Wednesday, 9 March 2011

First class facilities to be installed at Whitkirk Primary School

State-of-the-art facilities for children with physical and medical disabilities in east Leeds are to be built at Whitkirk Primary School.

More than £500,000 will be spent on providing new facilities at Whitkirk primary from September 2011. The money will provide new facilities which will allow the children to spend up to 80 per cent of the day in mainstream education.

The facilities, for up to 14 children, will include an area for physiotherapy, a medical intervention room, a nurse’s station and a care suite and a new lift will be installed to give easy access to all children to accommodation on the upper floor. Two new classrooms will also be created through the remodelling of existing accommodation to allow the school to expand from a one and a half form entry to a two form entry school, a process that began in September 2010.

The go-ahead to spend £541,895 on the new facilities was given by Leeds City Council’s executive board today (Wednesday).

Councillor Jane Dowson, executive board member for learning at Leeds City Council, said:
“Whitkirk Primary School will have some of the most advanced facilities available installed as part of this expansion which will cater for up to 14 children with special education needs. The aim is for the children to spend up to 80 per cent of their time in mainstream education which will help with their education and development.

“We are committed to ensuring that every child, regardless of their needs, has access to be best possible education. This investment will ensure that children in this part of Leeds will have the best possible start to their learning.”

Nigel Richardson, director of children’s services, said:
“These facilities will be a fantastic addition to Whitkirk Primary School. They will signal a new beginning for the school which will have some of the most innovative and specialist features in the city. We are committed to investing in our schools and facilities and these will provide a real boost to education in this part of the city,”

Consultations on the new facilities were carried out with the NHS, the school, Leeds City Council and the East SILC. Work is due to start in May with the new facilities opening in September.


For media enquiries please contact:
Jon Crampton, Leeds City Council press office, 0113 3951577

Attendance and exclusion levels improve but there’s still work to do

A series of actions to boost attendance and tackle persistent absence have been agreed to ensure the trend of more children and young people consistently being in school continues.

After hearing that attendance and persistent absence levels in the city continue to improve, Leeds City Council’s executive board endorsed a number of recommendations - put forward by children’s services - to be carried out over the next nine months.

In 2009/10, the overall level of secondary school attendance in Leeds was 91.88 per cent (91.6 per cent including academies) compared to 93.24 per cent and 93.16 per cent nationally. Leeds has seen a gradual increase in secondary attendance since 2000/01 when it was 89.8 per cent.

Regarding attendance and persistent absence, a report to the executive board highlighted that 23 out of 35 maintained secondary schools successfully reduced their persistent absence levels. Three secondary schools were responsible for 21 per cent of persistent absences and there is often a strong link between pupils eligible for free school meals and levels of persistent absence. Pupils with special educational needs are as much as four and a half times more likely to be persistently absent.

Now, to ensure the improvements continue and more children and young people regularly attend school, the executive board has agreed the following recommendations over the next three months:
• Target pupils with 60 – 70 per cent attendance as early intervention is proven to be more effective.
• Train 30 people to develop planning around improving outcomes for children and young people, which includes addressing attendance and truancy.
• Implement a new intervention model and develop an incentive scheme for families whose children already have good attendance.
• Work with NHS Leeds and others to address medical/dental appointments made during the school day.
• Issue guidance to schools and families regarding requests for extended leave.

Between six and nine months, the agreed recommendations are:
• Work with schools to gather absence data more frequently to develop analysis and intervention.
• Following a model used in the south of Leeds, look into transferring funding to other local areas to deliver reduction in exclusions.
• Develop ways in which targets will be set and owned by schools so each school is accountable for outcomes for children and young people.

The report also looked at fixed term and permanent exclusions. It highlighted there were 47 permanent exclusions from secondary schools in 2009/10 - which was lower than the national rate. Over half of Leeds schools had a rate of 0-1 permanent exclusions and only one secondary school excluded more than five young people.

Although the rate of exclusion for black minority ethnic (BME) pupils was lower than the Leeds average, there were certain groups - including white Irish travellers, gypsy/Roma, black Caribbean, other black , mixed black Caribbean and mixed Asian – which had a higher than average exclusion rate.

Councillor Judith Blake, Executive Member for Children’s Services said:
“Attendance and exclusion has been identified as a key priority for children’s services across Leeds. We recognise how important it is for children and young people to have a consistent and uninterrupted education, highlighted when we compare academic achievement for pupils with good attendance records and those without.

“Unfortunately truancy at school is often linked with problems at home so it is even more important that we work with our partners to ensure we identify these vulnerable children early enough to make a difference. I am confident that through our combined efforts we will make that difference and will see an improvement in attendance numbers.”

Councillor Jane Dowson, executive board member for learning at Leeds City Council, said:
“Good attendance and behaviour are essential to help raise standards and ensure that children and young people get the most out of their time at school. It’s pleasing that attendance, persistent absence and exclusion levels are all improving, a trend that looks set to continue with the introduction of new actions over the coming months. Leeds is seeing improvements across all three but there is still work to be done to match national standards and we will continue to work with schools and families to ensure this happens.”

Nigel Richardson, director of children’s services, said:
“Leeds has improving levels of attendance, persistent absence and exclusions which can only boost achievement and positive outcomes for children and young people. The challenge we face is to close the gap for identified groups of pupils and work with individual schools that need our support. The overall picture is pleasing but there is still room for improvement and we will continue to work to raise standards wherever we can.”


For media enquiries please contact:
Jon Crampton, Leeds City Council press office, 0113 3951577

Community centre future secured

A community group in Burley has seen their community centre lease extended to 2087 in a move that offers increased security and the chance to do more in future.

At today’s meeting of Leeds City Council’s executive board, members agreed to sublet the Cardigan Centre to its existing occupiers at a nominal rent, for the remainder of the council’s lease. With this security the centre will have greater chance of securing additional funding and expanding the services they offer.

The Cardigan Centre on Cardigan Road in Burley was built in the 1980s for the benefit of the local community. Since then, as well as engaging in general community work the centre runs a resource centre providing office services, along with specialised departments: Youth Point; Vision Volunteering; Older Active People; Burley handyperson service and; Active 4 Life.

The centre is both a registered charity and a company limited by guarantee, which facilitates social welfare, recreation, education and economic regeneration in the inner-city neighbourhoods of north west Leeds.

Councillor Richard Lewis, executive member responsible for city development, said:
“Given that the Cardigan Centre is so well established we felt it was a great opportunity for the community to really take control of this centre. A long term lease will allow them to further expand and create new and exciting ventures.”

For media enquiries, please contact:
Emma Whittell, Leeds City Council press office, on (0113) 2474713