Parents ‘in shock’ over proposal to tackle school places shortage

The 'Save Our School' banner at Moor Allerton Hall Primary School.' 'Picture Jonathan Gawthorpe.
The 'Save Our School' banner at Moor Allerton Hall Primary School.' 'Picture Jonathan Gawthorpe.
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parents have launched a campaign against a new plan to transform a primary and secondary into an “all-through” school to address a places “black hole” in Yorkshire’s biggest city.

Earlier this month Leeds City Council unveiled its proposal, which would create an additional 60 new reception places each year from 2018, in a move that would replace plans for a new free school in the Roundhay area.

The authority launched a consultation on proposals to make Moor Allerton Hall Primary School and the nearby Allerton Grange School an all-through school on one combined site, incorporating an underused IT centre.

But after attending a public drop-in at the primary school on Thursday night, parents claim they are still in the dark.

Sarah Thornton, who has a son in Year 3, said: “We are totally in shock to be honest. We are really worried. To say the meeting was an omnishambles is the understatement of the year. No-one was able to give us any answers.

“There are so many points to make. It is so badly thought out. Our children are all really upset. It has been dropped on us like a bombshell.”

Following last week’s announcement, parents launched a ‘Save Moor Allerton Hall Primary School’ Facebook group and a ‘Save our School’ banner has been tied to the school gates. There are also plans to launch a petition.

Ms Thornton said: “Moor Allerton Hall is a really nurturing environment. It is like a gold standard of what a school should look like. But we feel like we are being treated like the poor relation.

“The parents in the black hole area, who are campaigning for a free school, have had the opportunity to apply for Moor Allerton Hall in the past, but it doesn’t fulfill their requirements. This hasn’t changed.”

Ms Thornton said traffic and air pollution was already a problem and this could be made worse by increasing the primary to a four-form entry school.

She added: “A through-school doesn’t work for us. People are worried about having younger siblings on two different sites and we are worried about smaller children with teenagers. It’s like putting sheep in with lions.”

Staff are also unhappy about the proposals, according to Ms Thornton, and there are fears the much-loved headteacher will be replaced by a ‘superhead’.

“It absolutely stinks and we are not happy. We need our voices to be heard,” she said.

The latest consultation comes after the Government’s Education and Skills Funding Agency, the body that had been in charge of Roundhay Park Primary School, handed responsibility over to the local authority to move the project forward itself.

Andrew Eastwood, the council’s chief officer for learning improvement, said: “This is a consultation and we will be listening to the concerns of parents at Moor Allerton Hall as part of that process.

“I had some very good conversations with parents who attended the initial drop-in session and look forward to having further dialogue in the coming weeks.

“Hearing the issues and talking about the options are why we have these events.

“The more the community can do to help us shape and develop our proposals to meet the need for additional school places in the Roundhay area, the better.”