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Building Schools for the Future proposals

Kirklees Cabinet will meet next week to decide on their plans for £200 million of investment in secondary schools across North Kirklees.

School pupils

Building Schools for the Future

On Thursday March 12, the Labour / Liberal Democrat Cabinet group will consider a report which outlines the following proposals for 11 to 16-year-olds:

• A school for 1350 pupils on Howden Clough site (Batley Girls High School – Visual Arts College site)
• Extensive investment and development of Whitcliffe Mount Specialist and Business Enterprise College (VC) for 1500 pupils
• Extensive investment and development of Earlsheaton Technology College for 1350 pupils
• Extensive investment and development of Westborough High School for 1200 pupils

If the proposals are approved, a statutory consultation will follow from Monday April 20 to Friday June 5 to give everyone the opportunity to attend an event, discuss the plans and let the council know their views.

As part of the reorganisation, the report also outlines the following school proposals which are recommended to proceed to statutory notice. These proposals would therefore not be re-consulted on:

• Extensive investment and development to expand Mirfield Free Grammar to 1500 places
• Closure of Castle Hall School and Specialist Language College (as part of the above reorganisation of schools in Mirfield and the surrounding area)
• Extensive investment and development to expand Spen Valley Sports College to 1200 places
• Extensive investment and development to expand The Community Science College @ Thornhill to 1200 places

The report also considers the creation of a sixth form college based in Dewsbury with an initial intake of 400 to 500 students with a view to expansion.

Further discussions are ongoing to finalise the detailed proposal for 1350 11 to 16-year-olds on the Batley Field Hill site (Batley Business and Enterprise College site) to be followed by a statutory consultation in the summer term.

Cllr John Smithson, joint lead member for Kirklees Children and Young People Service, said: “There is a serious and urgent need to significantly improve and enhance the overall educational opportunities and achievements of all our children and young people. Over the last month we have visited every high school in North Kirklees and give full credit to the management and governance of our existing high schools, who have achieved some impressive advances in recent years. Despite these efforts, however, standards are not improving fast enough.

“The current pattern of school provision and resourcing in North Kirklees is not achieving its potential, and the much-needed improvement in standards cannot be made without us making radical changes.”

Cllr Ken Smith, joint lead member for Kirklees Children and Young People Service, said: “We have worked continuously with council officers and believe that an average size of 1350 school places, with a minimum of 1200 to a maximum of 1500, is the right approach. Too many of our high schools currently struggle to achieve financial stability, which can seriously restrict the range of curriculum provision and student support. We need to have high schools that are financially viable, offer a full and broad curriculum and feel welcoming and comfortable to all students.

“If agreed, we promise to conduct this consultation openly and effectively to maximise the value Kirklees can gain from Building Schools for the Future. This really is our chance to turn proposals into action and create real, tangible benefits for our children and young people.”

Cabinet will meet again in July to discuss the consultation outcomes and make a decision on the future of secondary education in North Kirklees.

A further report detailing the proposals for primary provision in the Whitcliffe Mount pyramid should be presented to Cabinet in April.

Later news story about Building Schools for the Future (published 13th March 2009)