Cameron makes Leeds school places pledge

THE Prime Minister has promised to investigate the city’s school places crisis after he was challenged by a Leeds mum today.

By James Reed, Political Reporter
Friday, 1st May 2015, 12:41 pm
David Cameron speaks to Asda workers in Leeds today
David Cameron speaks to Asda workers in Leeds today

David Cameron was put on the spot by a member of Asda staff who is among a group parents whose children have been allocated to a Sikh-ethos free school miles away from their homes because they cannot get into their nearest schools.

The Prime Minister promised to have a “really good look” into her case adding: “There is an issue of needing more good school places.

“What we’ve done is set aside £7bn in the next Parliament to go on investing in primary and secondary schools to build more.

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David Cameron speaks to Asda workers in Leeds today

“Some of those will be built by local authorities, by academies and some of them, yes, will be free schools and I’ve seen here in Yorkshire examples of free schools that have come along, established themselves in the state sector, they are free to the people who use them, and provide a great education.”

The YEP revealed last month that more than 20 families had been allocated places at the Khalsa Science Academy despite not listing it among their preferences.

The places have been given to children in North Leeds on the basis that the school should be moving to a site in Alwoodley.

But delays mean it will still be at its temporary site several miles away in Chapeltown when the school year begins in September.

Critics have argued free schools - which are set up by parents or other groups with state funding - take away money which could be used to provide places where they are needed.

Speaking after the event, the Prime Minister said: “First of all, free schools don’t take money away from other schools, they are separately funded. But also, free schools are overwhelmingly being built in areas where there is a shortage of places.

“I would argue even where a free school is built elsewhere it demonstrates that parents aren’t happen with the education provision they are getting and they want a choice of more good schools.

“Frankly, some choice and innovation and competition works in every other avenue of life, I think it works in education too.”

He added: “What I want for parents is what I want for my own children which is a place at a good or outstanding school and there are a million more nationwide than there were five years ago but we need to go further and free schools are part of that.”