TALKS are underway between schools and council bosses over creating hundreds of extra reception places to cope with an expected surge in four-year-olds starting school in the city next year.
Leeds City Council says it has to create the equivalent of 25 extra classes to meet the demand from September 2016.
And it has warned it is facing a shortfall of £69.5m in the funding it receives from the Government to do this. Reception places became a controversial issue in the city this year after some parents in Roundhay, Moortown and Alwoodley claimed they were living in a “blackhole” with no chance of getting into a local school. The Fair Access group was formed after more than 80 parents missed out on all of their preferred schools. After National Offer Day, in April, Leeds City Council was able to secure an extra 90 places at three schools which dealt with the issue this year. However the cohort starting school in 2016 is expected to be bigger than this year’s and the council has identified the need to create more than 700 places to meet citywide demand. The council is looking to create the equivalent of 25 extra reception classes - of 30 pupils across the city. Of these 20 new classes will need to be permanent. A new council report on the city’s Learning Places Programme, to be published today, shows that agreements have already been reached to provide the equivalent of four extra classes in areas including Armley, Beeston, Bramley. Meanwood, Middleton and Pudsey.
The report to the authority’s executive board also shows discussions or consultations are ongoing with schools in 21 areas about providing extra places. Coun Lucinda Yeadon, the executive member for children and families said: “We will be able to deliver these places -we have to do it.”