New Leeds school places to be created

Sofia Desaraju, aged four, during protest rally over school places.
Sofia Desaraju, aged four, during protest rally over school places.
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CAMPAIGNERS who say they are living in a “school places blackhole” have welcomed an extra reception class being created at a Leeds primary.

Leeds City Council has announced this afternoon that 30 more reception places are being offered at Wigton Moor Primary for September.

The authority’s leader elect Coun Judith Blake said talks were also still ongoing with two other schools and she hoped to be able to announce more places in the near future .

It follows a high profile campaign by parents in North Leeds who have managed to raise the issue with both David Cameron and George Osborne during the General Election campaign..

More than 80 parents joined forces in Roundhay, Moortown and Alwoodley after missing out on any of their preferred local schools last month.

They say people living in their neighbourhoods had no chance of being able to send their child to a local school and have demanded more places and answers from Leeds City Council about why there was not more provision secured before National Offer Day in April.

Now the authority has announced that an extra 30 spaces are being provided at Wigton Moor.

Two weeks ago it secured an additional 30 places at Gledhow Primary as the school agreed to bring forward plans for the school to become a three-form entry. This had been due to take place in 2016.

Commenting on the new places at Wigton Moor campaigner Lucy Clement said: “This is a hugely welcomed and encouraging step forward towards many our families achieving one of their local choices of primary schools. We hope to hear more good news in the next few days so more may benefit.”

Campaigner Oliver Thorne added: “We are delighted about these extra places. This is very welcome news which will help some of the parents.

“However it is not enough on its own and it does not solve the problems in the system for future years.”

The parents’ campaign group formed on social media and made a big impact during the General Election campaign with both Cameron and Osborne fielding questions from parents.

Earlier this week Osborne’s office wrote to parents saying the Department for Education was to commission a study looking into how the council spent Government funds allocated to it to provide extra places.

Announcing the new places Coun Blake said: “As we made clear after the national primary offer day we are committed to continuing to work with the parents of the children affected and significant progress has been made to date. We are pleased to announce that we have been able to agree a package of measures with Wigton Moor Primary to create 30 more reception places for September 2015. However there is still more to do and conversations are still ongoing with two further schools and we hope to be able to announce more additional places in the near future.

“We will start filling these new places from the waiting lists as soon as possible and expect to be able to start letting parents know if they have been allocated a new place later next week.”

Full story in tomorrow’s Yorkshire Evening Post.