School delays hit primary places

May 06 2022

YOUNG children starting their school journey are the latest to be hit by delays in building new schools for Lyde Green.

A total of 135 families with children set to turn five in the coming year put Lyde Green Primary School as a choice on their applications for places in September.

But although South Gloucestershire Council’s Primary School Admission Guide said the school in Willowherb Road planned to take in 90 new pupils this year, it only has capacity for 60.

Council figures show 26 families who made the school their first choice missed out on places.

Another ten applicants who made it their second or third choice were not offered a place either at Lyde Green or at one of their two other preferences, which meant 36 families ended up being offered places at a school they had not chosen.

yde Green Primary School was originally built to accommodate 420 pupils, plus a further 12 in its specialist access centre, but as the population of the estate grew, it expanded to admit three consecutive extra ‘bulge’ classes, with an intake of 90 last year.

A second site, next to the planned Lyde Green Secondary School in Honeysuckle Road, was originally supposed to open this September, with capacity for another 60 pupils.

But both the new primary school and neighbouring secondary school have been repeatedly delayed, and may not now be ready to open until 2024. Children in Year 6 at the primary school found out earlier this year that the secondary would not open in time for them to go there.

The council’s admissions guide told parents the school’s ‘planned admission number’ in September was 90 and also said: “From 2022 the school plans to have a second site to accommodate the additional children. After places have been offered the school will ask parents to state their site preference.”

The council has now updated its admissions website informing parents of the admission number is wrong.

Many parents who have missed out on places at Lyde Green have been offered a place at Barley Close Primary School in Mangotsfield, which is around a mile and a half away on foot and more than two miles away by car.

Parents posted a letter from Lyde Green Primary on Facebook showing that the furthest distance from the school a child with no siblings there could live, and still be offered a place, was 0.239 of a mile.

They accused the council of “screwing up” provision for the area and “shocking” communication.

Emersons Green Town Councillor Matt Palmer said: “Parents in Lyde Green are devastated once again, as 35 families were affected by the removal of the bulge class at Lyde Green Primary.

“This isn’t a criticism of Lyde Green Primary School, which for the past three years supported the community with an extra class.

“The problem has been communication from South Glos Council; families were not made aware of the reduced intake number at Lyde Green Primary, not allowing them to make a fully-informed decision.

“With no signs of building work starting for the second primary school and the secondary school, are families really going to have an option in 2024?”

The council said that, overall, it had offered 97% of South Gloucestershire families a place at one of their three preferences, with nine out of ten offered a place at their first choice school.

That left around 100 children  being offered a place at a school they had not chosen.

Cabinet member for education Erica Williams said: “We are pleased that once again, we have met a high level of parental preference on Primary School Offer Day.

“We continue to achieve this high rate of meeting parental preference by working closely with all the schools in our area to ensure that we have a sufficient supply of places available across South Gloucestershire to meet demand.

“Giving all children in South Gloucestershire the best start in life and the opportunity to reach their full potential is our top priority as a council.

“Our goal is for every child to have the opportunity to attend a good or outstanding school in South Gloucestershire and despite the challenges of the pandemic, the performance of local schools in recent years has been strong and improving.”

The Voice understands the council is in discussions with Castle School Education Trust, which runs Lyde Green Primary, and the Department for Education over provision for the coming years.