Schooling ‘black hole’ in Wanstead and South Woodford, parents claim

Parents are angered that none of their choices for their children's education have not been accepted

Parents are angered that none of their choices for their children's education have not been accepted and they face travel of more than three miles to school every day as a result. Picture: Ken Mears - Credit: Archant

Children are being sent to primary schools more than three miles from their houses as parents claim there is a schooling “black hole” in Redbridge.

A group of more than 30 South Woodford and Wantead parents have joined forces to ask Redbridge Council why their four and five-year-olds have been given Reception places in Clayhall and Gants Hill.

"Its logistically not possible," said dad Lee Bonnick.

"I don't mind which of the six schools my child gets into nearby, but how can working parents drop their children off the other side of the borough and get to work?

"The statutory walking distance for any child under the age of eight is two miles and there are an excessive amount of cases this year where children have been allocated schools further than this - it is not as if a 5-year-old can get to school by themselves.

"We can only see this situation getting worse - it's happening year on year as never-ending development continues - enough is enough and something has to be done about it."

Mr Bonnick believes Redbridge Council is not investing in infrastructure and when new housing complexes are built it is not building schools.

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"In South Woodford, there are currently at least three projects being developed with no extra school places being made to accommodate," he added.

"Our children are suffering the brunt of this and not being allowed their given right to attend a local school.

"A school for them to make local friends, to be part of their local community and most importantly be able to walk to.

"This is not fair to our children. Redbridge Council are well aware, why the sudden need to create an extra reception at Parkhill School (Clayhall)- nothing is being done to support the local families.

"This unacceptable situation requires immediate action, the neglect cannot go on."

Councillor for Churchfields Ward, Cllr Stephen Adams said sending dozens of children to be schooled miles away from where they live is wholly unacceptable.

"The council has been spending millions of pounds expanding schools south of the borough, where there is now an excess supply of places," he said.

"It's time the council invested money where it is needed.

"We need bulge classes in Woodford to meet immediate demand, and expansion of existing schools in the area to meet future demand. "Local children deserve a local school."

A Redbridge Council spokeswoman said it works extremely hard to accommodate families' requests, with the number of children given their first preference primary school higher than last year.

"While there are more than enough places across Redbridge, we appreciate that in Woodford, South Woodford and Wanstead some families didn't secure one of their local schools," she added.

"To support families, we are tracking the take-up of places on a daily basis and looking at options to create additional provision where needed.

"Once the admissions offer process is completed by mid-May, we will then be able to determine how many children remain without a place at one of their preferred schools and decide how best to support those families."

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