South Bristol Schools Crisis

Offers for primary school places have been made for September 2014 and we are delighted that the local schools were able to accommodate all children living in the area. Many families got their first choice. Thank you to the Council and schools for their hard work.

The area now has sufficient reception places for all the children in the area. There has been strong support from the Council, with the acquisition of land for Ashton Gate and Southville to expand, and from the local schools which have expanded or taken on "bulge" classes when needed. There are also plans to create a new school on the caravan site near Spike Island, which should increase choice for BS3 families and help with the lack of places in the Hotwells and Clifton Wood areas.

We continue to monitor these developments and keep the community informed.

South Bristol Schools Campaign is a community-led group initially formed when there was a lack of local school places in BS3. It seems that long term solutions are now in place, so our role will now be limited to liaising with schools and the Council to ensure the delivery of promised new places and new sites, and to share information with the local community.

For the latest information, join the mailing list - this will allow the campaign group to quickly and easily inform and keep track of all those concerned.

You can also email the campaign group:

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Ashton Gate Expansion Open Meeting Q & A

On Thursday 24th November from 7pm-8:30pm Ashton Gate school held an open meeting to give current and future parents an opportunity to ask questions and share their views about the possible expansion of the school to take an additional Reception class in September 2012, and the longer term implications.

Some of the questions and responses are summarised below:

Q: What happens if there is no permanent solution?
A: It will mean reducing the intake in future years. The council is confident that there is the funding for a permanent solution.

Q: How have numbers been increasing at the school since the bulge class and what are projected increases?
A: We don't have numbers to hand but the expansion will create a spare classroom on the current site. Most local schools are full.

Q: How will the expansion impact on the culture of the school?
A: The community ethos of the school is very important. We will be asking the children in the school for their views on how to maintain the ethos of the school.

Q: How will you minimise disruption by the planned short term changes?
A: We will ensure that disruption is minimal. We need to think broadly in order to benefit the community as a whole.

Q: What will the decision be based on? Why is there such a short amount of time to make the decision?
A: The decision we are about to take is for the short term only . We don't yet know about the long term. To make a decision we need to ensure that the inconvenience caused by expansion is tolerable and manageable. We are avoiding the rushed decision that happened last year and have been talking about these options for a long time. Parents should be able to make an educated view about whether they can secure a place at a local school. Based on rising numbers a new school needs to be in place by 2014.

Q: How will the outdoor space by affected by expansion?
A: There is more space per child on the St Francis Site than on the current site. The school crossing has to be suitable or the planning application will be turned down.

Q: Will the needs of the wider and community be taken into account?
A: We will balance the community need against the disruption and inconvenience.

Q: Why were only 7 places taken up at South Street Primary School when there is a deficit in the area?
A: There is a shortfall of 98 places in the greater Bedminster area. There is a growing number of parents interested in South Street.

Q: Where and how will children eat under the expansion?
A: We will discuss this with the organisation who organise the school meals. We believe that hot meals should be taken to children on the St Francis site.

Q: What guidance can you give to new parents on how to apply for places?
A: Parents will be told where there will be spare capacity before the deadline for making applications, so will be able to make an informed choice. We suggest putting your three closest schools down.

Q: Is the online survey available to current and future parents?
A: It is available to anyone who is concerned/ interested in the expansion plans.

Q: Would it be possible to end up in a situation where parents are offered places, but then the planning application is turned down?
A: Before offers of places are made we will know if the planning application has been successful. Parents will know by mid December which schools are able to take additional children. The council will work closely with the planners and hope to have permission agreed by April. The planning process should only take 6 weeks. If it is unsuccessful we will need to find an urgent solution.

Q: What other plans are in place for meeting the deficit of places?
A: The council is working with other schools to add capacity. The council is currently bidding for a site but negotiations are dragging. We have to look at expansion in blocks of 30.

Q: What finances are there to make improvements to the current school?
A: There will be no substantial investment in the current buildings.

Q: What financing is required for the long term solution?
A: £10,000 is required for each place for each child so £6-7 million has been set aside for a new school. PFI funding is possible. The council will know in December if we are to get 3 year capital funding. There is more than the 18 million available to Bristol due to previous and current funding.

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