Labour education chief told about Barking school’s struggle

A political bigwig visited one of the country’s largest primary schools to learn about the school place shortage in the borough.

Stephen Twigg MP, Labour’s shadow education secretary, visited Gascoigne Primary School in Barking on Monday, where he was shown around by headteacher Bob Garton, Cllr Saima Ashraf, also the chairman of governors, and Margaret Hodge, MP.

Mrs Hodge said: “Gascoigne Primary is a great school. I want Stephen to see some of the challenges we face in the borough especially with the increasing demand for school places.”

The school has nearly 1,200 pupils and is in the top 10 largest primary schools in the country, but it is set on one site.

The main catchment area is the nearby Gascoigne Estate and it takes in many pupils from migrant and homeless families.

Most pupils are from an ethnic minority background with the largest groups being from a Black African or Eastern European background.

There is a very high take up of free school meals. Gascoigne Primary School’s last Ofsted inspection in July 2012 concluded it was a good school and that it offered high quality care and support for its pupils.