Boost for Leeds school places shortfall

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TWO school expansion plans to deal with shortages of places in west and north Leeds are expected to get the green light from senior councillors later this week.

Park Spring Primary School, in Swinnow, is to go up from a capacity of 315 pupils to 420 pupils.

Meanwhile Roundhay School will expand from 1,250 pupils to 1,500 pupils in years seven to 11.

Two reports laying out the plans are expected to be rubber-stamped by Leeds City Council’s decision-making executive board at its meeting on Wednesday.

Park Spring Primary School has already taken temporary additional cohorts of children in 2014, and agreed to do the same in 2015 and 2016.

As part of the expansion, a new access point is expected to be created off Swinnow Lane to relieve traffic and parking pressure. There have been concerns raised about children’s safety - and potential issues with having two separate access points - and loss of space.

However the report laying out the expansion plan concludes: “On balance, the proposal remains strong. It addresses the need for school places in the area. The additional places are required to ensure the authority meets its legal requirement to ensure sufficiency of primary provision.”

Roundhay School is a through school and takes children from 4 to 18 years old.

The executive board will be considering proposals to increase the Year 7 cohort size from 250 to 300 following a consultation earlier in the year. In 2019 the first of the children from the primary phase at Roundhay School will transfer into Year 7 - the secondary phase.

Therefore the proposed change means the number of additional pupils admitted to the school in Year 7 will be 300 in 2017 and 2018, but will reduce to 240 in 2019 to take into account the pupils already on roll moving into the secondary phase in that year.

Leeds City Council is currently working with schools, residents and partners across the city in areas identified as needing additional places.

Since 2009, the authority has had an ongoing programme of primary school expansions in place, and now the rising demographic is beginning to impact on secondary schools across the city, especially in the inner north east and inner east areas of the city.

Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, executive board member for children’s services said: “Leeds is a successful, dynamic and growing city, which has made it an attractive proposition for families to move to.

“This rapid growth in the population has resulted in a much higher demand for primary school places and this will start to impact on secondary school places from September 2017.

“Our aim is for Leeds to be a child friendly city so we are especially ambitious to offer every child a place at one of their preferred schools.

“A great deal of work has already taken place to identify and deliver extra capacity around school places, and we continue to work with schools, residents and partners, to find innovative and appropriate solutions to meet this demand.”

The YEP reported earlier this year that council bosses had warned Leeds is facing a funding shortfall of more than £65 million in order to create the extra places needed in primary and secondary schools over the next three years.

After a decade of rising birth rates the city could see the numbers starting primary school reach a peak of more than 10,000 next September. And Leeds City Council officials believe they will need to create an extra four secondary schools over the next three years.