Parents object to merger of Harrogate's Woodfield and Grove Road primary schools

Parents objecting about the merger of two Harrogate primary schools claim it will be unfair on some pupils after one school was judged inadequate by inspectors.

By Jacob Webster
Friday, 18th February 2022, 12:03 pm
Updated Friday, 18th February 2022, 12:07 pm
Woodfield Community Primary School. Photo: Google.
Woodfield Community Primary School. Photo: Google.

Woodfield Primary School and Grove Road Community Primary School will become one in September 2022 if the proposals are approved.

The plans are set to be progressed at a North Yorkshire County Council meeting on Tuesday after a consultation with parents, staff and governors ended in January.

Concerns have been raised that the move will cause disruption for pupils and parents, some of which said Woodfield Primary School should remain as it is after it was judged inadequate by Ofsted in January 2020.

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Grove Road Primary School.

"Woodfield School's problems should not become Grove Road's problems," one parent said.

Inspectors said pupils at Woodfield were being “let down” by poor leadership and that “too many pupils do not achieve what they are capable of.”

Any council-run school which is rated inadequate is required to become a sponsored academy.

However, no sponsor could be found for Woodfield, and the county council instead put forward plans for the merger with good-rated Grove Road.

Stuart Carlton, the county council's corporate director of children and young people’s services, said in a report: "While it is acknowledged that the proposed closure of Woodfield Community Primary School will cause uncertainty and disruption for pupils, parents and staff, Grove Road School would work closely with parents, as both schools do now, to meet the needs of individual children.

"Several consultees have noted the benefits of the Woodfield site including the large grassed area not available at Grove Road.

"It is proposed that the additional space freed up at the Grove Road site will be developed into specialist provision, intervention areas and library spaces."

The proposed merger has been agreed by both governing bodies of the schools, and statutory proposals will be published in March if councillors vote in favour of progressing the plans on Tuesday.

After this, a final decision on the move would then be made by the county council's executive in April.

Commenting on the proposals, one parent said: "After the past two years the children have had, I think the uproot out of a school they love and know is not good for mental health and a total disregard for the children and parents of Woodfield."

Another said: "Our family really hope that this amalgamation never happens, otherwise our family and many parents I know will choose for their kids to go to St Peter's School."

Meanwhile, one parent commented in favour of the merger, saying her disabled child had a much improved experience at Grove Road after leaving Woodfield.

They said: "Having been a parent of a SEND child at Woodfield nearly three years ago... I saw the decline in leadership and poor care of my child's needs.

"We left this school because we were tired of fighting and getting nowhere.

"I've no doubt that under Grove Road leadership, the Woodfield site will become a thriving and flourished school again."

If the proposals go ahead, nursery aged children will attend the site at Woodfield, which will be re-named Grove Road Nursery, from September.

Eventually all Key Stage One pupils will be taught at the Woodfield site, with Key Stage Two being taught at the larger Grove Road site.

By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter