New schools starters face disapointment in Exmouth

PARENTS applying to what they hope will be their child’s first school could be turned down because there is no room for the youngsters.

Tony Priest, head of the Exmouth Learning Community group, revealed there had been 472 applications from people wanting their children to go to a state primary in the area for the upcoming academic year – with only 440 places available.

The situation is projected to be even worse for the following year. It is predicted there could be approximately 517 applications for 2012 and a shortfall of more than 65.

Mr Priest, head teacher at Lympstone Primary School, is ‘seriously concerned’ about the issue. He said the latter figure was the equivalent of three full classes of pupils.

“We are faced with the prospect, if we do nothing, of a significant number of parents being told that there is no room for their child at their first, second or third choice, or indeed at any other school in this area,” he said.

“There is no head teacher in this area who wants to have that conversation with a parent and I can’t imagine there would be any offices at county hall who would want to.”

Parents of children, aged four and five, need to apply for a place at a school well in advance. They have a first, second and third preference.

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Each primary has a planned admission number – a figure which the local authority agrees upon based on factors such as adequate learning space, learning equipment and toilets.

The total of 440 places within the learning community group was reached by adding up each school’s respective admission number.

Mr Priest added: “This means that if somehow you spread those 472 (applications) around and each school is full to their planned admission number, we would be 32 places short and 32 families disappointed.

“There are probably more families than that in this area because maybe one or two have just moved to the area and haven’t applied at all yet.

“With this shortfall problem, it is the responsibility of the admissions team at county hall to find an appropriate place for these children.

“The most likely scenario here is that individual schools will be asked to take a few more children than their planned limit.

“We face times of unparalleld challenge in terms the number of children wanting to come to our schools and, from a budget perspective, a period of austerity in coming years.”