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Leeds mum’s 12 buses a day to get daughter to school and back

BUS WOES: Melissa Stowe with children Olivia Sheard, four, and Daisy, eight months, by the bus stop in Methley. PIC: Simon Hulme

BUS WOES: Melissa Stowe with children Olivia Sheard, four, and Daisy, eight months, by the bus stop in Methley. PIC: Simon Hulme

A Leeds mum faces having to take TWELVE buses a day - and a double round trip totalling four hours - to ensure her young daughter gets to school and back.

Melissa Stowe, 22, from Methley, will have to take three buses to drop daughter Olivia, four, to her new school in Allerton Bywater from September, and three buses to come back.

She will have to repeat the exhausting two-hour round trip - along with eight month old baby Daisy and her pram - when she collects Olivia at the end of the day.

Miss Stowe had applied to get Olivia into the reception class at her nearest school in Methley, which is just 10 minutes walk from the family’s home, but it is massively oversubscribed and she lost an appeal. Olivia cannot get in, even though she is already at the nursery there.

The school where Olivia has been offered a place is 4.7 miles away by road, but school places are allocated ‘as the crow flies’.

Neither Miss Stowe or her partner James, 24, drive. Miss Stowe also cares for her disabled mum, which makes her situation even more difficult.

“We did two test runs of the journey and Olivia was completely exhausted,” Miss Stowe said. “We will be setting off just after my partner leaves for work every morning, but he will actually get home before us. It’s crazy.”

Miss Stowe is the latest among a string of desperate parents who contacted the YEP after failing to be allocated slots in their nearest or chosen schools for the new school year starting this September.

While city education bosses insist every child in the city does have an allocated school place, they admit they are “acutely aware of the pressure” on spaces.

Paul Brennan, Leeds City Council’s deputy director of children’s services, said: “We are aware that a number of parents in Methley have expressed concerns about securing places at local schools and we are working hard to address this.

“This year has seen us managing an unusually high demand for places in the area which we anticipate will fall next year. We will continue to talk to local schools about possible expansion and will do all we can to support parents to get places in a good school as close as possible to their home.

“National legislation, which limits early years class sizes to no more than 30 pupils, also means that school place appeals can only be granted under exceptional circumstances.”

He stressed the importance of parents completing their applications on time as this is “vital” in helping secure places at preferred schools.

PRESSURE ON SCHOOLS

Miss Stowe also expressed concern that a major new 180-house development planned for Methley will add additional strain to school places in the area.

However the council said no decision has yet been made regarding planning permission for the new scheme at Station Road, and discussions are ongoing with the developers to ensure full community contributions from the developer regarding education provision are secured.

Leeds faces a potential shortfall of more than 4,000 primary school places within three years.

 

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