Lindley councillors call for action over 'disgraceful' school places shortage

Six-year-old Tatumn Donkin has been out of school since January

A shortage of school places combined with ‘excessive’ house building in Lindley has been branded ‘disgraceful’.

The claim came after the case of a local couple was highlighted by councillors.

Lindley councillors have warned that the building of 325 new homes in the ward could push its schools system to breaking point.

Danielle Burkinshaw has struggled to find places for her six-year-old son Jayden and five-year-old daughter Tatumn.

Ms Burkinshaw and her partner Richardson Donkin moved to Lindley in January to be closer to Richardson’s parents.

And while Jayden found a place at Reinwood Infant School after Easter, Tatumn has been unable to take the place she was offered at Beech Early Years School, three miles away in Golcar.

Neither Ms Burkinshaw nor Mr Donkin, who work full-time as a restaurant manager and a long distance lorry driver respectively, are able to take Tatumn to school.

And the children’s grandma Penny, who looks after Jayden and Tatumn while their parents are at work, is unable to take Tatumn to Golcar as she cannot drive and has to care for her husband who suffered a stroke.

Ms Burkinshaw, originally from Essex, said: “My daughter has been out of education since December. She hates being out of school. She’s always crying and asking when she’s going to school. At five years old it’s going to be detrimental to her development.”

Ms Burkinshaw, 27, also blasted Kirklees Council’s schools booking system. “It’s been a lot of phoning continuously to find out what’s going on. It’s very disappointing; there’s been no support. I’ve been told to fend for myself. It’s just an absolute disgrace.”

Lindley Lib Dem councillor Cahal Burke branded the situation ‘disgraceful’.

Clr Burke and Conservative Lindley councillor Mark Hemingway warned that the situation would worsen once the 325 new homes on Lindley Moor became occupied.

After a bitter battle Kirklees Council approved the building of two housing developments, of 294 and 31 homes, off Weatherhill Road.

Clr Burke said: “It is disgraceful what is happening and I feel for families that are unable to get their children into local schools.

“A new school is required and not short-term solutions as the problem is only going to get worse when all the houses are occupied”.

Clr Hemingway added: “There is a problem with school places in Lindley and I agree it isn’t helped by the excessive development in the area.”

A spokesperson for Kirklees Council said: “We monitor population levels across the district to keep an accurate picture of the demand for school places. This includes in areas where new homes are due to be built and where demand may rise as a result. We are already looking at additional provision for a number of these areas in Kirklees and we work closely with our schools to meet the demand for places.

“This particular family applied for two schools for Tatumn, but unfortunately places were not available as the year groups were full in both cases. They lodged an appeal regarding one of those schools, but this was not successful. We are continuing to work closely with the family so that a suitable place can be found as quickly as possible.”

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