Figures released this week show that Southwark’s school places ‘timebomb’ is ticking ever faster as the borough remains one of the worst in London for new admissions to secondary schools.
Over 1,000 pupils were rejected from their first choice of secondary school this year - out of a total of 2,637 applications. It means more than one in three (40.4%) lost out on a place in their preferred school – an increase on last year and the third worst performance of all the 33 London boroughs.
The number of pupils rejected by all of their six choices (6.8% or 180 pupils) is also likely to remain one of the worst in the country when the full national statistics are revealed in coming weeks. Southwark is the fourth worst London borough in this category this year.
It is disappointing to see that fewer than two-thirds of Southwark families are getting their first choice of school.
We warned when Labour cut 200,000 school places nationally that this would be the outcome. While recent Ofsted reports shows that we have good local schools in Southwark - we clearly need more of them.
I want more young people to go to their first choice of school, as they do in other London boroughs. I am committed to keep fighting to improve education standards in our area.
Southwark Liberal Democrats have said the new figures highlight the urgent need for more permanent school places in the borough. They have also attacked Labour councillors for failing to ensure the former Southwark Fire Station site becomes a new secondary school for the north of the borough instead of yet more luxury flats.
Liberal Democrat councillors have been at the forefront of local campaigns for new schools over recent years, including helping to secure funding and land for new academy schools in Dulwich and Bermondsey.
Commenting, Southwark Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Children and Young People, Councillor James Okosun, said:
“It is a real cause for concern that over a third of our pupils are missing out on their first choice of school. Southwark is still one of the worst performing boroughs in the whole of London for secondary school admissions.
“Labour talks about creating new places and schools but its own in-fighting could stop a new school opening in the former Southwark Fire Station. Labour members on the London Fire & Emergency Planning Authority want to sell the site for yet more luxury housing and Southwark Labour councillors seem powerless to stop them.
“Liberal Democrats are fighting for our young people who deserve better than being one of an ever-increasing number who lose out on their first-choice school. The Labour council needs to stop the clock ticking on its school places timebomb.”