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Pressure on primary school places

Children playing but their parents are furious about a lack of local primary school places Photo: ITV Meridian

Three primary schools near Bearsted are full to bursting point. So much so that some parents have been unable to get their child into any of them, despite being one of their three preferred choices. Parent Katie Smith says she's livid:

"It makes you feel very frustrated, very angry, very upset, there's a whole mixture of emotions because you gear yourself up to thinking that your child is going to attend one of the three schools that you select and that doesn't happen so disappointment as well and a feeling of being let down."

The youngsters have been offered places at St Paul's Infants, up to three miles away.

Other parents in the area have the same predicament and they're not happy either:

"It's extremely frustrating that now I'm going to have three daughters at three totally different schools" they say. And: "Bitterly disappointed, angry, desperately unhappy."

So incensed are the families without their preferred place, they've made a petition of a thousand signatures urging the county council to make more places available so that local children go to local schools. The petition's now forced the council to debate the topic.

The problem's been caused in part by younger brothers and sisters getting automatic places at the schools, leaving fewer for anyone else, and partly by new house building creating extra demand.

Leader of Kent County Council, Paul Carter, says: "It's not an exact science how sibling links will pan out through the admissions process, it's not an exact science and I've had this problem elsewhere in Maidstone rural areas where it's happened one year and never happened again. I believe in Bearsted and Madginford it will happen again if we don't try to expand school provision in that locality and in that area and that is exactly what we're trying to do."

The council debate's on July the nineteenth; but it needs to produce results by the start of the September term.

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