Harrogate school's future still unclear as major shake-up locked in

Grove staff and supporters during strike action earlier this year.
Grove staff and supporters during strike action earlier this year.

The new way that some of the region's most vulnerable young people will be educated has been confirmed, however plans for Harrogate's Grove Academy remain up in the air.

North Yorkshire County Council’s executive took less than five minutes to pass proposals to change the way children at risk of exclusion from schools are handled, which the authority has described as moving to a “preventative and inclusive culture”.

The county’s plans will provide 162 full-time equivalent places at key stage three and four, which can be accessed in the pupil referral service and other venues by schools, in a bid to drive down permanent exclusion.

"This new plan creates a more preventative and inclusive mainstream culture and more localised provision," Coun Patrick Mulligan, North Yorkshire’s executive member for education, said ahead of the meeting.

According to the council, the new model of provision has been agreed in principle in all areas of the county, although final arrangements are still to be made in Harrogate depending on decisions on sponsorship of the Grove pupil referral service, which is operated by the Delta Academies Trust.

"We now urge all stakeholders in Harrogate to agree to a model for the area as a matter of priority so that like the rest of the county, they are ready to deliver this model in the best interests of young people from September 2020," Coun Mulligan said.

Future funding for the Grove remains unclear from Easter next year.
Earlier this month one of the unions representing Grove staff stated that Delta had guaranteed there'd be no compulsory redundancies before Easter 2020. The future remains uncertain beyond that.

Harrogate and Knaresborough MP Andrew Jones confirmed earlier this month that he had met with representatives from the Grove and the county council regarding funding issues for the academy.

"I have repeatedly said that both sides need to try harder to reach a satisfactory conclusion and I remain disappointed that, for whatever reason, this does not seem to be happening," he said.

“The Grove Academy pointed out to me that the changes to their budget and the consequent effect of the system for dealing with pupil exclusions are timed to happen at the beginning of the next financial year.

"The financial year does not coincide with the school year.

"It makes sense to me that, where possible, changes to school budgets and to school systems should coincide with the start of a school year. In this way schools can plan and budget more effectively."

Lachlan Leeming, Local Democracy Reporter