No repeat of ‘places blackhole’ in North Leeds

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CAMPAIGNERS in part of the city blighted by a shortage of school places last year have welcomed better news as National Offer Day arrived.

There was no repeat of the controversy in Roundhay and Alwoodley today as parents discovered where their children had been allocated for the reception year starting in September.

Leeds City Council announced increases in the number of pupils getting their first choice school - despite facing the largest year group - of more than 10,000 pupils - the city has seen for the past 15 years.

Eighty seven per cent of applicants were given a place at their first preference primary for 2016/17 up two per cent on last year. However the figure of 13 per cent of parents missing out on their first choice was still the highest in the Yorkshire region - along with Hull

Last year the Fair Access group was formed in North Leeds after more than 80 parents missed out on any of their chosen schools. A high profile campaign including a rally and questions being put to the Prime Minister David Cameron followed. Leeds City Council was then able to secure 90 more places at three primaries after national offer day. There was no repeat of this drama today.

Campaigner Lucy Clement, who was one of the original parents affected last year said: “It is definitely a much happier Roundhay today. I think it is because the council has pro-actively secured the extra places needed. Last year places were found but it was done reactively after National Offer Day.”

Fellow campaigner Ian Dowd told The Yorkshire Evening Post that the extra bulge class that had been taken on by Talbot Primary had made a big difference this year.

He said: “The important thing about bulge classes is that they happen in the right place and that is definitely what has happened with Talbot this year. Its completely different to last year. Nobody has mentioned a places blackhole today.”

However he said that the bulge classes in 2015 and 2016 would only provide a temporary solution and that a long-term answer was still needed in the north of the city.

Some of the campaigners involved in the Fair Access Group have submitted a bid to open a primary free school in Roundhay to open next year.

This bid has been given initial approval from the Department for Education but a site for Roundhay Park Primary has not yet been confirmed.

WAITING LISTS

PARENTS or carers who are unhappy with their child’s allocation can go on waiting lists for other primary schools.

Leeds City Council said places will begin to be offered from waiting lists in May.

The council said any parents wishing to be considered in the process by must return their requests to the authority by April 30.

Anyone who has not applied should contact 0113 222 4414 or email the council at: education.admissions@leeds.gov.uk.

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