Overcrowding to become a fact of life as Greenwich fails to plan for children’s futures

At a meeting of Greenwich Council’s Cabinet on Tuesday, Labour Councillors agreed to spend in excess of £45m patching up and installing portacabins in primary schools across the borough as they searched for extra places for primary age children.


The plans result from the Council’s inability to plan for an extra 510 school places which will be required by September 2014.  This is the equivalent of 17 extra forms across the borough and means many primary schools are going to find their playgrounds packed with portacabins rather than skipping children.


The decisions will mean portacabins being squeezed into playgrounds across the borough, including:-

  • Hawksmoor Primary School in Thamesmead
  • Alexander McLeod Primary School in Abbey Wood
  • St Thomas a Becket Primary School in Abbey Wood.
  • Discovery Primary School in Thamesmead
  • Abbey Wood Nursery School.


This leaves another 120 places still to be found at other, as yet unidentified, schools across the north of the borough.


Luckily the coalition government has provided extra funds to allow the Council to address its failure to plan properly for the increase in school places required – this is widely recognised as a substantial improvement on the extra borrowing which was normally allowed by the previous Labour government.


The plans also include funds for a complete rebuild of Foxfield Primary School in Woolwich, for urgent repairs to a range of schools, the creation of a University Technical College (specialising in engineering and construction) and the rebuilding of Willow Dene School.


Leader of Greenwich Conservatives Cllr Spencer Drury said “The fact Labour have know that this increase in population is coming means their failure to plan for extra schools is completely inexplicable.  Frankly a primary age child could do the maths required to notice we were over 500 places short and their incompetence means many Greenwich children will have less space to play and be taught in portacabins.  I know teacher will do their best to mitigate this problem, but I fear overcrowded conditions will have a negative impact of the quality of education provided to our youngest residents.”


“The other disappointment here is that the Council has failed to engage with the three Free Schools who are attempting to set up across the borough.  These organisations could provide the extra spaces quickly and with a little support from the Council might be the answer to our problems here.”


“On a different note, Conservatives welcome the plan to rebuild Willow Dene School but believe that this should take place on the existing site rather than moving to Hervey Road Sports Ground as the Council has suggested previously.  We must protect our green space in this borough otherwise future generations will curse the lack of care we have taken when concreting over valuable local facilities.”