Leeds City Council has a legal duty to ensure the provision of sufficient school places in the city, and due to a rising birth rate and new housing developments, has established an on-going city wide school expansion programme to meet increased demand for school places. Headingley is an area in the city where we are seeing an increased demand for primary age places.  Data from various sources identifies that a need for an additional 30 reception places (equivalent to up to 1 form of entry) may be needed across the area by 2017.

As part of the process for identifying options and reviewing school place provision in Leeds, a Stakeholder Engagement Event using Outcome Based Accountability (OBA) methodology was held on 19 January  2015.  The aim was to bring key stakeholders together to discuss the issues and generate ideas and solutions.  Attendees at the event included school governors, head teachers, elected members, parent group representatives and officers from teams across the council including School Capacity Planning, Highways, Planning and Built Environment.

A summary of the suggestions put forward:

Please note that these suggestions may not have been put forward by representatives of the stated school and therefore may not represent that school’s governing body view. In addition, there are also a number of practical barriers to some of the options put forward, including traffic and highways matters. Where sites or land use is suggested, this land may not be available or in Leeds City Council ownership and would therefore need further investigation.

1.  Lawnswood School to become a through school, by establishing primary provision on the current site or utilising any available land nearby.

2.  Abbey Grange C of E Academy to become a through-school by establishing primary provision on a split-site.

A number of sites have been put forward, although some of these are not in council ownership or are not currently available for school use. Further investigations would need to take place to determine whether these sites could be used for school provision.

3.  Encourage any of the three major Universities of Leeds (University of Leeds, Leeds Beckett University or Leeds Trinity) to propose an Academy or Free School for primary (and possibly secondary) provision in the area. This school could operate as an international school, working in partnership with willing local primary schools in the area with an emphasis on accommodating children of the transient populations who live and work around the universities.

This option was not put forward by representatives of the University.

4.  Expand St Chad’s C of E Primary School from 1 form of entry (30 places in reception) to 2 forms of entry (60 places in reception), utilising land at the former West Park Centre site.

Although the West Park Centre is owned by Leeds City Council, it is not currently available for school use. Further investigations would need to take place to determine whether this site could be used for school provision.

5.  The Abbey Multi-Academy Trust could propose a new Free School to offer primary provision on a site yet to be specified in the Headingley area.

6.  Investigate the use of the former Beckett’s Park School site for its potential as a new specialist setting for children with complex communication difficulties. This would free up space at other local schools allowing them to take additional children.

7.  Re-purpose a portion of the West Park Centre site to establish communal facilities to be used by all local primary schools. This specialist setting could offer a central resource for sports and music for example and free up space at local schools allowing them to expand.

We would welcome your comments on the above suggestions or any other options you feel we should consider.


  1. Faith schools are having problems arise in recent Ofsted inspections with such being asked to have faiths they do not agree with take part in the worship of the faith school. They are also asked to take decisions which they cannot give conscious assent to on how sexuality should be presented. Such as Abbey Grange Church of England Academy requires all puplis to either receive a priestly blessing or take communion in termly compulsory communion services, in spite of the fact any Anglican church never makes communion compulsory and gives freedom to all to attend but not receive blessing or communion. These factors suggest non-faith schools need to be encouraged far more as they do not have such issues. I say this as a practising Christian. I therefore would suggesting funding for non-faith schools such as Lawnswood or any other such is a far better and less complicated issue.

  2. Hello, a friend passed this on to me.
    I am a trustee of Headingley Preschool (established 1982) and have many years involvement in early years education in Leeds. We have seen the steady increase in children living in Headingley and demand for places at Headingley Preschool now far outweighs supply. So much so that we are in the early planning stages of opening a second provision once we find a site. There is a serous problem looming and my own thoughts are that the 30 child places you were discussing will soon rise to at least double that!

  3. Option 2 – If the primary provision was on a split site how would the philosophy of a ‘Through School’ be worked out?
    Option 7 – As there have been many cuts in school budgets and the availability of free school transport over the last 12 months, who would cover the costs of transporting pupils from their schools to the communal facilities?
    Options 4 and 5 – These seem the most sensible to me,especially if the West Park site was available for option 4.

    • Opt2. A through school is simply a way of bypassing Tory privatisation legislation that allows current schools to open new schools without having to go into a whole free school / academy invitation consultation (academy’s now can sell schools to each other!) . Good or bad, split sites are one of the methods of opening schools, Roundhay Primary is no where near it’s high school. There would be little mingling between primary and secondary in a combined site anyway.

  4. The need for more school places in Headingley has been around for at least 6 years, with pressure on current schools and a lack of Leeds City Council provision as 2 of the schools are CofE (St Chads and Meanwood) with different entry criteria.
    Of the suggestions above, re-opening the existing building at Beckett’s Park school makes the most sense as it is not conditional on acquiring a site. Is there a demand from parents of those with communication difficulties to have special provision? If not it would be better to reopen it as a regular primary school.
    I cannot think of any suitable available land near Lawnswood with enough space to establish a through school. Also,if the need for more school places is in Headingley itself, putting a new primary school on the West Park site or near Lawnswood would create transport issues as the children who need the school places won’t live within walking distance.
    The pressure on school places will be increased further if the West Park centre site is built on with more houses.

  5. If more school places are needed in Headingley, then the best solution would be to create additional places in Headingley itself so that children are within walking distance.
    The best solution would be to re-open the Beckett’s Park School site as a regular primary school or build a new school on that site.
    I don’t agree with creating a ‘Through School’ at Lawnswood School or using any other available land nearby as this does not solve the problem of places needed in Headingley.
    Creating a ‘Through School’ at Abbey Grange would also create transport problems and would not allow children to walk to school and therefore does not solve the problem of places needed in Headingley.
    Re-opening the existing at Beckett’s Park also makes more sense as it is not conditional on acquiring a site but to use this as a regular school.
    For the same reasons it does not make sense using the West Park site to build a school either.

    • I support this. Local schools should be within walking distance for local people. Abbey Grange pupils come from all over Leeds as it’s a C of E school; on a smaller scale, St Chad’s is also a C of E school and therefore pupils may travel from further to attend. Expanding these schools will not necessarily relieve pressure for school places in Headingley (neither school is actually in Headingley…). The knock-on effect of more traffic would cause even more problems on the roads. I live near Lawnswood and already worry about the safety of pupils when they leave the grounds (no road safety sense). Having more people crossing Spen Lane and other roads could lead to accidents and injuries.

  6. We need more primary school places in Headingley as there is a shortage and surely the best option would be for more primary school places in the immediate area:

    1) There are massive traffic problems at Lawnswood roundabout, Otley Road and Ring Road and more children in a through school at Lawnswood would just add more traffic at peak times of day. Surely better to walk to school.

    2) Expanding Abbey Grange to a through school would again create massive traffic problems on Butcher Hill (ever driven down there at school times?) and surrounding road networks. It is also further away from Headingley.

    3) The West Park site. Again this would add massively to traffic in the surrounding areas which are already intolerable.

    I suggest that the old Becketts Park school be either refurbished (if not already demolished) and re-opened or a new school be built on the old Becketts Park school site, surely a cost effective option.

    Walking to school for all school children should be encouraged and the Becketts Park site would make this possible for Headingley families. Seems obvious to me.


  7. Over the last 10-15 years there has been several primary/middle schools shut down or being re-used for other purposes. Beckett’s Park, Headingley Primary, Holt Park, Tinshill Primary and the West Park Centre to name a few. What is wrong with re-opening the schools which still exist or building on the existing sites of the others.
    I am opposed to extending St Chad Primary, as my children attend this school, which we selected due to the nature of it’s size, it’s culture, and teacher/children relationships. Extending the school would change all of this.

  8. The most sensible option here is to re open the Beckett Park site. There is plenty of land available to build a new school if that is what is wanted and then demolish the old building to create new playing fields. Alternatively, just refurbish the current buildings and relocate the present users. I know the Schools Library Service that have used part of this site for a number of years would be willing to move to a more suitable building. There is already a nursery on the site now too. Best of all though is that the covenant on the land means it has to be used for the benefit of the local children so could never be sold to developers anyway. Use it for what it was intended. Make it a school again.

    • Why not consider approaching the universities (option three) to support this? Leeds Beckett Uni has a well-established presence in the area, it’s near to the Beckett Park site and has facilities pupils could access. Although the Council cannot build new schools, perhaps senior leaders could support this idea and engage the university in discussions.

  9. What a shame nobody thought of this problem in the 10 years Royal Park School (much handier for Headingley than West Park, Abbey Grange or Lawnswood) sat empty and neglected before being demolished. Or perhaps considered requiring the redevelopment of the girls’ grammar school site to be conditional on creating a new primary school on part of the site rather than have a quixotic and ultimately fruitless battle to preserve playing fields for public use which had never really been in public use.

  10. Given all the changes in provision over the last 20 years in Headingley, any solution needs to be as future proof as possible. Sort out the provision for the long term, not just a short term quick fix. Where are the population pressure points exactly? And where are they expected over the next 20 years?

    Why is there no consideration of expanding other primary schools, apart from Shire Oak? Space on their sites?

    I agree with comments about encouraging walking to school being a priority (community cohesion, health, foot-fall for shops etc).

    If there is existing sites that can be used and are located in the right area then use those – Becketts Park? However special school provision should not be compromised, as these can be the forgotten, Cinderella services.

    A map would be helpful to understand the proposed locations please.

  11. It’s rather unfortunate that the title of this stakeholder event discussing school places is ‘Headingley’ when in fact the discussions were about Weetwood, Far Headingley and the Lawnswood areas.

    This may have been misleading for some people who read and responded to the summarised comments.

    Having said that it is important that recognition is given to the fact that any changes to school places in this area will have a ‘knock on’ effect to all the surrounding areas and similarly if the situation is reveresd in those areas.

    Councillor Sue Bentley

    • The population figures and plan of where they are would have been helpful then.

      You as the local councillor should know where there is physical space in those areas. Weetwood and Far Headingley have nothing. Lawnswood is a PFI school so there would be too much red tape, plus I don’t think they would/could give up the land. St Chads probably could expand onto the West Park fields that adjoin it, but then you are limiting the intake as it is a CofE school. Also, they probably couldn’t change that status as they are now part of the Abbey Grange Multi Academy Trust. Abbey Grange itself has space issues and is too far away. The old Headingley Primary site was never fit for purpose as it has no playing space to speak of. The only sensible option IMHO is to re-develop the Becketts Park site in whatever way fits the need. It has the space (that has to be used for the benefit of children). And if the entrance points to the new build are situated correctly it is basically in the centre of everything.

  12. In a discussion about another area (Ardsley and Tingley), “slides that were used in the presentation during the recent stakeholder event” we’re attached. Please can you equally attach the relevant slides here?

  13. and in a couple of years we will need more secondary school places…….. and in 6 years we will be screaming for them…… with a CoE secondary and one other to go to there is likely little scope for expanding. How about a totally new through school.

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