SHELLEY College will not resurrect a controversial new admissions policy.
That was the pledge by Shelley principal John McNally, following his meeting at The Deighton Centre with Helen Baxter and Gary Johnson, headteachers at Scissett and Kirkburton middle schools.
According to those present, which included Kirklees education chiefs, “a full and frank discussion” took place.
Shelley’s proposals to take in year 7 and Year 8 students was dropped after sparking bitter protests.
Now Mr McNally has said: “The middle school heads explained the hurt that had been caused by the consultation document.
“It is important to acknowledge these feelings and we do want to express regret for the distress some of the phrases in the consultation document may have caused their staff.
“We also want to confirm our commitment to improving relationships within the pyramid and can help this process by confirming, again, that the proposals are off the table and we have no plans to reintroduce them.
“The meeting today was an important first step in building bridges with the middle schools and we have agreed some key actions we will undertake over the coming weeks.
“Most importantly, we have agreed to resume a number of liaison meetings, to support the transition from Year 8 into Year 9.
“We look forward to building on this first meeting and working together to provide the best possible education for young people in our area.”
The meeting was the first time in three months that the three heads had met face-to-face. Their previous short meeting took place on September 17 when Mr McNally informed the two middle school leaders of the academy’s plans to accept Year 7 pupils, followed by Year 8’s.
Shelley College’s consultation document claimed that some of the teaching at the middle schools was below national averages – a claim hotly disputed by Scissett and Kirkburton, which are rated as outstanding and good with outstanding features by Ofsted.
In a joint statement the two middle school heads said:
“Shelley College governing body will be meeting on January 24 to consider a recommendation that a clear statement is made on ways forward for the Pyramid.
“We feel it is important that the governors make a clear and precise statement at that meeting which strengthens Mr McNally's commitment to the future of the Shelley pyramid.
“Issues around the manner in which the consultation had been handled by the college and the way in which misinformation was either presented or implied were aired and discussed.
“Together the three schools, with support from the local authority, have determined a way forward in which we can work together across the pyramid and we are pleased that Shelley College has made a clear commitment to this.”
John Edwards, Kirklees Assistant Director for Learning and Skills, said: “The meeting was constructive and it was clear that the shared priority of all concerned is to ensure that young people in Kirklees continue having access to the highest possible standards of education.
“As a local authority, we are proud of the standards achieved within the Shelley Pyramid and we know that many families feel a great passion and commitment towards the system.
“We acknowledge that some people were in favour of the college’s proposal to expand, but we are also clear in our own support for the system in Kirkburton and Denby Dale which works effectively in helping children to achieve their potential.
“We look forward to working closely with the college, the middle schools and also, very importantly, the first schools and nursery school – they all contribute to the pyramid’s success.
“The most important outcome for everyone is that children and families continue having trust in a stable local system that offers excellent standards.”