Group of 50 Leeds parents furious after children allocated schools by Leeds Council 'more than ONE HOUR bus ride' from home
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Wayne Dixon is spearheading a group of parents from South Leeds who have been left in disarray after discovering around 30 children would need to travel for over an hour each morning on public transport to reach their given school.
The schools allocated are in Seacroft and Halton Moor areas - a journey which Wayne said could take up to an hour to reach plus a 15 minute walk for the 11 and 12 year old pupils.
Wayne said many of the children had never walked to primary school alone, or had "ever even stepped foot" in Seacroft or Halton Moor.
Wayne added: "This time of year should be an exciting time of year where children leaving Primary Schools look to their future and a new era in their lives, but for many it’s become a nightmare."
A Leeds City Council spokesman told the Yorkshire Evening Post the council is doing "everything it can to bring about solutions" despite the "significant ongoing financial challenges and increasing demand for school places".
The council said there is a "particular shortage of places in the south of the city" and said parents "are entitled to appeal against any refused application".
Overall, the number of children who have been offered their first preference school is the "highest it has ever been in Leeds this year", the council added.
One parent who has been affected by the allocation is Charlotte Wharton.
Her son has been given the Bishop Young Church of England Academy - over an hour travel on public transport from her home.
The school has been taken over by the Abbey Multi-Academy Trust.
It was rated ‘Inadequate’ by Ofsted in 2015 and subsequently closed while named the David Young Academy.
Charlotte said: “There are so many factors to take into consideration on how little thought has been taken when putting our children in this situation.
"In the long run this will have a knock on affect academically especially closer to GCSEs, they won’t be able to stay behind for extra curriculum activities due to the distance or even GCSE booster classes nearer the time.
"This will in turn will affect employment further down the line and possibly further education.
"My mind is so confused.
"How Leeds Council can justify what they have done and with the amount of people affected.
"The question is how will they resolve this?"
The group - named Not My School - are calling for a string of changes.
More than 100 members have joined the group in just 48 hours since school places were allocated.
The group is calling for:
- A re-assessment of the allocation criteria.
- A re-assessment/ alignment of the school clusters (this is where certain primary schools feed into certain High Schools).
- A minimum travel time for kids.
- A review of Safeguarding policies for children travelling to School.
Wayne Dixon who is heading up the group: “Most of our parents have appealed their place and we want any more parents suffering to join our campaign group on Facebook.
"Leeds City Council really need to take responsibility here and admit they have got this wrong."
A Leeds City Council spokesman said: “Despite the significant ongoing financial challenges and increasing demand for school places, the council continues to do everything it can to bring about solutions to these issues and to offer all children in the city the best possible conditions to learn.
“Overall, the number of children who have been offered their first preference school is the highest it has ever been in Leeds this year. We wish this was the case for all families, but we know that it is not and we understand and recognise the concerns of these parents.
“There is a particular shortage of places in the south of the city where, due to circumstances out of our control, the Lawrence Calvert Free School will be unable to open its doors in September 2020.
"This had a significant impact on the ability to allocate local places to students living in the area.
“Leeds City Council has had extensive discussions with all of the local schools in efforts to resolve this difficult situation and we will continue to do so.
"The schools have provided additional places to mitigate the impact of the delayed opening where possible, but it is becoming increasingly difficult for them to do this.
“Parents are entitled to appeal against any refused application. Information on how to do this can be found at: https://www.leeds.gov.uk/residents/children-families-and-carers/schools-and-learning/school-places/admissions-appeals”