City changes school priorities

Children from the Bradford district will be given priority over those from Leeds for a place at Ilkley Grammar School under proposed changes to school admissions.

Bradford Council wants to amend the priority areas for the oversubscribed school to help ensure pupils living within the Bradford district ward boundaries can gain places at the popular school, which has two priority areas for admission into year seven.

Currently priority area one goes into North Yorkshire which enables children living out of the Bradford district access to the school before those living in Addingham as they are likely to be closer to the school.

Under the proposals, this would remain the same but the boundary would change for priority area two – which covers Menston which is partly in Leeds' area – so that it ends at the Bradford district border with Leeds.

The new rules would not exclude children in this area from going to the school but they would rank lower in oversubscription criteria.

A report to be considered by Bradford Council's executive says: "In defining the priority area two boundary account would be taken of the ward boundaries between Leeds and Bradford.

"Students in these areas have easy access to Guiseley, St Mary's and Prince Henry's, all of which are significantly closer than Ilkley Grammar School. These areas fall within the Leeds boundary, Leeds local authority applies a closest distance criteria in its admissions policy."

It adds that most children in the current priority area two have not been admitted to Ilkley Grammar in recent years.

Bradford Council's executive has been recommended to approve the proposals for the 2010/2011 academic year at its next meeting on Tuesday.

They include increasing the admissions at Challenge College in Frizinghall from 150 to 160, from 30 to 60 at Horton Park Primary in Little Horton, from 45 to 60 at Swain House Primary and keeping the admission number at Menston Primary at 60.

Plans also include increasing the admissions at Ley Top Primary from 30 to 45.

A revised priority for Victoria Primary to cover a larger area of Keighley has also been suggested.

Coun Michael Kelly, the council's executive member for services to children and young people, said: "The plans are part of the council's annual monitoring and consultation on school places as part of the wider process of reviewing admissions and forward planning across the district.

"We are taking positive steps to ensure that school places are available for children and young people and this includes increasing the number of admissions at several schools."

Sue Colman, the assistant director for learning services, said Bradford was amending its practice in respect of waiting lists in line with the 2009 Admissions Code of Practice.

The Executive had also been recommended that parents of children born between April and August be given the option to apply for a place in reception for the year their child turns five to make sure pupils stay with peers of their age group.

The Yorkshire Post reported last year how residents in Addingham were left outraged after 10 pupils from the village were struggled to get into Ilkley Grammar School despite living within its catchment area.