Three students battle for every place at the most popular schools in the Harrogate district, new figures have shown.
Head teachers say they are seeing increasing numbers in applications for every school place, with an average of 2.1 applications per school place in every school in Harrogate.
Concerns have been raised that there will be a shortage of primary school places by 2017 and one county councillor called the issue a ‘ticking time bomb’.
Coun David Simister (UKIP, Bilton and Nidd Gorge) said: “If something isn’t done now we will see real problems in a couple of years’ time. There will be shortage or places at primary schools, and then that will continue to secondary schools.”
Harrogate Grammar School is the most over-subscribed in North Yorkshire, and last year 743 hopeful students applied for the 285 places available.
Headteacher Richard Sheriff said: “It is a nice thing that so many people want for their children to be part of our school, it is a vote of confidence but inevitably it means that some parents are disappointed.
“We are going to face more pressure going forward, with new housing and increasing population numbers, and how this will be dealt with is not yet clear.
“Parents in Harrogate are very lucky though, the quality of schools in Harrogate is very high.”
Robert Pritchard, head teacher of St John Fisher School which last year received 60 per cent more applications than places on offer said it would like to expand, but cannot get the funding required from the local authority (North Yorkshire County Council).
He said: “ Due to being massively oversubscribed and being one of the very few secondary schools still maintained by NYCC, governors at St John Fisher have tried to engage with the Local Authority to receive some capital. The local authority planning system seems to rely on housing growth in areas of the district, rather than how many parents want to send their child to successful schools. As a result we reluctantly refuse places to students who want to come here. This contradicts the governments wish for successful schools like St John Fisher to expand.”
The most popular primary schools in the Harrogate district receive three applications per place.
Sarah Bassit, the head teacher of Killinghall C of E Primary School which received 61 applications for 30 places last year, said: “Obviously as an already oversubscribed school we are concerned about the number of pupils versus number of places.
“This is exacerbated by the increase in the number of new housing developments in the area. Finances are tight for everyone, particularly the county council, so it will be interesting to see how the admissions issues can be resolved positively for schools, parents and the county council.”
In the last two years planning applications for almost 100 homes have been granted in Killinghall.
Pannal Community Primary School and Coppice Valley Community Primary School are set to expand to cope with increasing numbers of pupils.
North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) papers show that Pannal School hopes to increase its capacity by one third with three extra class rooms for 105 more pupils and Coppice Valley School hopes to double its capacity to 420 pupils after the school saw a 15 per cent increase in pupil numbers in the past five years.
County Coun David Simister, (Ukip, Bilton and Nidd Gorge) the ward councillor for Coppice Valley said: “It will be just a few years before we are facing a shortfall and with the planning applications approved for Harrogate, it will only get worse.
“Some housing applications include a primary school, but where will they go when they turn 11?”
NYCC’s executive member for schools, County Coun Arthur Barker admitted that the council are expecting a boom in school applications in a couple of years, but said the council is working to address any shortage.
He said: “Several schools are expanding in the short term and in the long term wemay need to look at building another Primary School in Harrogate.
“The population growth we are seeing is putting pressure on urban areas not rural areas. We are very proud that the vast majority of parents in North Yorkshire get their first choice school place.”
Overall 94 per cent of parents in North Yorkshire got their first choice of school for September 2015.
Most popular primary schools
Beckwithshaw Community Primary School 4.2 applications per place
Burnt Yates C of E School 3.5 applications per place
Goldsborough C of E Primary School 3.42 applications per place
Coppice Valley Community Primary School 3.2 applications per place
Pannal Community Primary School 3.13 applications per place
Birstwith C of E Primary School 3.13 applications per place
Killinghall C of E Primary School 3.05 applications per place
Hampsthwaite C of E Primary School 3 applications per place
Bishop Thornton 3 applications per place
Knaresborough, Meadowside Community Primary School 2.97 applications per place
Most popular secondary schools
Rossett School (Academy 11-18) 2.73 applications per place
Harrogate Grammar School (Academy 11-18) 2.61 applications per place
St. Aidan’s CE High School (Academy 11-18) 2.55 applications per place
St John Fisher Catholic High School (Voluntary Aided 11- 18) 2.33 applications per place
Nidderdale High School and Community College (Community 11-16) 2.02 applications per place
King James’s School (Community 11-18) 1.89 applications per place
Ripon Grammar School (Community 11 -18) 1.7 applications per place
Boroughbridge High School (Community 11-18) 1.7 applications per place
Harrogate High School (Academy11-18) 1.58 applications per place
Outwood Academy Ripon (Academy 11-18) 1.4 applications per place