School places

Sir, The series of articles that have appeared in the local media in recent months about the shortage of primary school places in Oxfordshire give the impression that this is due to factors outside of the control of the local education authority.

Whilst we cannot comment on the situation in Oxfordshire as a whole we can demonstrate that this is not the case in Abingdon.

The fact is that the situation in north Abingdon is not new and has been the case for the last two years.

It has never been unavoidable but has instead been created as a direct result of the policies adopted by the local education authority in recent years.

The anticipated demand for places was known at least three years beforehand and feasibility exercises for all schools in north Abingdon have identified several options for further expansion of schools in the area to accommodate the additional places required.

Instead the LEA decided to expend hundreds of thousands of pounds on a school in the south of the town which already had a surplus of places. This policy has resulted in a school population with over 60 per cent travelling from distance to attend.

Given the above failures, the subsequent wall of silence and the refusal of the local education authority to either hold a public meeting or offer any justification for their actions, it is difficult to envisage any alternative system that would not be preferable if it minimised the opportunity for LEA involvement.

Martin Busson Radley Road Abingdon

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