South Leeds children still without high school place for next month

In early March this year, I campaigned alongside South Leeds parents in the Not My School group, to fight for their children’s right to an education within South Leeds. At the time, the council was trying to force them into trips to Seacroft, Halton Moor and various other East Leeds schools, which parents had never asked for and did not want. In my previous article on this matter, we made four proposals to ensure that future generations of children did not have to go through this.

  1. A reassessment of the allocation criteria.
  2. A realignment of school clusters (i.e. how certain primary schools feed into specific high schools).
  3. A maximum travel time for children.
  4. A review of Safeguarding policies for children travelling to school.

So where are we today? Sadly, I have to report that the problem remains unresolved and that many children are still in limbo, without a school. The story of how we got to this pretty pass is one of a council that has spent as much energy trying to blame others as it has working to solve the problem, has utterly disregarded parents’ wishes – even speaking to them rudely – has broken its promises, and has left a trail of upset mums, dads and children in its wake.

At first, we made progress. Cockburn School did well to create extra places for children, which freed up space elsewhere. Cllr Judith Blake, the Leader of Leeds City Council and a Middleton Park ward councillor, said:

“We would like to thank Cockburn School for agreeing to provide these extra places and so help find a solution for these local children and their families.”

We thanked Cockburn too, but this was not a solution – it was just a step toward one. Yet as soon as the local elections were delayed until next year, progress stopped: councillors fell quiet, emails were ignored and promises to help were left unfulfilled. We know of at least seven children who are still to this day without schools, and we believe there are more. The council blamed its failure on the schools – but was it not the council’s job to bring schools together to find a solution?

Instead, we have the present mess. Parents who turned down the schools in East Leeds waited patiently for appeals, only to discover that they had been rejected, leaving them in limbo. In fact, many of the parents involved told us that the whole appeals process was run by people with little or no empathy, and that they were often left upset after being spoken to rudely by people indifferent to their plight.

Emma Coffey, a parent whose son is without a School said:

“Something needs to be done about it. It should be the Council’s priority to make sure children are in education. They’re quick enough to fine parents who take children on holiday or who are poorly for a few days.”

Another parent, Adele Lockwood, states:

“It’s just horrible. All other parents and kids are all sorted and we’re left not knowing if we are coming or going. it’s not right at all – it’s disgusting.”

It is time our South Leeds councillors showed a willingness to help people – even when there is not a coming election to motivate them. If they contact us, we will put them in touch with the families involved and provide whatever additional assistance we can, because this has got to get sorted.

The Council claims to be making Leeds a child friendly City, but indifference to whether children have schools to attend suggests otherwise. What is more important to South Leeds councillors that they cannot help with our kids’ education?


This post was written by Wayne Dixon

Photo: Parents protest at St George’s Hub in March

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3 Replies to “South Leeds children still without high school place for next month”

  1. It ok thanking Cockburn. They have been given millions to provide the temporary class rooms for 60 pupila. I expect all other school could do the same if they were given millions to add rooms and over 7 acres of land even an extra car park for the teachers and a new access road. . All schools are doing their best. All schools used to be within walking distance till our council started building schools like matthew murray and bus children in from bigger catchment area’s but at least in those days they had the brains to build bus access and turning points and ensured busses catered for the needs.

  2. “They have been given millions to provide the temporary classrooms”. You make it sound as though Cockburn could use this money as they wish – obviously the classrooms have been built so that these children don’t have to travel to distant areas of Leeds. It is a pity that you can’t support the children of the area in which you live and those left without places, but I imagine from your tone, and the fact that you have dragged the future school playing field into your post, that you are part of the NIMBY Save the Former South Leeds Golf Course. I assume that your group – of no fixed address although you claim to be based in the derelict club house – will be helping to clear up the mess left by the travellers.

    1. Hmm I actually stated they had been given the money to provide the extra classrooms. This Academy has been given a monopoly in the area so people don’t have a choice anyway. Middleton should have been improved not shut down then there would not have been a problem. Children from that area would have had a school within easy walking distance. But you can’t turn back the clock. I can’t understand why these children have not been allocated a place in the new buildings. When Ruth Gorse was not finished on time the pupils were bussed to Morley. That was only a few years ago. Why are the council not doing that for these children.? Or is there some other reason like being able to blame central Government for not rebuilding Middleton?

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