CHILDREN lambasted councillors last night in a heated meeting about controversial school changes.

Nearly 200 people packed into Dewsbury Town Hall as Kirklees Council’s Cabinet considered plans for sweeping changes to education in Birkenshaw.

The council wants to move Birkenshaw CE First and Nursery School on to the site of Birkenshaw Middle School.

Parents are furious about the plan, which they believe is designed to wreck their dream of setting up an independent high school at the middle school site.

Some 193 people attended last night’s meeting of the Labour Cabinet at Dewsbury Town Hall.

Children from the village led the criticism of councillors.

Birkenshaw First School pupil Holly Gill said her school should stay where it is.

She asked the Cabinet: “Why do you want to move children from a site where they are happy, settled and safe?”

Birkenshaw Middle School pupils also spoke against the council’s plan.

Robert Walker told councillors: “We strongly disagree with moving Birkenshaw First School.”

Molly Mitchell added: “The council is supposed to help us. Everyone knows you don’t want us to have a high school in Birkenshaw.

“Will you be able to live with the burden of upsetting so many children?”

Cabinet member for schools Clr Peter O’Neill defended the proposed move.

The Batley West Labour man said: “We want the best possible primary school provision for Birkenshaw.”

Kirklees director of children’s services Alison O’Sullivan added: “We don’t have that much money at the moment and this proposal gives us the best result with less money.”

Kirklees originally planned to close Birkenshaw Middle School and extend Birkenshaw First and East Bierley CE to make room for the older children from the middle school.

But the council did a U-turn earlier this month and suggested moving Birkenshaw First School to the middle school site instead.

The idea has angered the Birstall, Birkenshaw and Gomersal (BBG) Parents’ Alliance, which is determined to build a new high school on the site of the former Birkenshaw Middle School.

It would have been one of 16 “free schools” backed by the Government.

The schools, which have been given initial approval to open next September, will be under the control of parents and teachers rather than their local council.