Today is National Offer Day, when parents and children learn which school place they have been allocated by Wandsworth Council for September and I’m one of them! This September my middle child will be going to secondary school so like many other parents in the borough I am eager to be told he’s got his first place school.
But, sadly, the reality for many parents in Wandsworth is that the news they hear today won’t be good news.
Last year, 42% of Wandsworth’s children missed out on their first choice of school.
I’ve seen first-hand the distress this causes parents and children. Last year, I was contacted by many parents – sometimes in tears in the playground – asking for my help.
Wandsworth Labour is taking the opportunity of National Offer Day to pledge that should Labour take control of Wandsworth in May, we will ensure a fair provision of school places right across the borough.
Parents are not only anxious about getting their child into the school they want to go to, but about the budget cuts those schools are facing. This is another topic which regularly comes up in the school playground. Last year we held a public meeting at my local primary school where the headteacher spelled out exactly what those cuts have meant for her school.
According to the National Education Union, schools in Wandsworth are facing Tory cuts of £9 million between 2015/16 and 2020/21. This is equivalent to losing more than 150 teachers. Wandsworth Labour has been fighthing these cuts and I am delighted that Rebecca Wilson, who was a key part of the #FairFundingWandsworth campaign has put herself forward as a candidate in our neighbouring ward of Nightingale. She will make a great councillor come May.
We know that schools in Battersea, Putney and Tooting are not replacing teachers and teaching assistants. Some parents have been asked to make donations towards classroom equipment. After-school and pre-school provision has been reduced. Drama, sport and music are being cut. It’s desperately sad to see children miss out.