Offers of places in the borough’s primary schools last week and while many parents will be pleased with the schools their child has been offered many will have been disappointed. About a third of parents did not get their child into their first choice of school, and while there will still be some change (people may move or transfer to the private sector) there won’t be enough to change to mean everyone gets their choice.
There are many reasons not everyone got their first choice. First, some schools are obviously more popular than others and are over subscribed, and some schools still have spaces, for example, most schools in Battersea still have places remaining. Second, the population change in the borough is not evenly distributed putting more pressure on schools in the south and west of the borough (and likewise leaving spare places in Battersea). Third, the recession has played a part, there are undoubtedly parents who would have moved or opted for the private sector but now find the economy means putting their children into a Wandsworth school.
It is a consequence of choice. Parents’ choices will never conveniently fit existing provision; but choice, even if not perfect, is better than the old ways which saw parents forced to send their children to the nearest school, regardless of their wishes. While not everyone will be entirely satisfied, the majority of parents got their first choice school for their child.
The council will be looking at expanding the entry into a number of schools this Summer (as we did last year) which will ease some of the pressure. But this is an ongoing challenge for the council and the borough’s schools. The best long-term solution, realistically, is improving the standards of all our schools so the first choices are more evenly spread.