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School Places Fiasco


The Leader of the City Council has come under fire from Dawn Primarolo for ignoring the shortage of school places in South Bristol in a letter to Education Secretary Michael Gove.

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Barbara Janke wrote to Mr Gove on 7 September, two and a half months after councillors called for her to do so following a heated debate at the Council House.  In her letter, she refers twice specifically to the need for additional primary places in North Bristol.  The south of the city, where three ‘bulge’ classes were created to ensure parents didn’t have to send their children to schools several miles away, is ignored completely.

Commenting, Dawn said:

“The shortage of primary school places is an issue across the whole city, and it is extremely concerning that the Leader of the Council has not bothered to highlight this in her letter to the Secretary of State.  Scores of parents got in touch with me in May after their children were allocated unsuitable places outside of their communities. 

Unfortunately, the impression that Cllr Janke’s letter gives Mr Gove is that the Government should be focussing on resolving issues in the north of the city.  In fact, we need a solution where all parents, wherever they live in Bristol, can be confident that the Government will properly fund primary school places, and that the Council will be organised enough to ensure that those places are close to home and easy to get to. 

Cllr Janke, is of course, correct to write to the Conservative/Lib Dem Government to ask for additional funding.  However, a solution which provides for one half of the city but not the other is wholly unacceptable.  This is, unfortunately, symptomatic of the way the Council have botched this whole issue.  Plenty of time and effort went in to ensuring public money was spent on a new ‘free’ school to provide additional secondary places in North Bristol where there are already significant surplus places.

The Council cannot afford to get this wrong.   We need additional capital funding, and we need for the Government to recognise that this is a city-wide issue, and that any additional funding meets the needs of communities in Southville, Bedminster and Knowle as well as those in Redland, Henleaze and Westbury-on-Trym.”


Posted 15 September 2011

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