Bradford education chief says many schools are bursting at their seams

First published in News Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Photograph of the Author by , T&A Reporter

Bradford’s education chief has warned that every school in some parts of the city are operating at or above their capacity as the number of places needed exceeds previous projections.

Councillor Ralph Berry, Bradford Council’s executive member for children’s services, said more funding was needed “desperately” to build classrooms for the growing population.

Coun Berry said some areas, including Manningham and Heaton, had no places left.

He said: “We are obviously working on an ongoing basis to increase capacity in the schools around the area and we are doing that, but kids are having to go to school at places nowhere near where they live.

“We have got a growing Eastern European community, we have got people coming into the area and one of the things I think is a reasonably significant factor is people who have moved up and out into other areas by buying houses aren’t doing that and Bradford generally has a high birth-rate at the moment in all communities.”

Coun Berry said several thousands of additional places had been planned with the Building Schools for the Future project which was scrapped by the Coalition Government in 2010.

He said: “I’m just concerned it’s getting tighter and tighter.”

He said services had become more efficient in allocating places and headteachers across the city were working together and agreeing to take on more pupils but he warned the district was not being allowed to build the capacity it needs to meet the demand.

He said: “We have got everyone in, to provide a place for every child and I’m amazed we are able to do it. Headteachers across the city are agreeing to take more, and were it not for that, the co-operation and the working relationships, we would be struggling to place children in school places.”

He said projections of the number of places needed, put together from birth statistics, had been exceeded.

He said: “We have got parents who still think they can choose a school because they have heard this rhetoric about choice – there isn’t any choice.”

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