YEP Says, December 17: Pressure on school places a legacy of short-sighted policy

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...and Santa’s special visit means the world

THE school population always will and always has fluctuated. But fears that education chiefs in Leeds were being short-sighted when they closed a raft of primary schools have been borne out.

The closures in the early Noughties came just as birthrates were rising, a continuing trend which MPs themselves say has been fuelled by “mass immigration”. The Cross Party Group on Balanced Migration said the number of births to foreign mothers increased by 64 per cent in just eight years.

This has served to ramp up the pressure on primary school places in several parts of the country, including Leeds. The city now faces a potential shortfall of more than 4,000 early years school slots within three years.

It is a situation that has created an enormous amount of stress for parents who have no idea if their child will get a place at their local school – even if they virtually live on the doorstep.

The expansion of schools such as Gledhow Primary will alleviate some of this pressure, but there will still be some families living in “black holes” who cannot get into a school near to where they live. There is also the question of whether schools of this size can retain their character and concerns that some children will feel overwhelmed.

Perhaps if those schools that were closed had been kept in a decent state of repair they could now be reopened, saving a great deal of time, money and angst.

Santa’s special visit means the world

CHRISTMAS is a time for spreading joy – and few deserve a bit of extra festive happiness than those youngsters who attend Martin House Hospice.

So it was a day to remember when Santa dropped in by helicopter to hand out some early Christmas presents.

The visit, which is now an annual fixture, is especially important become some of the children are too poorly or find it difficult to see Santa in his grotto.

So full credit to aviation firm Multiflight for bringing Santa to them so that they and their families can experience the true magic and excitement of Christmas.