seem to indicate that a further reception class should be established there.

"I hope that a satisfactory solution can be quickly delivered and that future local education authority predictions are more accurate as to where the allocation of resources is most needed."

A Cambridgeshire County Council spokesman said that the Lantern was in great demand.

"There are more reception age children living within its catchment area than was anticipated," he added. "This could be because more families with young children are moving into the area, or it could be because fewer children are going into the private sector or to other schools.

"It's all down to forecasting - and it is only a forecast and not an exact science.

"A decision on whether to create an additional reception class at The Lantern in September will only be made after detailed discussions have taken place between admission officers at the county council and the headteachers of all the Ely primary schools. Any decision reached must be in the best interests of pupils, their parents and all the schools concerned.

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