School places latest: Another Leeds primary agrees to take on extra class

Lucy Clement with other campaigners at the places rally.
Lucy Clement with other campaigners at the places rally.
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PARENTS who claim they are living in a places blackhole are waiting to discover if they have now got their child into one of their chosen schools after council bosses revealed another primary has agreed to take on an extra class.

Leeds City Council has announced that Highfield Primary will take on 30 more reception age pupils this September.

It follows news yesterday that Wigton Moor and earlier that Gledhow were also both expanding by a class of 30 after talks with the education authority.

A high profile parents campaign was launched last month after around 80 parents in Roundhay, Moortown and Alwoodley discovered they had missed out on places at their preferred schools despite applying to local primaries.

They claim their neighbourhoods were a “places blackhole” with people having no chance of being able to send their children into a local school.

However since last month’s offers were made 90 more reception places have been created by schools in the north of the city. During the general election campaign parents were able to put questions to both Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne about their situation.

And in the past week Mr Osborne’s office has told parents involved that the Department for Education (DfE) was to commission a study of how Leeds City Council spent funding given to it to provide extra places.

The DfE said Education Secretary Nicky Morgan also wanted to have talks with Leeds City Council about the situation.

However council leader elect Coun Judith Blake dismissed the suggestion that extra places had now been found because of Government pressure.

She said: “We have said from National Offer Day that we were committed to working with schools to finding a solution and that is what we are doing.”

She added: “Further to the expansion at Wigton Moor Primary School announced yesterday, we are pleased that a further 30 reception school places have now been approved at Highfield Primary School.

“This brings the total of additional reception places secured in the area to 90, and we want to thank the headteachers, staff and governors at those three schools for their support in working with us to address this urgent problem. We are continuing to progress negotiations with other local schools and will continue our work to determine a longer term solution for the demand pressures in the area.””

She said also said that the council would welcome the chance for talks with Government about the impact its policy and funding was having on school place planning in Leeds. She said the council had been seeking talks with Ministers and the DfE on these issues for months.

Earlier this week parents staged a rally outside Civic Hall to campaign for more places as they submitted their appeals against their original school allocations.

Now campaigners will hope such appeal hearings will not be necessary if the extra places announced in the past 24 hours allow them to get their child into one of the schools they had originally chosen.