Stop the school rat run

14th April 2000 at 01:00
ONCE AGAIN Mr Blunkett is bemoaning the school run, claiming that a third of rush-hour morning traffic is school traffic. Where I live it is at least a half, maybe more.

I live in Kingston, a town with several high-achieving, selective and private schools. So children from miles around are driven into Kingston daily.

I cycle every day to Surbiton to take a train to work and I always know when these schools break up for the holidays, because the volume of traffic halves.

Because so many of Kingston's secondary schools are private or selective, most parents here find that the schools within walking distance are not an option.

Put my dreamy 10-year-old on a road on a bicycle? I think not. So, if we can, yes we too will drive our children to school.

But wouldn't it be grand if we could get Kingston kids into Kingston schools. I know of a Kingston family who, when applying for secondary schools did not receive a single offer from a school in the borough. Ad it doesn't end there.

There is increasingly selection of a different kind in the local infant schools.

I know of one couple, an atheist and a lapsed Catholic, who began attending a Church of England church on a regular basis, since it was made very clear to them, this was the only way they could guarantee their four-year-old a place at the popular CofE school, which was a two-minute walk from their home.

I have heard similar stories regarding popular Catholic primaries in the borough.

As a keen environmentalist and a non-driver, I agree entirely with Mr Blunkett that something needs to be done. But we should not expect local parents to get off the roads to make way for the privileged middle-classes to drive their children into Kingston.

Instead he should be addressing the wider problem that parents have in trying to find their children places in over-subscribed, higher-achieving schools.

Chris Powell

4 Cobham Road


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