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Only a commitment to cross-party working can solve Bristol’s school places crisis, Dawn Primarolo and Kerry McCarthy have said.  Labour’s MPs for Bristol South and Bristol East joined a delegation which met this morning with Schools Minister Nick Gibb.  Also at the meeting were Charlotte Leslie, Conservative MP for Bristol West, Bristol West Lib Dem MP Stephen Williams, and the Council’s Executive Member for Children, Young People and Skills, Clare Campion-Smith. 

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The representatives called on Mr Gibb to ensure that Bristol, which has amongst the highest levels of reception-aged school children in the country, receives a significant proportion of £500 million Government funding which is being made available to create school places.  This spring scores of parents missed out on all of their school choices, being allocated places in schools miles away instead.  “Bulge classes” were created at Ashton Gate Primary, Compass Point and West Town Lane Primary to resolve this year’s situation, but the long-term problems remain, with a very significant funding gap between the Council’s aspirations and its current capabilities.  

Speaking  after the meeting, Dawn said:

“This is one of the most significant issues facing Bristol as a city, and people want us to put party politics aside and work together to get this problem resolved, so I am grateful to Council Leader Barbara Janke for personally inviting me to this important meeting.”

“Bristol’s representatives made very clear to the Schools Minister that the shortage of schools places is being felt very intensely in communities across Bristol.  Parents rightly expect that they will be able to secure a good, local school place for their children and we must not let them down.  The Government have the means to help us solve this problem, now we need to work to make sure that Bristol’s share of Government funding truly reflects our very significant needs.”

Kerry, who tabled a debate in Parliament today to raise Bristol’s concerns, added:

“Following this important debate, I hope that Bristol’s four MPs can now work together, urging Education Ministers to work with the Council and to secure the necessary funding in the best interests of families all across our city.

Parents and Children in Bristol deserve better.  The shortage of places at their local school has meant many parents in East Bristol have had very stressful summers, trying to work out if they can get to work and get their child to school on time. This is not acceptable. A number of schools in my constituency, such as Air Balloon, added temporary classrooms but they now need permanent solutions and funding to enable them to plan for the new children starting in September, as well as for the longer term.

The Government needs to adopt a common sense approach and to urgently allocate the funding Bristol desperately needs to avert a crisis in our primary schools.”


Posted 11 October 2011

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