New school plea to tackle Leeds school places crisis

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PARENTS have warned that a critical shortage of classroom places has left pupils unable to get into their first choice primary schools in the wake of emergency plans which were enforced to tackle the education crisis in Leeds.

Campaigners who are pressing to address the “black hole” of primary places in the city have now urged other families to back a consultation for a new free school to provide a long-term solution.

Yesterday, on what is known as national offer day, figures revealed that 1,225 families in the city had missed out on their first option and 284 pupils did not get into any of their five preferences. It emerged that many parents in North Leeds, where an additional 90 ‘bulge’ places have been created, faced disappointment despite efforts to solve the ongoing crisis.

Lucy Clement, who is a member of the Fair Access campaign group, said the “sibling impact” from the bulge classes of 2015 was significant this year. The current admissions system in Leeds gives priority to siblings, however far away from the school they live, which means some families with their oldest or only child about to start school have missed out on a local place.

Mrs Clement said: “This is particularly the case in the Wigton Moor and Highfield catchment. Our children are now impacting on these areas.”

A new primary school has been approved for the area, but is yet to be built due to problems finding a suitable site.

Mrs Clement said: “We cannot continue to bulge at local primary schools at the expense of outdoor playing space and overcrowding indoor communal areas. In addition to this, bulges and permanent expansions, like at Gledhow, are expensive, and it would be a far more efficient use of public money to build a new school.”

Earlier this month Leeds City Council launched a consultation on four site options for the proposed 420-pupil Roundhay Park Primary. Mrs Clement said: “I want people to get behind the consultation.”