PROTESTERS angry at plans to axe a popular school will this week take their opposition right to the Prime Minister.
A group of parents and pupils are going to 10 Downing Street on Wednesday to hand in a petition against the controversial proposed closure of Mirfield’s Castle Hall School to Gordon Brown.
The petition calls for the school to be kept open and comes as 11-year-old new Castle Hall pupil Jasmine Wilkinson speaks out against the plan.
And parents have kept up the pressure on Kirklees Council this weekend with a protest march from Ravensthorpe to Mirfield.
Jasmine said: “It’s a really small school in a kind, loving community.
“I have only been attending Castle Hall for a few weeks and already I’m starting to know a lot of people in my year.”
Last month the council announced a £200m reorganisation of schools in north Kirklees.
Parents are being consulted on the plan, which includes closing Castle Hall by 2013 and transferring pupils to an expanded Mirfield Free Grammar.
But Jasmine, who lives in Mirfield, thinks this is bad idea.
“A school with more than 2,000 pupils would not have a community feel,” she said. “I would feel lost and scared to make friends.”
Jasmine also believes the quality of teaching at Castle Hall would decline if councillors decide to close it.
She said: “People are saying this proposal won’t affect Year 7, but by the time I’m doing my GCSEs all the good teachers will have left.”
And she added: “There are two schools in Mirfield which are both way above the national average grades. What is the point of closing down a school which is very high achieving?
“Why fix something that doesn’t need fixing?”
Jasmine’s dad, Alan, agrees.
He said: “Castle Hall has been the most successful comprehensive school in Kirklees for the last two years for GCSE pass grades from A* to C including maths and English.
“The school is over-subscribed, has a distinct culture and ethos, has a specialist provision for languages and is the first choice for many parents.
“How then can closing it possibly comply with Government policy?”
About 250 pupils, parents and supporters turned out for the protest march on a chilly Saturday morning to keep up the pressure on Kirklees Council’s Cabinet to keep Castle Hall open.
Click here for pictures of the march.
Marina Poppa and her 11-year-old daughter, Jasmine Greaves, were among those taking part.
Ms Poppa said: “Jasmine is in Year 7 now and is really enjoying it.
“The only thing is the uncertainty over the school’s future, but we are feeling so much more optimistic now.
“Seeing how strong the support is for the school makes us all think we can make a difference.
“We have the backing from some key people. MP Shahid Malik is very supportive, as are the councillors, who have said they will fight closure.’’
Among the group who will be at No 10 on Wednesday will be Ms Poppa, Jasmine and her 10-year-old sister, Sadie, who is a pupil at Crowlees Junior School but who hopes to go to Castle Hall.
Ms Poppa added: “As a result of this young people have been able to see democracy in action.
“It has made people see that they can make a difference if we all pull together and that’s what we will continue to do.”
Mr Malik has agreed to show the protesters round the House of Commons after the petition has been handed over.