HUNDREDS of parents and children went on the march to save their schools.
Some 500 people were expected to take part but organisers believe as many as 1,000 turned out.
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Saturday’s march was in protest at a bid by Shelley College to take in younger pupils, a move which would threaten local middle schools.
The march was organised by Keep Shelley Pyramid and spokesman Simon Pocock said: “We were absolutely overwhelmed by the support we received.
“We expected 500 people but there was probably 800-1,000.
“People were just pulling up in their cars and joining the march. This shows the strength of feeling. It is all about people power.”
Shelley currently has a successful three-tier educational system with first and middle schools in what is known as the Shelley Pyramid.
But Shelley College, an independent academy which takes students from the age of 13 to 18, now wants to increase its roll to include children in years seven and eight, who currently attend Scissett or Kirkburton middle schools.
Angry parents say the pyramid, which has 17 first schools, could collapse if Shelley gets its way.
Mr Pocock, 40, who has a daughter aged nine and a son aged seven who attend St Aidan’s First School in Skelmanthorpe, said the march was a huge success.
The two-mile circular route started and finished at Skelmanthorpe Cricket Club, passing Shelley College on the way.
“Because so many people attended it took us twice as long as we expected and the march was about 700 yards long at one point,” said Mr Pocock.
The massive turnout proved that people cared deeply, he added.
“This wasn’t a lot of staff taking part, it was parents and children and that shows the depth of feeling.
“Parents are concerned that far from adding choice, choice is being taken away from them.
“We don’t expect Shelley College to actually listen to us but we have made it clear what our view is and they must recognise that strength of feeling.”
Mr Pocock said the three-tier system was working exceptionally well, a verdict which came from the schools inspectorate Ofsted.
“Ofsted said that youngsters in the area were one full academic year ahead of where they should be,” he said.
“It scares me that these standards could be put at risk because the 12 people running Shelley College want to build their school up.”
Mr Pocock urged parents to write letters of objection to the college, local Tory MP Simon Reevell, Kirklees Council and Education Secretary Michael Gove.
“This is about nothing more than naked ambition from Shelley College and it is only people power that will get this stopped,” he added.
“I want to thank every single parent who turned up for the march.
“Whatever happens in the end they will know they have done their best by their children”.
A SPECIAL meeting of Kirkburton Parish Council has been called over the Shelley College expansion plans.
The parish council wants to put forward its views as part of the public consultation.
It has invited representatives from Kirkburton and Scissett middle schools, Shelley College and the action group Keep Shelley Pyramid so that councillors can hear all sides.
The ‘extraordinary’ meeting will be held on Thursday, November 15, at 7.30pm at Flockton Green Working Men’s Club, Barnsley Road, Flockton.
Parish council chairman Clr Richard Burton (inset) said: “We are holding this extra meeting to ensure that the parish council has the opportunity of contributing to the consultations, particularly the Kirklees one.
“The deadline date for that is November 30, a week before our next usual meeting.”
Members of the public will have the opportunity to address the council at the start of the meeting.