A new report has highlighted the efforts being made by council bosses in Leeds to help children get into the school that suits them best.
The report, compiled for a meeting of Leeds City Council’s executive board tomorrow, says 84 per cent of local children won a place at their preferred secondary school for the start of the current academic year.
Around the same proportion of youngsters were allocated a place at their preferred primary school.
The report notes that the percentage of successful first preference allocations in the city remains “consistent”, despite a rising number of applications for school places.
However, it also flags up concerns that the opening of more free schools could cause problems for the current system.
Free schools can be founded by parents, teachers, charities, businesses, universities, trusts and religious or voluntary groups.
They are funded directly by the Government and, as such, are effectively beyond the control of their local authority.
The executive board report raises the prospect of parents whose children have already been allocated places at a ‘council-run’ school instead deciding they want to switch to a free school at the 11th hour if it becomes clear that one is opening in their area.
The report says: “It is of concern that where larger free schools are seeking to open, for example secondary schools offering 200 places a year, that this will cause significant disruption late in summer term.
“The ability of the local authority to plan effectively for the number of places it commissions will be challenging.
“As there are three opportunities for free schools to submit bids each year it is likely that this will continue to be difficult to manage effectively.”
Leeds’s first wave of free schools includes the Leeds Jewish Free School, in Alwoodley.
Jewish families in Leeds who want their children to have a faith-based secondary education have until now had to send them on long daily round trips to places such as Manchester.