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:

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

The challenge for 2013

Notes on the meeting at the Council with Craig Bolt, 6th June 2012

Thanks to the Council for the positive outcome of this year's Reception intake. In Southville everyone got one of their three wishes, and only 3 families in Bedminster didn't get one of their 3 wishes in the first round of allocations.

* Ashton Gate / St Francis

Concerning the immediate problem regarding Ashton Gate's nursery, there has been sufficient take-up of places at the Southville Centre for this option to go ahead.

Negotiations are progressing regarding the St Francis site. A number of draft conditions were problematic, but these have now been resolved. Even if the purchase and building are completed during the coming school year the nursery would stay at the Southville Centre for the whole year (the Reception classes may or may not move, depending on the school's decision).

* Sites for a new school

A number of sites are being worked on. All information concerning land purchase is confidential and nothing is final yet. At this stage, it is likely that any new school provision would not be available until 2014. Part of one site might be available earlier, enabling a new school to start operating from 2013. This however is the only new build possible for next year.

Several of the sites are just outside the Southville / Bedminster area, but would contribute to resolving the problem in our area.

The government assumption is that any new school now is an academy. Other arrangements such as expanding existing schools operating across split sites is possible, though depending on the size of the new school it might be harder to justify it as an annex.

* What next?

The Council is currently recasting the projections for next year, but can confirm numbers are still rising. 2012 saw the biggest single yearly rise (7%) compared to the usual 5%. And Southville / Bedminster remains one of the areas needing further places.

In the long term an extra four classes are needed (on top of two of the existing bulge classes). For 2013 two extra classes are needed on top of the double form entry at Compass Point.

The Council is going to hold a meeting with all the schools in the area in the coming weeks. The idea is that securing a site for 2014 should give local schools the confidence to put forward solutions for 2013, in the knowledge that this is a short-term situation. No school is currently being excluded from thinking about bulge classes for 2013.

The Council would hope to be able to announce where all the places are available by the time families start making their applications, ideally by the end of October, but cannot guarantee this as not all depends on them.

Funding is less of a problem than before, though there still isn't enough. In excess of £100m has been secured, but the School Organisation Strategy predicted a £150m need.

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