A popular secondary school in north Leeds has launched a consultation to amend its admissions policy - raising fears that pupils at a nearby primary school could be forced to go elsewhere.
Governors at Prince Henry’s Grammar School in Otley are consulting on a proposal to amend its admissions criteria to include a preference to students attending a named feeder primary school, Bramhope Primary School, through the creation of a multi-academy trust (MAT).
The move has sparked concern that nearby Pool-in-Wharfedale CE Primary School could find pupils living just outside Prince Henry’s catchment area, or ‘polygon’, losing out to the Bramhope children, despite living closer.
Governors at the Pool primary school have written to parents to say they are “extremely concerned” about the admissions consultation and encouraged the community to submit their views to Prince Henry’s.
Coun Barry Anderson (Cons, Adel & Wharfedale) said the polygon around Pool doesn’t take into account new housing built a number of years ago: “[Pupils there] still currently qualify by being closer to the school than Bramhope but if Bamhope joined the MAT then they will get precedence over Pool children.
“I would like to see Prince Henry’s reviewing its polygon. That should be number one priority, rather than giving preference to anyone else.”
North West Leeds MP Alex Sobel (Lab) said: “I am deeply concerned by this decision to alter the admissions policy at Prince Henry’s. Having met with Pool CE Primary School, I can reflect their concern that this policy is going to affect their current pupils who live just outside the closest school area.
“Bramhope Primary School is 4.5 miles away from Prince Henry’s and in some parts of Bramhope, Prince Henry’s is their fourth nearest school. Children living on Pool Bank New Road, for example, are only 3.5 miles away from Prince Henry’s and will be placed in the lowest category for admissions.
“What’s more, in the results driven modern education culture, there are clear benefits for Prince Henry’s in including children from a higher socio-economic background. Whilst we accept the benefit to them and to the Bramhope pupils that wish to attend Prince Henry’s, it is to the detriment of pupils that fall outside of this criteria and to the other, much closer secondary school who currently has Bramhope in its catchment.”
Prince Henry’s headteacher Janet Sheriff said: “We understand the anxieties of parents trying to secure a place at a good secondary school for their child. The consultation is an opportunity for Governors to hear the views of people in the community before they make their decision about the over-subscription criteria. We would urge everyone to make their views known through the consultation email address.”
Steve Walker, Leeds City Council’s director of Children and Families, said: “We are aware of concerns which have been raised by parents of pupils at Pool-in-Wharfedale CE Primary regarding a proposal by Prince Henry’s Grammar School to change their admissions policy for the 2020/21 academic year.
“The local authority is not responsible for determining the admissions policy for any academy, foundation trust or free school. These schools determine their own admissions policies.
“However, Leeds City Council is aware of the consultation and will be responding to it. I would also encourage parents to respond directly to the consultation to express any concerns they have. We would expect that all views expressed during the consultation will be taken into consideration before any final admission policy is determined by the school.”
To take part in the consultation email: firstname.lastname@example.org.