Warning as Leeds pupils crammed into class

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SCHOOL teachers face a classroom crisis as pupil numbers boom.

Across the city primary schools are facing a growing problem as they seek to make way for more and more pupils.

Over the last four years 
Leeds has seen a 313 per cent increase in the number of 
pupils attending classrooms above the previous 30-pupil legal limit.

The Labour Party has pointed to Government figures which it says shows that in one Leeds school alone, Greenhill Primary, there was at one point 63 pupils in one class.

One head teacher has now called for councils to once again be given the power to open new schools where needed.

Stephen Watkins, head teacher at Mill Field Primary School in Leeds, said he refused to take pupils if it would push classroom sizes above 30.

Mr Watkins said he felt the issue must be addressed at a national level, calling for a change to rules which mean local authorities such as Leeds are responsible for admissions policy but lost the power to build new schools.

He said: “We are getting bigger and bigger primary schools now, there are some with 600 pupils in them, and as a head teacher of 30 years I think that is too big.

“I remember when I had a school with 210 pupils, I knew every child’s name and their parents.

“Here we have 350 and you can just about cope with that, it’s about the most you can do to know all the families.

“If you have 600 pupil-schools you just can’t know them all. That would be about 90 children in a reception class, the equivalent of three schools worth.

“There’s no way you can have the relationship you need there.”

Leeds North East MP Fabian Hamilton said it showed the Government had not stood by its promise to protect education.

He added: “Sadly, it is not the Prime Minister or his Government who will suffer as a result of these broken promises but the thousands of young children whose educational opportunities will be reduced as a result of this failure—often those in the most deprived parts of our country who never had much opportunity to start with.

“The Secretary of State should hang her head in shame at the way in which these children have been let down by a Government who promised so much and have delivered so little.”

Education Minister Nick Gibb denied the claims, saying: “Action has been taken by this Government to create more good school places and local authorities are delivering. We have already seen an increase of 260,000 school places between 2010 and 2013, including 212,000 primary places, with more than 300,000 in the pipeline.”

Holy Family Catholic Primary teacher Joanne Nicholson with Harry Boutell, Julia Filipiak and Ava Harley.

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