Leeds primary schools expand classes to tackle shortage

Two primary schools in Leeds will take on 60 extra pupils in September to tackle the primary school places 'black hole' in the north of the city.

Moor Allerton Hall and Allerton C of E primary schools will each take on 30 extra pupils this year.

The new reception places agreed at Moor Allerton Hall and Allerton C of E primary schools will be ‘bulge’ cohorts, which means they will both admit 90 children in reception this year, rather than the current 60 – 30 extra pupils each.

Roundhay parent Katy Kelly, whose daughter has been allocated a place at Moor Allerton Hall in September, said the news was “bitter sweet”.

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She said: “I have mixed feelings about it. On one hand I feel we are supposed to feel really happy about the outcome, but on the other hand the council made this mess in the first place.

“I think the council is not out of the woods yet in terms of parent responses - not everyone is going to be happy with their allocations - but it has fulfilled its obligation to offer two good schools.”

The additional places will be allocated in line with the published admissions policy for Leeds community and voluntary-controlled schools.

Councillor Lisa Mulherin, executive member for children and families, said: “We are very grateful to all of the schools across the city, which have been open to negotiations around taking extra pupils in both the long and short term. “It is very pleasing that the learning community is working together with the local authority to ensure that we have enough good quality school places for children in city, to help us continue to tackle the increasing demand for school places in our growing city and in particular in this area of Leeds.”

Fears over free school timeline

The Roundhay area, dubbed the “black hole” of primary school places, has long faced a shortage and parents are relying on a new free school to tackle the problem.

Leeds City Council, the Education Funding Agency (EFA) and the school trust met with parents last month to discuss Roundhay Park Primary amid growing fears over its fate. The authority has now agreed to launch a consultation to gather public opinion on the four preferred sites. However, in a letter to the council’s leader this week, parents wrote: “We would like to understand how we go from selection of preferred site to children walking through the door at a September 2018 opening.”