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Islington parents in dismay over primary places told to wait for drop-outs

Cllr Joe Caluori Cllr Joe Caluori

Tuesday, April 29, 2014
5:07 PM

Youngsters who had the door slammed on their dream primary may yet get their wish, the town hall’s schools’ chief has said.

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More than a quarter of children missed out on their first choice when figures were announced on April 16, while 144 children did not get a place at any of their six chosen schools.

In previous years a number of parents planning to send their children to private schools across London have applied to the borough’s top local authority institutions on the off-chance of securing a place.

When these parents “drop out” children who have been left out in the cold could end up with a place at one of their favoured schools.

Stressful

Despite Islington having the third lowest percentage of children claiming their first choice school in London, the council’s executive member for children’s services, Cllr Joe Caluori, has said there is adequate provision.

“We know we have a high drop-out rate so it’s worth them parents working with us over the summer and hopefully they will get a school they’re happy with.

“If you aren’t able to get a place at one of your top three schools at the moment it is likely that if you wait one will become available.

“Last year only five parents missed out on one of their chosen schools – which in a cohort of 2000 is pretty good.

“Applying for a primary, especially for the first time is a hugely stressful and difficult time, but I’m happy to speak to any parents about their situation.”

One family who missed out on a place at all six of her choices was Naomi Fox and her son Thierry. Despite applying to five schools within walking distance and one a short bus ride away, she was unsuccessful.

Their first choice was Yerbury, just 0.4 miles from their home in Holland Walk, Archway, but Thierry, four, was one of more than 300 children vying for just 60 places at the school.

Miss Fox said: “I used to live in Caledonian Road but I moved to Archway because it has so many primary schools.

“I spent months looking at different schools and choosing which to apply for. I’m a nurse who works mostly nights so I need a school nearby because I finish work at 8.30am, walk to my son’s nan’s house and pick him up and take him to school.

“The alternatives I have been offered are either underperforming schools or on the other side of the borough.”

Thierry has been offered a place at Whitehall Park Free School, which was a free “seventh choice” for many parents, but his mother is reluctant to send her son to a school which “they haven’t started building yet”.

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