Hundreds of children still without a primary school place in Croydon
HUNDREDS of children have yet to secure a school place for September.
With the new term just two months away, estimates passed to the Advertiser suggest the council may need to find reception places for an additional 300 pupils.
Urgent talks have been held with governing bodies across the borough in hope of persuading more schools to take "bulge" classes, many in temporary buildings.
Croydon Council said the measures were a response to unprecedented demand caused by a "baby boom" and an increase in inward migration.
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A spokesman said it was "too early" to say how many children are currently without a school for September, or how many bulge classes are needed, because it had not received replies back from all parents. Schools chief, Councillor Tim Pollard, said all of the 4,894 children who applied have been offered a place at a Croydon primary school.
The figure of 300, he explained, was the number of parents who had not been given one of their preferences and had turned down places offered to them at other schools, as well as predictions for late applications.
Cllr Pollard, who is cabinet member for children, young people and learners, said: "I won't pretend for a moment it's an easy situation or one that isn't causing significant concern but it's not the crisis its being painted as."
In March, it emerged that 14 schools had already been asked to take bulge classes in September.
Since then additional schools have been approached as the huge volume of applications made it clear these contingency plans were not enough.
The council confirmed it has held talks with a number of governing bodies but declined to reveal which schools.
It is understood Cypress Junior School and South Norwood Primary School are among those to have been approached.
Councillor Kathy Bee, Labour's spokesperson for education and chairman of governors at Cypress Junior School, in South Norwood, said the situation was being downplayed.
She added: "The council is desperately trying to get schools to agree to take additional bulge classes.
"These schools are quickly having to work out whether they can accommodate more children, which raises a lot of questions about space.
"There is a huge amount of pressure on schools to take extra pupils. It's not just about whether they have the space but the impact it can have on the rest of the children."
Parents were asked to list up to six preferences when they applied for one of the 4,620 currently available places at reception level in Croydon.
Estimates suggest up to 200 families turned down alternative offers when their child did not get the place they wanted.
The council has advised parents to accept the original offer.
There are currently 13 bulge classes and four permanent expansions in place for September. A new primary school, the Robert Fitzroy Academy, is due to open in September on the site of the Davidson Centre, in Addiscombe.