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Is Richmond ready for primary place boom?
A primary school places crisis is looming next year, according to Richmond’s Liberal Democrats, prompting fierce criticism from the council.
Lib Dem leader Councillor Stephen Knight hit out at the Conservative-led council, claiming plans were not in place to meet the expected rise in reception pupils next September.
But Richmond Council cabinet member for schools Councillor Paul Hodgins responded by accusing the Lib Dems of misleading the electorate.
He said: “The Lib Dems are doing one of the few things they are good at and conveniently ignoring the mess they left and misleading people.
“We put in place a 10-year plan. During our term the equivalent of nine new two-form entry primary schools will have been added.
“We have secured 90 additional places for next year and we are in discussions with other schools about future expansions.
“We are supporting additional free school applications for the borough, which the Lib Dems have opposed.”
He added that Richmond is in “a much better place” than other councils.
An official report to last week’s finance and performance overview and scrutiny committee revealed additional primary places would be needed in Teddington, Sheen, Kew and possibly Twickenham.
Earlier this week, London Assembly member Coun Knight criticised the council for not planning ahead and leaving parents facing schools places crisis.
He said: “Despite knowing, since 2011, the likely increase in pupil numbers next September, the Tories have failed to plan for the four extra classes that will be needed, over and above this year’s numbers.
“Less than six months before pupils are due to be allocated their primary school places, the Tories still haven’t planned which schools are to expand.
“This shocking incompetence leaves parents facing a primary school crisis that could have been avoided.
“Children face the prospect of being accommodated in hastily installed temporary classrooms for years to come.”
Pupils starting reception in September 2014 were born in 2010, during which year the borough had the biggest baby boom in 24 years, with 2,992 newborns registered.
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