Senior Leeds councillors have been discussing proposals to create more primary school places to meet the ever increasing demand across the city.
At today’s meeting of Leeds City Council’s executive board (15 February) members gave the go-ahead for a public consultation on the expansion of six primary schools, to help meet the pressure for more school places in Leeds. The board also approved a consultation to expand the city’s provision of education for children with behavioural, emotional and social difficulties.
At the same meeting the board also authorised spending £9.4 million to expand and rebuild Morley Newlands primary school.
These proposals are all part of an on-going city-wide school expansion programme which has been in place since 2009. Through this programme the council has already approved 830 new reception places since 2009, including two new primary schools, notices are being published on another 120 places, and an additional 98 places are subject to consultation
The increasing birth rate, along with people moving into the city, and cross-border movement between neighbouring authorities means there are still ongoing pressures the council must to address over the coming years. There is also the additional pressure of new housing developments which could see 70,000 new homes being built in the city between now and 2026.
The executive board approved public consultations on the following proposals:
• To expand Allerton Bywater primary school from 210 pupils to 420, with an increase in the admission number from 30 to 60;
• To expand Asquith primary school from 210 pupils to 420, with an increase in the admission number from 30 to 60;
• To expand St. Francis Catholic primary school, Morley, from a capacity of 154 pupils to 210, with an increase in the admission number from 22 to 30;
• To expand East Ardsley primary school from 315 pupils to 420 with an increase in the admission number from 45 to 60;
• To expand Robin Hood primary school from 315 pupils to 420 with an increase in the admission number from 45 to 60, and;
• To lower the age range of Hollybush primary school from 5 – 11 to 3 – 11.
If given the go ahead, each expansion would take place from September 2014. Solutions have already been explored with each school to put in place interim measures to meet the demand expected in September 2013.
The consultations on the school expansions will run from 25 February to 29 March 2013. The Hollybush proposal seeks to formalise arrangements of nursery provision which previously was managed by the council but since 2011 has been managed by the school – the consultation on this would end on 12 April 2012.
Councillor Judith Blake, executive board member responsible for children’s services said:
“The increased demand for primary school places means we have to reassess the size of certain schools to ensure there will be places available to every child.
“Before making these decisions we must for the views of the public to gauge opinion as well as consulting with head teachers and governors at the schools involved. These expansions will ensure that children in these areas of Leeds will have the best possible start to their learning.”
The executive board also agreed to invest £9.4 million on a new building at Morley Newlands primary school, which follows approval to expand the school to a maximum capacity of 630 pupils in May 2012. The new school is to be built on the existing playing fields to allow the existing school to continue to operate whilst the building work takes place. The new school building is expected to be ready for September 2014.
In addition to the provision of primary school places, Leeds City Council has also been assessing whether there are enough places for children who have significant behavioural, emotional and social difficulties (BESD). Demographic changes, and an increase in children being assessed as having BESD needs, means Leeds needs more specialist places for these children.
In order to meet these needs, the executive board has approved two consultations. The first to expand the capacity of the BESD specialist inclusive learning centre from 150 pupils to 230, and the second to expand the North East Specialist Inclusive Learning Centre (Oakwood Lane) BESD provision from 30 pupils to 50 pupils, with effect from January 2014.
Cllr Blake added:
“It is vital we look at how we can improve the education provision for children with behavioural, emotional and social difficulties to help improve their attainment, attendance and progress. Through an expanded BESD service, we would be able to offer a personalised programme of learning for each child.”
For media enquiries, please contact:
Emma Whittell, Leeds City Council press office, on (0113) 2474713