JUBILANT parents celebrated last night after councillors agreed to set up a new school in Huddersfield.
Holmfirth High governors will establish a new school on the site of Fartown High in September after beating off opposition from two rival bidders.
Dozens of parents and pupils who had crammed in to Huddersfield Town Hall’s Council Chamber cheered and clapped as Kirklees Council’s Cabinet unanimously backed Holmfirth.
“I think it was an excellent decision,” said Azher Latif of Fartown Parents Action Group moments after the vote.
“This is just the start of a long journey, but the passion is there if everyone pulls together.”
Holmfirth High head teacher Andrew Williams has been in charge of Fartown High for the last year, overseeing an improvement in GCSE results.
“We’re delighted that the council has put its trust in us,” he said.
“There are some big challenges ahead, but what we’ve seen today is a desire from the community to work with the school. That’s what the new school will be about.”
Mr Williams added: “We want to make sure that the school becomes outstanding.”
The new school will be set up at Fartown High in September but may move to a purpose-built site elsewhere in north Huddersfield if funds become available.
The school will have a number of partners including the Parents of Black Children and Cummins Turbo Technologies but it will also work closely with Kirklees.
The council decided to close Fartown High because it was consistently under-subscribed. There are currently just 400 pupils at a site with room for 900.
Kirklees leader Clr Mehboob Khan spoke of his fondness for the school which he and his two sons attended.
The Greenhead Labour man said: “I had very enjoyable years at Fartown and the school had a very good reputation in those years.
“There was a very unfair Ofsted report eight or nine years ago which didn’t recognise the achievements of the school’s work with some of the poorest kids in north Huddersfield.
“The school’s reputation took a significant knock. The decision we have to take today is no reflection on the hard work of staff and parents.”
The council’s Cabinet member for children Clr Ken Smith spoke of his sadness at shutting the school.
The Ashbrow Labour man said: “It’s with a heavy heart that we vote to close Fartown High.
“The reasons for its lack of pupils are not clear and not always logical.”
Clr Smith added that “on a very fine balance” he believed the Holmfirth High bid was better than those from the Church of England and London-based company E-ACT.
The Cabinet then voted unanimously for the Holmfirth bid.
Holmfirth High School made the bid to run the new school in partnership with the University of the First Age; Parents of Black Children Association; Kirklees Active Leisure and Cummins Turbo Technologies
The new school is likely to ask four more groups to become partners: Deighton and Brackenhall Initiative, two community groups and one of Huddersfield’s sixth form colleges
The governing body will also include representatives of parents, staff and Kirklees Council
According to the bid, the new school’s values will include: A strong sense of community; a sense of purpose, fun and vibrancy; a strong sense of order and a place where respect will be encouraged
The school will be open from 7.30am to 9.30pm on weekdays and from 9am to 4pm on weekends
Pupils will have five hours of sport and five hours of cultural activities each week
The new school will adopt Kirklees Council’s admission criteria
It will be a co-educational school for 11 to 16-year-olds and will eventually have 171 children per school year
The bidders are aiming for 37% of pupils to get five GCSEs from A* to C next year. By 2017 they hope this number will have risen to 75% .