YEP Says, July 22: Olivia’s trek to get to school underlines scale of places crisis

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...and why Aiden’s perfect record is a recipe for success

THE daily travel regime of Melissa Stowe would stretch the patience of even the hardiest of commuters.

Leaving the house before many people are even out of bed, she catches the first of no fewer than three buses shortly before 7am – later repeating the entire journey in reverse in order to get back home again.

And all this simply to ensure that her daughter Olivia can get to school.

An extreme example perhaps, but this ludicrous arrangement is symptomatic of the problems facing parents right across Leeds due to a shortage of school places.

Squeezed out of her local primary school in Methley, despite it being just a 10-minute walk from her front door, four-year-old Olivia must make a near 10-mile journey each day.

A problem started by the failure of population predictions to keep pace with rising birth rates has been compounded by the expansion of the academy and free school programme, which has diverted funding from where it is most needed.

The planning of school places has always been a difficult juggling act, but in some places the balls have well and truly fallen to the floor. Faster and more focused funding for the expansion of schools in the worst affected areas, alongside money to build new ones, is now vital if the educational building blocks of a generation are not to be irrevocably undermined.

Aiden’s perfect record is a recipe for success

WHEN youngsters do manage to obtain a place at primary school, it is important that they seize it with both hands.

And that is exactly what Aiden Green has done in his five years at Victoria Primary School in East End Park, during which time he has not had a single day off.

Such conscientiousness has rightly been rewarded by the school with treats such as sledging trips to the Xscape indoor ski centre.

More importantly, however, Aiden has rewarded himself with a better chance of doing well at high school, getting a place at university, and perhaps even fulfilling his dream of becoming a doctor.

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