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, 12 December 2012

Ashton Gate and Southville considering bulge classes

South Bristol Schools Campaign met the Council on Thursday 6th December.

How many Reception classes need to be created?
The Council still estimate that two extra classes (on top of the two-form-entry at Compass Point) are needed for September 2013 in BS3.

What are the plans for September 2013?
No local school is able to accommodate a bulge class on its existing site. This means that any expansion has to take place on new sites. Negotiations are underway with Ashton Gate and Southville primary schools, both of which have been asked by the Council to take on a bulge class next year.

What the schools are saying

Southville newsletter:
Finally, there is still a major shortage of reception places in the area, and as we have successfully integrated an extra class into our school the Council have approached us and asked us to consider if we could expand further in the future. The current site would not be large enough, so they would be looking for an additional site nearby to build on, which would also be a part of Southville Primary School. Several options are being explored but it would be useful to hear your thoughts on this. Please e-mail me or speak to me in the playground. 

At Ashton Gate a bulge class in 2013 would be part of a plan to expand to 4 form of entry (FE) from Sept 2015 on a nearby site. No decision has yet been made as the previous agreement had been to expand to 3 FE. The school's newsletter explains the conditions that must be met and says that Governors will make a decision in January so that current and prospective parents can make informed choices. This decision would be an agreement on principle, with actual expansion only taking place if specific requirements are met.
See the full letter in the post below.

Will we know of all the existing provision by 15th January when applications close?
Possible sites have been identified and the Council is now negotiating to secure them. However no new classes will be confirmed by January 15th.

What does this mean for the applications process?
Extra provision will not be in place by January 15th.
It is hoped however that the extra classes will be created by the time the Council allocates Reception places.
The Council advises parents to chose the schools they prefer, and to make use of their three choices.

Letter from Ashton Gate 12th Dec

Ashton Gate Primary School
Creative thinkers for life
Ashton Gate Rd♦Ashton Gate♦Bristol BS3 1SZ Headteacher: Mrs S Willson Tel: 0117 9030236♦Fax: 0117 9030237

Re: Update on Ashton Gate’s response to Primary places crisis

Dear parents and carers,

The school’s governors continue to work closely with the Local Authority to find a solution to the shortage of Reception places in our area. As you know, plans for the St. Francis church site became problematic: in the end, the diocese and the LA were unable to agree terms, and as physical challenges of the site emerged, the school decided it was no longer viable to operate a suitable facility there.

The LA is now in the advanced stages of negotiation for the temporary use and long term ownership of some nearby property that would provide capacity for a new 2-form entry (2FE) primary school. Although we had previously agreed in principle to expand to 3FE, the demand for places is so great that the LA has asked us to expand to 4FE. If we agree to this, it could either be achieved by (a) our running two separate 2FE primary schools (one on our current site, the other in the new premises nearby), or (b) operating a 4FE school split over two sites (e.g., separate “junior” and “infants” schools). If we did not agree to expand, then another organization would be invited to run the new neighbouring 2FE primary school (probably as an Academy).

As with the decision on expansion to 3FE, this would be an agreement in principle: i.e., we would expand in practice only once specific requirements are met. If agreed, expansion would involve a 3FE Reception intake for September 2013 on the nearby temporary site, while the permanent facility is built, enabling us to expand to 4FE from September 2015. From that point on, we would either run two separate schools or a split site. If we chose the split site approach, Key Stage 2 would occupy the new premises while Nursery-through-Year 2 would be housed on our current site. This would mean that, ultimately, the number of children on our current site would reduce significantly (from 16 classes to 12 plus Nursery), freeing up much needed space. Older children in the new premises nearby would benefit from purpose-designed facilities and space. If we chose to run two parallel schools, the occupation on our current site would remain as it was before the “bulge” of 2011 (14 classes plus Nursery).

If we do decide to expand, governors will agree with the LA the conditions that must be met before we implemented expansion. These would include: (1) completion of an acceptable design for the temporary building to be used in 2013-2015 for Reception and Nursery; (2) signed contracts are in place for the use and purchase of the land and buildings; and (3) completion of a feasibility study that demonstrates that a permanent high quality facility can be produced to meet our requirements.

Time scales for contractual agreements and the feasibility study mean that it is unlikely we would be in a position to agree before April 2013 to implement expansion. As a result, it is very doubtful that we could re-open Nursery for September 2013, and would therefore continue to work with the Southville Nursery until we are able to restore our own high quality provision on-site.

Governors will consider these matters and make decisions by January in order that current and prospective parents can make informed choices. We will keep you up-to-date as the process unfolds, and look forward to your input and support.


Lloyd Fletcher
Chair of Governors