HUDDERSFIELD’S first new secondary school for more than 30 years could be built at Bradley.
Kirklees Council today announced today it wants to build a £20m-plus school for 11 to 16-year-olds on the same extended campus as All Saints Catholic College, which will benefit from refurbishment.
It will replace Fartown High School, which will close, and will have 1,200 places for children from Birkby, Bradley, Deighton, Fartown, Fixby and Sheepridge.
The move, which is part of the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme, would see Fartown close in August next year.
For more on BSF read on to Page 3.
The BSF project attracted a lot of controversy when it was discussed in North Kirklees. One plan, to shut Castle Hall School in Mirfield, was met with a massive protest which saw the original decision overturned.
The new Huddersfield school, which would be run by a private bidder, and could become an Academy, would remain on the Fartown site for two years, under a new name, until the new building was completed and ready for opening in September 2013.
Plans to be considered by next Wednesday’s Kirklees Council Cabinet meeting, have already received all-party backing following lengthy talks with the Diocese of Leeds, which runs All Saints.
All Saints and the new school would share access off Bradley Road but two new accesses could also be created through the Bradley Business Park and on Fell Greave Road.
The Diocese said they were pleased that All Saints will benefit from a significant refurbishment.
They would also share state-of-the art indoor and outdoor facilities including sporting and community provision.
Dr Andy Williams, executive headteacher at Fartown High School said: “The proposals as outlined represent tremendously exciting news for the local community.
“This has the potential to create a really outstanding school designed for the 21st century and providing marvellous opportunities for young people and their families.”
Clr Ken Smith, deputy council leader and Cabinet member with responsibility for children and families, said: “I would hope the people of this community will see it as a sign of investment in the area.”
And Clr Cath Harris, who also has responsibility for children and families said: “This is a large and diverse population and we see this as a sign of commitment to the area to give that area a greater sense of self worth.”
Council leader Clr Mehboob Khan said the plans would be an exciting development for today’s students and generations to come.
“We are taking positive action to improve standards of education. Local schools for local children and young people are at the very heart of our strategy and everyone agrees that education in this part of Huddersfield is in need of a fresh start.
“In order to take this important step Fartown High School would have to close, but we will work closely with students, staff and parents so that the transition is smooth.
“We are also working to secure extra government funding to bolster Fartown until the new building is complete.”
The number of pupils at Fartown has been in steady decline and it now has around 450 pupils.
It has been dogged by controversy in the past with high truancy rates and GCSE results below the national average.
Many local families have chosen to send their children to other schools such as Rastrick High School.
The new school will also create places for the expected increase in demand for secondary school places over the next decade.
The number of 11 to 16 years in the catchment area is expected to rise from 1,900 to 2,400 by 2020.
Clr Jim Dodds, Conservative leader on the council said: “We have always recognised the need for a new school for this area and the Bradley Bar site was a preferred option.”
Liberal Democrat leader Clr Kath Pinnock said: “We wholeheartedly support the investment in a new school which will provide great learning opportunities for young people in the area.”
The plans will be considered by cabinet next Wednesday and will then go out to a six school-week consultation with feeder schools to Fartown and the local community.
If the proposals go ahead students from Fartown will be fully involved in designing the new building and having a say in the features that it includes.
They will work with the Sorrell Foundation, a charity which was set up in 1999 with the aim of inspiring creativity in young people and improving the quality of life through good design.
The Foundation creates and prototypes new ideas and develops models that can be widely used. One of these models is the “Joinupdesign for BSF Programme” which puts pupils at the centre of the design process during BSF school design.
The council is planning several information sessions, drop-ins and one-to-one meetings with families, and people are being encouraged to write in with their views.
The proposals will then return to Cabinet in June before a notice of competition will be issued.
Under the Education and Inspections Act 2006, the council needs to hold a competition when setting up a new school.
There would be a four month period for bids to be made and a decision on who would run the school would be made by January/February next year.
Clr Smith said the authority was always keen to stress the importance of a family of Kirklees schools with all working together in the best interests of the communities which they served.
The BSF programme for South Huddersfield is under development.
Proposals for a series of improvements at other schools are expected to be unveiled in the coming months.
No-one was available from All Saints for comment.
THE Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme was launched by the Department for Education and Skills (now the Department for Children, Schools and Families) in 2004.
It aims to transform every state secondary school in England – around 3,500 in total through either rebuilding or remodelling.
Around £3bn of capital investment is being made available each year for the programme to create inspirational learning environments which can be used by the whole community.
In Kirklees, the council first announced controversial plans to close Mirfield’s Castle Hall School in 2008 as part of a £200m BSF revamp of high schools in Mirfield, Dewsbury, Batley and the Spen Valley. The proposal included expanding neighbouring Mirfield Free Grammar.
A vociferous campaign by parents, teachers and pupils from both schools campaigned against the plan and in January this year, the Office of the Schools Adjudicator overturned the closure decision.
The second £200m BSF plan for Huddersfield, which includes the new Fartown proposals, has been held up by the Castle Hall saga.
Future plans for South Huddersfield including the Valleys are under development.