Fears over free school funding

The proportion of underperforming secondary schools is lower in Sheffield than on average in England
The proportion of underperforming secondary schools is lower in Sheffield than on average in England
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Campaigning parents fear they may lose out on a new free school in Roundhay as they demand action from authorities over “unacceptable” delays.

Parents have taken their call to Leeds City Council chief executive Tom Riordan calling for a public meeting to secure answers over the school. Ongoing delays in settling on a preferred site - and concerns over openness about the options - mean the whole scheme could end up being scrapped, they say.

“It feels as if we’re being used as a political football,” said Leeds father Damian Nicholls from West Park, whose daughter is set to start school in 2020.

“Everybody feels quite passionately in the need for a new local school. Yet nothing seems to be happening. Since 2015, we’ve made no real progress. There’s a lot of effort that’s gone into it. This is all lost if we don’t move forward.”

The Roundhay area in Leeds, dubbed the ‘black hole’ of primary school places, has long faced a shortage of spaces. The debate took a new turn last month as the school trust said none of the previously considered sites were viable, instead launching a consultation over building at Elmete Wood. But this prompted further rows, with councillors stepping forward to say this wasn’t the case.

Now, as frustrated parents fight to simply find a solution, they are calling for a public meeting to “put the right people in the right place at the same time” to argue it out.

Coun Lisa Mulherin, Leeds City Council’s executive member for children and families said discussions were ongoing over a permanent site and they have written to parents: “We have been meeting over a period of months with a group of parents in order to keep the wider group informed. We remain committed to working with the parents to secure school places for this September.”

The Fair Access group demonstrating at Leeds Civic Hall in 2015; they have threatened to go back to campaigning if progress is not made.

Fresh fears over new Leeds school's future as campaigners launch petition