Meet Isabel – why we need a new primary school in NW6

** NW6 primary school campaign update **

The Ham & High splashed its front page this morning with a heart-wrenching story about a young family who haven’t got a school place for their daughter who is due to start primary school in September.

This is despite having applied to half a dozen Camden schools and a couple in next-door Westminster.

Now the case of Isabel Gosling is extreme, by anyone’s standards.  But it only goes to underline how absolutely dire the need for additional school places – heck, a new school – is west of the Finchley Road.

For an idea about how serious the problem is, see the latest blog on the numbers of children without a primary school place in NW6 – there’s no other part of Camden where demand so outsrips capacity.

Sadly, it’s not just as simple as Camden agreeing about the need and deciding to build a new school.  Legislation brought in by the Coalition Government prevents Local Education Authorities – even good ones, like Camden – from building a new community school.

If you’re a  company and want to sponsor an academy or a group of parents and choose to set up a free school, that’s fine.  If you’re a group of politicians, elected to ensure demand for public services in the community is met, well, that’s just tough.  In truth, it’s Government dogma which is tying the council’s hands here.

This isn’t an argument about whether free schools or academies are good, or bad, or anything inbetween.  It’s about the frustration of having to find ways around legislation which is designed to stop councils doing what they are meant to do.

Who have thought that Tories would introduce more red tape to stop people just “getting on with things”.

Nor could you make up the brass neck of a Lib Dem councillor who – having spent the past year or more trying to set up a school in Belsize – accuses Camden of dither.  Especially as his party ran the council two years ago and – according to the Cabinet Member for schools at the time, didn’t identify a site in NW6 for a school.

You might laugh about the irony, until you read about Isabel.

So please support our campaign, by signing Labour’s petition.


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