Alex Sobel MP has brought together local schools within Aireborough in an attempt to find alternatives to the closure of Queensway Primary School.
A consultation started last month into the closure of Queensway in Yeadon sparking serious concern from parents, staff and the community at large.
The decision to consult on the closure was taken because of falling enrolment numbers across the district and low projected birth rates, meaning a surplus of places across the area. The per pupil basis of school funding means that the current number of school places in the area is unviable financially.
The meeting which took place early on Monday 31st October at Leeds Sailing and Activity Centre, was an opportunity for all schools in the area to discuss the closure of Queensway and attempt to find viable alternatives for the council to consider.
Also in attendance at the meeting were local ward councillors for Guiseley and Rawdon and Otley and Yeadon as well as Jonathan Pryor, Deputy Leader of Leeds City Council and Executive Member for Education.
Alex Sobel said “I was pleased to welcome the local trust schools and their partner schools to a meeting this morning. We heard touchingly from Mark, the Headteacher at Queensway about the fantastic work they are doing there and the to do the best for children and families across Aireborough.
Whilst there was understandable frustration about the process and consultation, everybody at the meeting understood the reality facing schools in the area and the need to reduce places under the Government’s strict guidelines.
Although there was a lot of support and understanding for Queensway in the room, perhaps understandably no school felt in a position to voluntarily reduce their intake.
We have not had to close a school in Leeds for almost twenty years. Under the Government’s funding formula, I worry that Queensway will not be the last. Conversations like today are vital for schools to prepare for the future, but it is important for me to hear the pressures that school budgets are under and take that to Parliament.
Following the meeting I have written to the Secretary of State for Education to ask why funding for children with special educational needs and disabilities in Leeds is lower than other areas of the country. The Government giving Leeds less money than other areas is directly impacting the ability to keep all schools open. I have also asked her to look again at the per pupil funding formula, that disadvantages those living in the poorest catchments.
The current admissions system creates an environment of extreme competition and restricts collaboration and planning when birth rates fall. I am calling for a complete rethink of these rules, especially as we are now facing the worst economic climate in generations.”
Guiseley and Rawdon Councillor Eleanor Thomson said, “This has been a difficult time for all families involved, and I am determined to ensure that everyone’s voice is heard and we provide the best possible education and support for local children and their families possible. I’ve been working hard to represent the school and to demonstrate what the impact of a closure would be.”