There is no schools place crisis, the leader of Kingston Council has said, as figures reveal some schools had four times as many applications last year as they had places to offer.
Kingston Council figures show for the September 2013 academic year there were 6,764 applications for 2,040 places. Although parents are encouraged to put down up to six choices, a chief education officer said many did not.
The most popular school in the borough was Latchmere School that had 491 applications for 120 places, with 156 parents making it their first preference.
Kings Oak only had 90 applications for 90 places with just 36 parents saying it was their first choice.
Liberal Democrat and Kingston Council leader Councillor Liz Green said there were always dropouts and many of the children ended up going to private schools.
She said: “People like that term ‘school crisis’. But there is no crisis in Kingston. We are providing the school places.”
But David Cunningham, the Conservative councillor overseeing schools, said: “I think the figures are disturbing. “It really shows the problem in Kingston schools, particularly in north Kingston.”
He said council officers publicly admitted they faced “a challenge” even if they did not admit to a crisis.
Julie Ritchie, headteacher at Kingston’s most popular school, said: “Latchmere is delighted to be supported and valued by the community it serves.”
Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: “As a result of the Government’s academy and free schools programme, councils find themselves in the untenable position of having responsibility for providing quality primary and secondary places, but no power to plan, commission or build schools. “The reality is that many children could be without a school place, perhaps as many as one in four.
“We need to see an end to this chaotic approach to education provision and return to policies which work for all children and young people.
Local authorities know best where and when places are needed in their communities. They need the power to open new schools”.
- Christian group Chapel Street and Gems, who run schools across the world, including in the United Arab Emirates, have put in applications for funding.
- They are expected to be told whether they are successful by the Education Funding Authority in the next few weeks.
- Chapel Street wants to open a primary and secondary school in Kingston or Norbiton to begin opening its first stage by September 2015.
- Gems is hoping to run a primary school somewhere in Tolworth, starting with 60 pupils.