Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Brum's schools crisis

The chronic shortage of primary school places hit the front page of yesterday’s Birmingham Mail. And rightly so. This is one of the biggest problems I face as a local councillor. Birmingham is the youngest city in Europe. It is hardly surprising the demand on primary school places is going to intensify. But instead of the city’s education bosses investing for the future, education provision is being under resourced. Too many of our children are being taught in temporary build accommodation. Many more have to travel great distances across the city because they cannot find a school place in the area in which they live. This problem is particularly acute in deprived inner city wards like Sparkbrook and Springfield.

I have raised this issue both in the Council House and at ward level recently when I invited the Cabinet Member for Education to attend. I stressed that the council’s rote response about their being no school places crisis in Birmingham as a whole is dishonest. Families want to send their children to local schools. It is better for community cohesion and it is certainly better for family life. And it is sad that the areas hardest hit are the poorest. Education is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty. The solution is simple – we need to build more primary (and secondary) schools.