Councillors demand urgent changes after children living 'across the road' from Allerton High School are not offered Year 7 places

Alwoodley Councillors have launched a petition after 'children living across the road' from Allerton High School were not offered a Year 7 place - despite places being based on distance.

Tuesday, 2nd March 2021, 5:20 pm
Allerton High School, King Lane, Leeds

Secondary School Offer Day has caused frustration among some Alwoodley residents and councillors after children living across the road from Allerton High School were not offered places there.

Year 7 secondary school places are offered based on distance and the council's new system splits the school's catchment into two geographic zones.

But according to an Alwoodley councillor, no children from Zone 2 - which is just across the road from Allerton High School - were offered a place there.

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Zone 1 and Zone too explained (photo: Leeds City Council)

Councillor Dan Cohen (Conservative, Alwoodley Ward) said: “Council officers were very clear that most children living in Zone 2 would continue to get offers for Allerton High School, but this has not happened.

"The administration has clearly got this wrong and it needs to be addressed urgently.

“I have been saying for many months now, tinkering with Allerton High’s admission policy is not the answer. Allerton High is one of the best schools in the North of England.

"The school needs to be allowed to expand and let more young people benefit from its first class education.”

The councillor also understands that some children living in Zone 1 hadn't received an offer of a place and have continued to receive an offer of schools many miles away - which was the problem he says the new policy was brought in to address.

Cllr Cohen was told in an email from council officers that of those in Zone 2 who were not offered a place at Allerton High School or any other preference school, 11 placements were made 'within a reasonable distance' apart from one child, who is over 2.5 miles away.

The email said: "The cut off for Offer Day 2021 is 0.856 miles for those in Zone 1. The cut off for Offer Day 2020 is 0.764 miles for those in the catchment area.

"The cut off for 2020 meant that everyone living 0.764 miles or closer got a place at the school as there were no zones.

"For 2021 only those in zone 1 at 0.856 or closer got a place – as discussed no zone 2 children got in on distance.

"Of those in Zone 2 who did not get a place at Allerton High or at any other preference school, 11 placements were made all within a reasonable distance apart from one which is over 2.5 miles.

"As noted, applications were higher this year compared to last year. For 2020 there were 244 children living in catchment who applied for places.

"January 2020 census indicated that there were 264 children living nearest Allerton High whom we expected to apply for places for 2021 however this has increased to 283."

Councillor Cohen has now launched a petition to the Director of Children and Families at Leeds City Council to expand Allerton High School.

He is asking for the school to be made bigger to 'serve more Alwoodley families and educate more young people'.

The councillor also added in his petition note that 'young people on the school's doorstep had not been offered places despite council officers assuring residents that most would continue to receive offers of places' at the school.

Mum-of-four Paige Jones has echoed Councillor Cohen's concerns after her son was offered a place at Lawnswood School despite her living in Zone 2 - virtually opposite Allerton High.

Paige said: "I just don't understand how anyone can expect a child to go to a school that is a number of miles away when there's no direct bus route and the walk there is lonely and scary, especially when there is one they could safely get to across the road.

"I've got three other children to drop off at schools and nurseries and I have to be at work before 9am - so if our appeal is unsuccessful I'll have to reduce my working hours to take my son to Lawnswood.

"I don't think we have any chance of winning the appeal because it's not on medical grounds but it still just doesn't seem right.

"Everyone around here has opposed the change and they didn't even make more access to other schools, such as bus routes, for the children the change was going to affect.

"I hope the petition is successful mainly for future parents now so that they don't have to go through this stress."

The full petition is as follows: "Allerton High School is an Ofsted Outstanding school in the heart of Alwoodley. It is a very popular school, however it doesn’t have sufficient places to accommodate the young people in its catchment. The school would very much like to expand to serve more Alwoodley families and educate more of our young people. Local ward councillors have been calling for the school to expand for the past year.

"Following a change to its admissions policy, young people on the schools doorstep have not been offered places for the coming academic year. This was despite council officers assuring residents that most would continue to receive offers of places at Allerton High School.

"As a community we are calling on the Council to, urgently, expand Allerton High Schools PAN and to do so to now, to ensure this year's cohort are able to attend their local school, as well as future years.

"The community, the school and ward councillors all know this is the only way to resolve the high school places crisis in this part of Leeds. It can be delivered efficiently and effectively and if the council moves at great speed can remedy the issues caused this year."

It has so far received 432 signatures out of a targeted 500, with many supporters wanting families who live closest to the school to be given priority.

One supporter said: "Allerton High is the nearest school for some of my family, just a few minutes walk, but will be expected to go to a school much further away. Surely the catchment area should be those closest to the school?"

Another is not happy at only living 'two minutes' away from the school but their daughter has still been allocated a different one: "I live 2mins away yet my daughter has been allocated Lawnswood. Not happy."

How does Leeds Council allocate Year 7 school places?

According to figures published on the Leeds City Council website, there were 220 admission places for Allerton High School for the academic year September 2021 to July 2022, and the admissions policy summary is published as follows:

1ai). Looked after or previously looked after children

1aii). Children adopted from state care

1b). Children with exceptional needs that can only be met at the specific school

2. Children who have siblings who go to this school

3. Children living in the school’s catchment area

a) children in zone one

b) children in zone two

4. Children who live outside the catchment area

Allerton High School is a secondary school on King Lane in North Leeds which educates 1,400 children from aged 11 to 18.