Plea to end Barking and Dagenham school places crisis

A mother who has struggled to get her children in to primary schools says the government must pledge more funds to deal with the shortage of school places in Barking and Dagenham.

Lynn Doyle, of Donne Road, Dagenham, described the current situation as “absolutely ridiculous” and said the �23.9million the council received from the government last week to create extra places was “not enough”.

She also said the authority’s last resort scenario – to educate children in shifts – could lead to their education suffering.

As previously reported in the Post, the 32-year-old and her children, Kia, 12, Gracie-May, five, and Tomas, three, moved from Merseyside to the borough in August. Lynn applied for places for the eldest two the same month.

Around two weeks after the term started, Kia was offered a spot at Henry Green Primary, in Dagenham, where she started shortly after. Gracie-May was offered a place at Manor Infants, in Barking, but Lynn says she is unable to transport both daughters to different schools and her son to nursery for 9am. She is teaching Gracie-May at home while she waits for a place closer to her home.

“When I moved here I didn’t think I’d be struggling to get my kids into school and be forced to teach at home,” she said.

“I can’t believe the borough is in this situation. It’s absolutely ridiculous.

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“The government must give the council more funds to deal with the crisis.”

Cabinet member for education, Cllr Rocky Gill, said last week the �23.9m from the government “will not meet [the borough’s] critical needs”.

He said if “hundreds of millions of pounds” was not forthcoming, children may have to be educated in shifts.

But Barking MP Margaret Hodge described the funding as “fantastic news”.

She said: “I’ve been campaigning with the council to get this extra money for a long time.

“We’ve kept up the pressure over the last 12 months and I’m so pleased that [education secretary, Michael Gove] has now listened.

“This money will help make sure local children are given a good education in decent classrooms.”