'˜Be sensible' plea to Leeds parents over primary school choices

Educational leaders are urging parents to be 'aspirational but sensible' when making their selections for primary school place preferences for their children.

Friday, 18th March 2016, 10:13 am
Updated Friday, 18th March 2016, 10:21 am
Councillor Lucinda Yeadon

Families in Leeds can apply for places in five ‘preferred option’ schools anywhere in the city, but one of those must be their nearest school.

Although there are no guarantees, most children are placed in one of their five selected schools.

Last year, 85 per cent of Leeds primary school applicants were offered their first preference school and 93 per cent one of their top five.

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However applications received are not always realistic, with extreme examples including people putting the same school down five times.

Education bosses defend parents’ right to choose, and say they want to be “reasonable” to everyone, but “some parents ask for things that are never going to happen”.

Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, executive board member for childrens’s services, said; “We understand that many parents have a particular desired school in mind but we would always advise parents to be aspirational but sensible when making their applications for primary school places.

“Always read the requirements and make use of all five preferences to get the best chance of being offered a preferred school.

“Only listing one school or putting the same school five times does not increase the chances of being offered it.”

Headteacher Kellie Halliday said she “absolutely wholeheartedly” agrees that parents should be encouraged to make sensible choices.

She said additional factors like the sibling rule further complicate matters, and make schools’ job more difficult.

“All children are entitled to a good education,” she said. “But this falls down because you have families travelling up and down the city; because parents think some schools are better than others, and because people are choosing the social groups that they would like their children to socialise with. And I think that’s a real challenge for us.”

The YEP reported yesterday that demand for primary school places in the city has hit a 15 year high and, a month before allocations are announced, 750 extra places for this year are still being finalised.

The emergence of new high-pressure “hotspots” for school places has not been ruled out.