Parental choices showed Beech Grove and Rockwell Green to be the town’s most popular primary schools for admission next September. Both were oversubscribed in the recent allocation of places – Beech Grove School by 50%, having to turn 21 families away.
With all-round pressure on places due to a ‘baby boom’, the local authority has had to increase the overall number available in Wellington.
Lindsay Gabriel, Head of Wellesley Park, one of the town’s largest primary schools, said, “We have actually raised our admission number to 56 this year and we are not over-subscribed. There usually tends to be some movement in potential new starters now admission places have been sent out to parents. Numbers tend to change over the next few weeks.”
Peter Grogan, Corporate Information Governance Manager at Somerset County Council, provided the following detailed information about the situation regarding possible over-subscription in the town’s 4 primary schools:
- Beech Grove and Rockwell Green were over-subscribed;
- Wellesley Park Primary School have 9 places left within a published admission number of 56 so they took 47;
- St John’s Primary School offered places to 29 children which is over the published admission number of 25. This was in order to offer a school place to catchment children who had been refused their preferred school(s);
- Rockwell Green had 28 places allocated and 9 applications refused. This exceeded the published admission number of 25 by 3;
- Beech Grove had 42 places allocated and 21 applications refused.
The pressure on primary school places is expected to increase over the coming years, due to a fast-rising birthrate. Teachers’ leader Dr Mary Bousted, General Secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), refers to “a growing crisis” as increase in demand puts pressure on local authorities’ budgets and school planning. It is anticipated that more than 100,000 extra places will need to be funded in primary schools nationally over the next few years.
In Somerset as a whole 97% of children have been given one of their top three choices and 91% have received their first choice. Nationally, 94% of children were offered places at one of their top 3 preferences.
Cllr Frances Nicholson, Somerset County Council Cabinet member for Children and Families, admitted “the task gets ever more challenging”, but added “It is great news that in almost all cases we have been able to meet parents’ and carers’ preferences. This year is an improvement on last year and that was an improvement on the year before.”