School place trouble expected to worsen

MORE than 20 primary school children living in Portishead have to travel outside the town to be educated and the situation is expected to get worse.

The rapid growth of Portishead is being blamed for town’s school admissions crisis.

Figures published by North Somerset Council’s children and young people’s services (CYPS) department reveal there is likely to be a shortfall of 103 primary school places in the town by 2015.

Talking at a Portishead Town Council meeting on October 12, CYPS planning and access service manager Sally Varley said: “The council is required to meet demand across the district and not within individual towns or villages, however, it does aspire to offer local schools for local children.”

Even though the council considers a wide range of statistical data when making projections for school places Mrs Varley said making projections will never be an exact science.

Some of the schools’ funding cannot be applied for until projections are proven, that is until admissions forms are processed.

North Somerset Council says some children miss out on places because parents put only one school preference down when completing the admissions application form.

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If only one school is entered on the form and it is oversubscribed, the child will not be offered a place at another school, until all fully-completed forms have been processed. This could mean a child from outside the town is offered the place if it is listed as a preference on their application.

Mrs Varley added: “As a council we can never promise a place and we are equally exasperated when we have to offer a non-local parent a place at a school whilst refusing a place to a local resident who has not named the school as a preference.”