Solution sought for shortage of school places

The issue around a shortage of school places has drawn protests in Leeds
The issue around a shortage of school places has drawn protests in Leeds

A step forward could be made in coming days to ease a critical shortage of school places in north Leeds after years of wrangling.

The debate over what can be done to ease the city’s ‘black hole’ of primary places has caused much consternation, with parents protesting at delays in decisions and proposals put forward.

A consultation launched last year on plans to create a through school, doubling intake for primary pupils, was put on hold in February amid concerns over access and safeguarding.

Now, as the results are aired over a second consultation, the city’s executive is to be asked whether to publish a statutory notice - a formal step in the consultation process, before an outcome will be reported back to the executive board for a final decision later.

A Leeds City Council spokesperson said: “Following extensive engagement with families in north Leeds we are continuing to bring forward plans to provide the much needed additional school places in the area. The statutory notice phase of consultation is another chance for people to contribute to the discussion on these proposals.

“Since 2009 the Council has provided over 12,000 additional school places across the city to meet increasing need and we will continue to work in partnership with schools and their communities to provide good educational outcomes for children.”

Initial plans for the area would have seen a through school created, joining Allerton Grange School and Moor Allerton Primary, and doubling the number of primary places from 60 to 120. The current option seeks to expand the primary from 420 to 630 pupils, with admissions rising from 60 to 90 from September.

The consultation, carried out from the end of March to May, received 135 responses, with 71 in support of the scheme.

Some parents, however, argue this isn’t the answer to the area’s crisis.

Parent Damian Nicholls, of the North Leeds Primary School Action Group, said it could take up to 40 minutes for a child to walk in the area to walk to the proposed school, a challenge made worse in wintry weather of snow and rain.

“It’s a flawed solution,” he said. “I’m sure it will get approved - but I think it will be very poor for local families. It is not the best solution for our area.”

A decision is to be made on Thursday.