Sheffield school catchment areas can’t be changed as demand for places peaks

The catchment area for two Sheffield schools won’t change despite them being heavily oversubscribed.

Tuesday, 23rd November 2021, 9:30 am
Updated Tuesday, 23rd November 2021, 9:30 am

Secondary schools in the south west are facing a decade of being oversubscribed due a 25 per cent increase in births between 2002 and 2012.

Demand is due to peak in 2023/24 and Silverdale and King Ecgbert are currently in ongoing negotiations with Sheffield Council about possibly expanding but nothing has been confirmed.

Coun Douglas Johnson is worried that inner city children who attend south west schools will be the ones to miss out on places.

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Silverdale School. Picture Scott Merrylees

He told an Executive meeting: “Since the inner city areas are furthest away from the south west schools, insufficient places would mean the inner city children will be the first to miss out.

“That’s what I’m concerned about because I cover the City ward. Children there can get a direct bus to King Ecgbert but they often get allocated places directly as the crow flies but which are much harder to get in.

“Is it time to reconsider this allocation policy where the direct distance is the tiebreaker to getting a place in a certain school?”

Changing school catchments is complex

Officer Nicola Shearstone said the council had looked at a number of options for managing catchment differently but it would be too difficult to change the boundaries of the two schools.

“If you take the south west of the city, the schools are based in the predominantly affluent areas of the geographical boundary.

“The boundaries are in a wedge so they come towards the city centre and you’re right, if we don’t have enough school places, it’s the children that live furthest away that end up not receiving that place in those schools.

“We’ve looked at whether we could reassess our boundaries around the schools and whether they could be reconfigured but it’s an extremely complex and long term piece of work.

“Our concern is any changes wouldn’t necessarily be something we could bring in to manage the demand we will see in 2023/24.”

The council has received government funding to provide extra places but this is an advance on future funding, not extra.