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It's time to tackle the school places crisis

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24 September 2014
School pic Earlier this month I spoke in a House of Commons debate about infant class sizes. Lewisham is increasingly a place where young families want to live and this is reflected in a dramatic increase in our birth rate. The impact of this is that, over the last six years, competition for primary school places in Lewisham has been growing. 
Time and time again at my advice surgeries and on the doorstep I meet parents who are angry about their inability to get their son or daughter into a local school. I have raised their concerns in two meetings this year with the Schools Minister, where I explained the huge pressures on primary school places in our borough and warned him of the inevitable looming crisis at secondary school level.
In my speech I noted the efforts of Lewisham Council in creating nearly 3000 more primary school places since 2008. They are now in a situation where they are facing a £19m shortfall in funding leading up to 2016 – an example of the failure of the present Government to adequately fund additional school places in areas with the greatest need for them. Many of those mums and dads who raise their concerns with me are left wondering why public money is being spent on opening new schools in leafy areas where demand is low, while their own children are being squeezed into more and more crowded schools. It is time for the Government to recognise its responsibilities and ensure that scarce public funds go to where they’re needed most.
You can read my speech in full here.

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