MORE than 90% of parents were opposed to Shelley College’s controversial expansion plans.
That’s one of the main findings of Kirklees Council’s non-statutory consultation, the results of which have just been published.
Shelley had announced plans to look at accepting Year 7 and 8 pupils, but later dropped the plans after a furore.
Parents stated they felt the middle schools were an ideal “stepping stone” for children after being in smaller first schools which prepared them well for secondary school.
The majority also felt that the possible transition from a relatively small school to a potentially very large school would be daunting and intimidating.
An overwhelming majority of all people who responded felt that the existing three-tier system with high performing schools worked well and saw no reason to change it.
The council received 465 official responses during the process, which began on November 5. It actively ran until November 20 when Shelley governors formally withdrew their plans to accept Year 7 and 8 pupils following stiff opposition from local residents and parish councillors.
Responding to the question of whether they preferred a two-tier or three-tier education system for their children, only 23 of the 315 parents who responded said they preferred a two-tier system – with no middle schools.
Shelley College became an academy in 2011 and is answerable directly to the Government, not the local authority. But such was the strength of feeling in the area, Kirklees decided to run its own consultation in addition to the academy’s.
The council sent out over 6,000 documents to parents, teachers, governors, early years locations, trade unionists, neighbouring local authorities and the parish councils of Denby Dale and Kirkburton.
It also organised 10 drop-in sessions across the Denby Dale and Kirkburton wards. In the end only five were held, attended by more than 200 people, as the meetings were overtaken by events.
The council also asked people whether they would prefer a three- and two-tier system running together or purely a two-tier system. Over three quarters of the 398 replies supported the former.
However, because there could be no guarantee of a place at Shelley College for Year 9 pupils, this was not feasible. The question of whether they would prefer solely a three-tier system was not asked.
Clr Cath Harris, lead Cabinet member for Children’s Services, said: “We very much welcomed the views received through this non-statutory consultation and I would like to thank all those people who took part.
“We are working positively with all schools in the Shelley Pyramid, as well as the Diocese of Wakefield, to ensure that local children continue having access to the highest possible standards of education within a stable system.”