Parent-led free school in north Leeds won’t open next year after struggle to find a site

Fair Access campaigner Lucy Clement during a rally about school places in 2015.

Fair Access campaigner Lucy Clement during a rally about school places in 2015.

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A FREE school being set up by parents to solve the primary places crisis is North Leeds will not open next year as planned after they were unable to secure a permanent site.

The group behind Roundhay Park Primary said that three potential council-owned sites had been identified and that plans had been developed around a specific area of land in the last few months.

They said that as Leeds City Council had not granted permission for this site to be used, opening in September 2017 was now not achievable.

However the council said it had not ruled out this site but that the Government’s Education Funding Agency (EFA) had raised concerns about problems with it. The council said it was now looking at other sites.

The plan had been to open a two-form entry primary to help meet the need for places in North Leeds.

Gillian Hayward, the chair of trustees for the Fair Access Trust, said: “We are very disappointed to have to make this announcement. We are acutely aware of the need for more good school places in the Roundhay area, which Leeds City Council also recognise, and we will continue to pursue an alternative site with them.

“We realise this will raise many questions for those parents with children who are due to start school in September 2017 in this area; responsibility for providing school places remains with Leeds City Council. We would encourage parents to speak to their local councillor with concerns around this issue, and ask that they continue checking our website and social media channels for developments.”

Steve Walker, director of children’s services, at Leeds City Council said: “Leeds City Council has not ruled out the preferred site for Roundhay Park Primary School.

However, the EFA has expressed concerns about that site, and there are a number of planning issues relating to it, which may have delayed planning approval. Because of this we are looking again at sites that were ruled out earlier in the process to see if any of them might offer a better solution.

“We will continue to work with the Fair Access Trust and the EFA to make sure that a suitable site is found to enable the school to progress.“

The Roundhay Park Primary had been given the initial go ahead earlier this year to open in September 2017 by ministers.

The plan for the school had been developed after a parents’ campaign was launched in the Roundhay area who claimed they were living in a “school places blackhole.”

The Fair Access group formed after more than 80 parents said they missed out on all of their choices of primary school in 2015 despite opting for local schools.

The group said that the news about the delay comes despite the hard work of the trust and the Department for Education’s Education Funding Agency.

The Fair Access group launched a high profile campaign in 2015 after their children missed out on reception places at all the local schools of their choice.

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