Parents' anger and worry over potential closure of Harrogate's Woodfield Primary School

Parents have voiced their anger and concerns over the potential closure of Harrogate's Woodfield Community Primary School.

By Jacob Webster
Friday, 17th June 2022, 12:33 pm
Updated Friday, 17th June 2022, 12:35 pm
Woodfield Community Primary School could close in December.
Woodfield Community Primary School could close in December.

A closure consultation is currently underway after the "inadequate" rated school failed to find an academy sponsor following an Ofsted inspection and years of dwindling pupil numbers.

Woodfield had 154 pupils in 2018, but this has now fallen to just 37 in a big drop which has forced the school into financial difficulties.

At a public meeting on Wednesday, parents, former staff and residents turned out to oppose the closure of the school which they said is a "vital" part of the local community.

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One parent, James Poole, said he was worried that another suitable school could not be found for his disabled child. He said: "My kid hasn't got a place now - there is nowhere that can take care of his special needs.

"This is the only school that can cope and you are planning on closing it."

Grandparent Aytach Sadik added: "This is all a waste of time because everyone has already made up their minds that this place is going to close."

Morag Plummer, who previously worked at the school where her children and grandchildren attended, also said parents, pupils and staff had been "badly let down" by the local education authority.

She said: "In the last seven years, Woodfield has not got the support it needed from North Yorkshire County Council.

"Before that, it was a thriving school.

"My friends are so upset about this and their children are heartbroken."

In response, Andrew Dixon, strategic planning manager for children and young people’s services at the council, insisted a final decision on the school had not yet been made and that all concerns would be considered during the consultation which ends on 4 July.

He also responded to claims that the council wanted to sell the school site for housing.

He said: "Any decision about the future use of this site would not be considered until it is clear whether the closure will proceed or not.

"I can say though, if it happens, the first consideration of the county council will be whether this site can be put to any other educational use for the community."

Mr Dixon also set out three potential options for where pupils would be moved if the school closes.

He said the current catchment area would either fall under Grove Road or Bilton Grange Primary Schools, or be shared by the two schools.

Also at last night's meeting, Gary McVeigh-Kaye, regional secretary of the National Education Union, offered to lead a campaign to save the school from the potential closure which he described as “disgusting and immoral”.

Mr McVeigh-Kaye also pointed the finger at the government for the situation the school finds itself in.

He said: "It is true that pupils have been let down, but they have not been let down by the teachers and staff who work hard everyday.

"They have been let down by Ofsted, the government and the regional schools commissioner."

The closure consultation is being carried out following a request by governors at the school which was previously set to merge with the nearby Grove Road Community Primary School before that school pulled out of the proposals.

After the consultation ends, a decision on whether to publish statutory closure proposals will be made by the council's executive next month.

A further four-week consultation would then follow ahead of a final decision by the council on 19 October.

By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter