Squeeze on primary school rolls ‘could be made worse’

Abacus Belsize could be moving to the grounds of Haverstock School

Thursday, 27th January — By Harry Taylor

Rhyl School Gospel Oak NW5

Rhyl Primary School

THE chair of governors at a Kentish Town primary school said she fears pupil shortage pressure will intensify if another primary relocates to the area.

Helene Reardon-Bond, who is head of the board of governors at Rhyl Primary School in Rhyl Street, said the potential arrival of Abacus Belsize to the grounds of Haverstock School could reduce the number of applications at others – when there is already a squeeze.

Abacus was at the centre of a long-running but failed attempt to open up in the old Hampstead Police Station in Rosslyn Hill.

It has been operating a temporary site in Camley Street – with pupils bused in and out each day.

The New Journal understands a feasibility study into the potential relocation to the site in Haverstock Hill is still ongoing.

“We’ve raised concerns, and a lot of other primary schools have raised concerns about Abacus moving into the area when there are falling pupil numbers in the borough,” Ms Reardon-Bond said.

“It’s not just Rhyl affected, and it’s not just about finances. Children learn best in a full school.”

According to data provided to governors in June, Abacus is only 78 per cent full, with 164 pupils in the school.

Mrs Reardon-Bond added: “I don’t feel it’s appropriate to move into an area when the school itself has surplus places.”

Phil Allman, the head of Primrose Hill Primary School in Princess Road, said: “We look forward to further consultation when this is available.
“Many schools are concerned given the situation in London with falling pupil numbers.”

Abacus, an academy school run by Anthem, was established in 2013 amid a shortage of primary school places in Belsize, which forced parents into “pray or pay” choice – religious or private options – for their children.

Since then, pupil numbers have fallen across the borough, which resulted in Carlton Primary in Queen’s Crescent being merged with Rhyl ahead of the school year in September.

A spokesperson for Anthem declined to comment.

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