Solution sought for full schools

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PRESSURE is increasing to provide extra places at two over-subscribed Sheffield primaries where pupils who have been turned away could face a five-mile journey to reach an alternative school.

Eleven children have been turned away from Dore Primary and eight from Totley Primary after a surprise increase in demand for places.

Education chiefs believe the trend is a result of tougher economic times forcing some parents to abandon plans to send their youngsters to private schools.

Dore councillor Colin Ross believes he has won the argument in principle with council officials that 30 extra places should be provided in the area.

Such a move would also create spaces for non-catchment children who already have brothers or sisters at the schools.

If no action is taken pupils could instead have to travel to Low Edges Primary, Lower Meadow at Batemoor or Nether Edge Primary on Abbeydale Road.

Education officials are believed to be looking at installing a 30-place mobile classroom at one of the two schools - but funding for the plan has yet to be identified.

Coun Ross said he believed the accommodation would be provided, probably at Dore.

“I’m delighted that we’ve have been able to convince the council that there is a pressing need for these additional places. Now parents will not be faced with the prospect of five mile journeys to their allocated schools,” he said.

“I’d like to thank local schools and concerned parents - by working together we’ve demonstrated the local leadership that our community needs.”

But the council’s assistant director of commissioning Alena Prentice said: “It is no secret that primaries in Dore and Totley are oversubscribed this year.

“We’ve been upfront about that and are working with schools behind the scenes to find a solution.

“However, there is no firm solution yet and I would not want to raise parents’ expectations until we have a definite way forward. As soon as we have more to say we will be making parents aware.”

Pressure on places at schools in south west Sheffield has also been aggravated by a rising birth rate, especially in Crosspool.

More than 6,500 Sheffield children will be starting school in September, the highest figure for over a decade.