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Decision to close Castle Hall school in Mirfield delayed

A CONTROVERSIAL decision to close a top-performing school has been delayed.

A CONTROVERSIAL decision to close a top-performing school has been delayed.

Parents, children and staff from Castle Hall school in Mirfield met at Dewsbury town hall to challenge the closure.

The audience applauded as they heard that the school in Richard Thorpe Avenue would not proceed to statutory closure.

The Overview and Scrutiny Panel for Children and Young People decided the decision should go back to Kirklees Council’s cabinet on Thursday, April 9.

Chairman of the panel, Clr Beryl Smith, said the resolution should be delayed until plans for all schools in North Kirklees had been formulated.

She said the panel had ‘concerns that the decision had been taken in isolation of the rest the proposals’.

The public meeting enabled parents and governors linked to the school to make representations against shutting the school.

Mum-of-three Mandy Naylor said the Lib Dem/Labour coalition cabinet’s decision would take away parents’ rights to choose which school their children should attend.

She said she didn’t see why Castle Hall school should have to be closed and merged with Mirfield Free Grammar at the expense of the school pupils.

She said a merger ‘would create upheaval at an important stage in the childrens’ lives.

The Conservative Group ‘called in’ Kirklees Council’s cabinet decision to shut the school as part of a £200m schools reorganisation earlier this month.

Decision makers Labour Clr Ken Smith and Liberal Democrat John Smithson were at the town hall to defend plans.

In January, their political parties had ousted the Conservative cabinet because of Tory plans for schools in North Kirklees.

Clr Smithson said their conclusions were ‘soundly based’ and subject to further ‘consultation’.

Clr Ken Smith added that Mirfield was not big enough to warrant two schools so it was decided that they should close one of them.

The council aim to create eight schools in North Kirklees by closing two of the 10 that currently exist.

Clr Smith added: “Mirfield Free Grammar has 12 hectares and is almost two times as big as the Castle Hall site.

“That is why we decided to close Castle Hall because Castle Hall isn’t capable of taking more than 900 pupils.”

Clr Smith said the results of Castle Hall had declined in the past few years.

This was disputed by members of the public and school staff who said Castle Hall was one of the top-performing schools in North Kirklees and was also a specialist language school.

Father-of-three, Richard Pickering, said his daughter Hannah had chosen Castle Hall because she thought it ‘felt right’.

He said the school had a good ethos and the standards achieved there were high. He said to shut Castle Hall school would be committing ‘educational terrorism’.

 

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