Harrogate school takes funding fight to the London steps of Government

Grove teachers with Labour MP Sir Keir Starmer in London.
Grove teachers with Labour MP Sir Keir Starmer in London.

Harrogate's Grove Academy have taken their funding plight to the Government's doorstep in London, as part of a fortnight-long stretch of strike action triggered by changes to the county's high needs budget.

Harrogate's Grove Academy have taken their funding plight to the Government's doorstep in London, as part of a fortnight-long stretch of strike action triggered by changes to the county's high needs budget.

Grove teachers Kate Kersey, Alex Boyce, Chris Kitson and Richard Hughes outside the High Court in London on Wednesday, June 26.

Grove teachers Kate Kersey, Alex Boyce, Chris Kitson and Richard Hughes outside the High Court in London on Wednesday, June 26.

Staff from the Grove joined forces with a national campaign, the SEND Action group, which saw families and supporters of high needs students from around the country gather at London's High Court on June 26.

'Rebooted' North Yorkshire high needs education structure revealed

The national campaign was backing a High Court challenge launched by three families - including one from North Yorkshire - against the Government over underfunding of special needs provision nationwide.

If successful, the challenge could force the Government into a rethink of how it funds high needs budgets across the country.

The mock funeral procession at Northallerton on June 25.

The mock funeral procession at Northallerton on June 25.

A judgement on the case is expected to be known at a later date.

The London movement was joined by further action in North Yorkshire last week.

Harrogate school faces 'closure by Christmas' over funding cuts

On Tuesday, strikers staged a mock funeral procession through Northallerton to mark the death of 'North Yorkshire’s Children’s Services', complete with an imitation coffin.

That was followed by Grove staff and supporters picketing outside the Grove before posting nearly 800 protest postcards through the door of Harrogate and Knaresborough MP Andrew Jones' office.

The extended strike action comes after education unions announced last month that the Grove faced closure by Christmas.

The unions haven't ruled out further strike action.

North Yorkshire County Council's assistant director for inclusion, Jane le Sage, said last week the authority was attempting to convey to Government-level that the local education system was "buckling".

“In North Yorkshire we are also making our case loud and clear to Government for an urgent increase in funding for our high needs budget and this year gave evidence to the Education Select Committee on the significant challenges we face," she said.

“Council leaders across the region agree the system is buckling and are calling on both the Chancellor and Secretary for Education to ensure that a full funding increase becomes a top priority for the next spending review to stem spiralling overspending."

North Yorkshire faces a £5.5m high needs overspend in the current financial year.

Lachlan Leeming, Local Democracy Reporter