Schools call for expansion plan to tackle admissions pressure in south-west Sheffield

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News: Sheffield Telegraph online 24-hours a day.

Schools in south-west Sheffield are calling for a full-scale expansion plan to tackle an increasing shortage of pupil places - and building a completely new primary could be part of the solution, a local MP has said.

Primaries affected by the pressure on admissions this spring include Ecclesall Infants, Greystones, Sharrow, Lowfield, Holt House and Nether Edge. Schools in Dore and Totley are also expected to be oversubscribed.

Figures have suggested up to 150 children could be turned away, but Sheffield City Council says its data does not back up this claim.

An extra 30 places are being created at Dobcroft Infants in Millhouses from September, while a consultation is under way about whether the measure should be made permanent. But the change is being opposed by parents and governors, who say the school was not given enough say over the initial decision to expand.

Governors and senior staff at Clifford CE Infants in Nether Edge and Ecclesall Infant and Junior school are also against the Dobcroft plans, saying they are not enough to tackle the situation.

Instead they are proposing an expansion programme at Ecclesall Infants.

There is also the conversion of Clifford into a full primary school.

Governors have met MPs Nick Clegg and Paul Blomfield as well as Dore and Totley councillor Colin Ross to discuss the issue.

In an interview with the Telegraph this week, Mr Clegg said the Dobcroft plan was a ‘stopgap solution’.

“Other schools in the area would like to be part of the solution of providing more school places in the south-west of the city,” he said.

“I’m anxious we should get it right because one of the reasons why people want to come and live in this part of the city is because the schools are so great.”

Mr Clegg said building a completely new school ‘could be’ justified to meet demand.

“We’ve got to move from these stop-gap solutions to something that really works for the south-west.”

The consultation at Dobcroft Infants finishes on February 22. A second phase to expand the neighbouring Dobcroft Juniors would begin in September 2019.

Jayne Ludlam, the council’s executive director of children, young people and families, said: “Some figures circulated in the local area suggest that up to 150 children would not be able to get a local school place.

“We want to reassure parents that this is not what the data tells us. Across the south west area there is an increase of approximately 20 children in 2015 compared to 2014.”