Leeds education chiefs ‘working hard to end primary schools places crisis’

Melissa Stowe with children Olivia Sheard. aged 4, and Daisy Sheard, aged 8 months.
Melissa Stowe with children Olivia Sheard. aged 4, and Daisy Sheard, aged 8 months.
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determined education bosses in Leeds are forging ahead with a major plan to plug the city’s massive primary school places shortfall.

Latest figures obtained by the YEP reveal that Leeds city council education chiefs are not resting on their laurels in the wake of an estimated shortage of 4,000 primary school places in the city by 2016.

Evie Wilkinson

Evie Wilkinson

A raft of expansion programmes rushed through this year have seen 3,101 places created in 16 schools.

These are made up of 443 new places per year group across all the schools.

Eight of the building programmes are already under way, and will see new places being available for the September 2014 intake.

A further five schools will open up their new classes by next September, and the final three will be available by September 2016.

Nicola Barker and daughter Aleesha, six.

Nicola Barker and daughter Aleesha, six.

The city has also created 447 temporary primary school places for September 2014 to meet the peak in the birth rate.

The news will be welcomed by parents who have seen others struggling to get their children into their preferred schools.

The YEP has reported the cases of several desperate parents who failed to be allocated slots in their nearest schools for the new school year starting this September

We reported yesterday that one mum, Melissa Stowe, was facing taking TWELVE buses a day to get her four year old daughter Olivia to school and back every day. This is because her nearest primary school in Methley is massively oversubscribed. It is just 10 minutes’ walk from her home.

We also reported last week that special needs child Evie Wilkinson, four, will be forced to leave her house at 6am every morning to catch the first of two buses to school, after she failed to get a place at her nearest suitable school. She also lives in Methley, an area council chiefs admit is a real pressure point.

Another worried parent, Nicola Barker, has been forced to home school her six year old daughter Aleesha for a year because all three of her local primaries in Halton Moor are full. Aleesha cannot even get a place at the school attended by both her siblings.

Council bosses have admitted there are massive pressures on the city’s school places, and they say these are compounded partly by Government policy, which will only allow new schools to be built if they are academies or free schools directly funded by Whitehall, and therefore out of local council control.

Leeds has four such schools being planned or already being built.

These include Lane End Primary, on the site of the former South Leeds Sports Centre, which will open on a temporary site in September while building work is completed. It will eventually have 60 places per year group.

The Nightingale Academy in Harehills is also opening later this year this year with 60 primary school places.

The Temple Newsam Halton Trust Free School, which will have 60 primary and 120 secondary places, has been approved by the Department of Education and the junior school element could open by next September.

There are also currently dozens of places available at three already open but undersubscribed primary free schools in Leeds - 17 spaces at the Sikh ethos Khalsa Science Academy, 16 at the Leeds Jewish Free School and eight at nearby Brodetsky school.

Date: 11th November 2017. 'Picture James Hardisty. The 'Leeds Grand Quarte in New briggate. Pictured The Howard Assembly Room at Opera North.

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