Statement in response to information published by the North Leeds Primary School Crisis Action Group
Steve Walker, Director for children and families said:
“I recognise the strength of feeling in the area and the uncertainty parents have. We are bringing forward a solution to provide the additional places needed in the area this year to be discussed at executive board this month”
Notes to editors;
The points below offer more clarity to the situation;
The Roundhay Park Primary Free School did not ‘win funding’, but rather their bid to open a school was approved to move to the next stage of development. The council was not the decision maker in this process - the Secretary of State was. Then following pre approval the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) appointed a project manager and they began a site search. Of an initial 12, this list was reduced, by the ESFA, to 3. They commissioned an independent land agent to undertake a viability assessment of the sites. All were found to be high risk, so they turned their attention to the former Elmete Wood site believing it to be ‘more deliverable’.
The council raised concerns that this was not in the right area, and the ESFA agreed to a consultation on sites to take place. This confirmed that Elmete Wood was not appropriate. Given the high risk nature of all remaining sites they asked the council to self-deliver, which we agreed to do. The ESFA requested a feasibility report on the least high risk site, which the council undertook at its own expense and provided to the ESFA.
The ESFA then discussed this with the Roundhay Park Primary School Trust and we were informed that the Trust had chosen to withdraw the bid. The finance the ESFA indicated had been assigned to the project was approximately £10m lower than the estimated costs of the project.
As an additional point in 2015 there were 71 children in the Roundhay area who could not be offered one of their preference, 28 of which were placed within 1 mile of their home. Only 29 had Talbot as their nearest school, had included it among their preferences, and requested other schools.