Croydon’s education system has come under further criticism this week as the council revealed that over 150 children face the prospect of missing out on a school place.
The council statement, ordered by the High Court and reported by the Croydon Advertiser earlier this week, found that 158 children had not yet been offered a school place, with nearly half of the children affected from overseas.
In the statement, Alison Critchley, Director of Commissioning, Performance and Partnership for Croydon council, denies there is a shortfall of secondary school places in the borough: “For the September 2010 admissions, all Croydon residents who applied on time for a place in Year Seven received an offer of a place… [A] census shows a total of 715 surplus places in Croydon schools for secondary pupils.”
But three weeks ago Croydon council was accused of a “lamentable failure” by the High Court for not finding appropriate schooling for three teenage Afghan asylum seekers who were sent to an adult language college instead of mainstream schools.
Representing the Council, Jennie Richards told the hearing it was because the authority had 1,274 children already on its school waiting list.
A council spokesman said that most were looking to transfer from other schools in Croydon or were coming from outside the borough. “Only a small proportion of those will be at home”, he said, but that information has been refuted by a recent council statement.
Jon Rouse, council chief executive, said two weeks ago that 300 children are being home-schooled in Croydon, but he didn’t accept a crisis in school admissions department: “You must remember it is the parents who are making the individual decision to keep their children out of schools, there is a degree of personal choice here.”
Mr Rouse explained the high demand for school places because of Croydon’s position as a point of entry for asylum seekers and refugee families.