Places squeezed at top Sheffield primaries

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TOUGH times have created a classroom crisis in schools in Sheffield’s wealthy south western suburbs - with youngsters being turned away from their local primaries.

Crosspool’s Lydgate Infants, Dore Primary and Totley Primary are all oversubscribed for the next school year, with problems aggravated by rising birth rates.

Council admissions chiefs admit they have been taken by surprise by the demand for places, which is far above normal levels.

At Lydgate take up of catchment places normally runs at around 73 per cent - but this year it has rocketed to 93 per cent and 20 children have been refused places.

“We have no hard evidence but we can only assume that in these tough economic times, fewer families are opting for places in the private sector,” said John Bigley, the city’s principal admissions officer.

Problems at Lydgate had been anticipated due to a rising population - normally there are around 117 applications but this year’s figure is 148.

As a result 60 extra places have been created at Westways in Crookes and at Hallam Primary in Lodge Moor.

But catchment children turned away from Dore and Totley are set to be allocated places at Low Edges, Lower Meadow Primary at Batemoor and Nether Edge Primary on Abbeydale Road.

When such pupils are refused a place, distance from the school is used as the deciding factor.

Admissions chiefs are expecting many of the families affected to go through the independent appeals process, with hearings likely in early June.

Mr Bigley said more than 6,500 children were seeking places for September, the highest for over a decade.

“The situation in the south west will be a surprise to parents - we didn’t see any point in causing panic in advance of the applications and we aren’t sure it would have led to families making different choices in any event,” he said.

Across the city 350 new places have been created over the last two years to cope with population growth, especially in areas like Burngreave.