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Fury at Tory plan to axe 11 schools

LABOUR and Liberal Democrat councillors have hit out at plans to axe 11 schools in north Kirklees.

Fury at Tory plan to axe 11 schools

LABOUR and Liberal Democrat councillors have hit out at plans to axe 11 schools in north Kirklees.

They say plans put forward by Conservative-led Kirklees Council will disadvantage future generations.

The £200m scheme will see some schools in the area expanded – but 11 might close.

It is the first phase of a £500m overhaul which should see every state school refurbished or rebuilt by 2010, as part of the Government’s Building Schools for the Future scheme.

Schools which might close include Castle Hall, Mirfield, which has several hundred pupils in the town and surrounding area. It could be closed by August 2013.

The students would transfer to an extended Mirfield Free Grammar School.

In Dewsbury, Birkdale High School and Westborough High School could go, with pupils moving to a new academy for north Kirklees.

Four middle schools – Birkenshaw, Gomersal CE, West End and Whitechapel, Cleckheaton – would also shut as Kirklees plans to return to a two- tier system, with children changing school only at the age of 11.

In Batley the Girls’ High School, Visual Arts College and Batley Business and Enterprise College are earmarked to go along with RM Grylls at Liversedge.

Clr Mehboob Khan, leader of Kirklees Labour Group, said one new school in Birkenshaw would not make up for the loss of so many others. He added that children would have to travel further – especially if they want to attend a sixth form.

“These plans are a wasted opportunity and fail miserably to meet the needs of most children. Labour councillors and MPs will be encouraging the Tories to change these flawed plans.”

Dewsbury MP Shahid Malik is calling for a purpose-built sixth-form facility in Dewsbury to be included in the council’s plans.

He said: “Many of our young people want to stay on and continue their education. The problem is that we don’t have a sufficient number of places in Dewsbury to cater for those people.

“This money has given us a once in a generation chance to build a top facility that will compliment the new college development and give youngsters a real choice. Dewsbury will suffer unless we can sort this out.”

Clr Gwen Grailey, Labour ward member for Batley West, said: “This is a decision that will probably shape the education landscape for many years to come. I will do all I can to encourage the Tories to see the damage their plans will do to Batley and the surrounding area.”

Plans to shake-up schools in Huddersfield and South Kirklees will soon be revealed.

Nicola Turner, Colne Valley Liberal Democrat ward member, said: “What makes me really angry is the proposed blatant misuse of public funds.

“There is approximately £200m grant money from the Government which should be spent evenly on each of the schools.”

 

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