Farewell to our first schools

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COUNCIL chiefs have agreed to close St Luke’s and Moorend First Schools and establish a new primary school by this September.

The final bell will toll at both first schools in July, when they will merge to form a new Church of England (CoE) primary school for five-to-11-year-olds. Both schools will operate on their existing sites until building work is completed at Whitechapel Middle School next year.

The decision has been described as ‘the final brick in the wall’ for the reorganisation of Cleckheaton and Gomersal schools, as the council moves away from the present three-tier system.

Over £6m has been spent on the reorganisation, with Whitechapel Middle set for a £3m refurbishment. Work has already began at Scholes First School to enlarge the building for the new intake of pupils.

Cleckheaton councillor Kath Pinnock welcomed the move, saying: “What’s good is that they will spend a lot of money making Whitechapel a really good building to be a primary school for the future. I don’t think everyone is happy that this has happened, because no one likes schools to close, but this had to happen given some of the decisions made on the closure to the middle schools.”

Joint Cabinet members for children and families Coun Ken Smith and Coun Cath Harris have both backed the changes.

“The legal process means that the two existing schools would effectively close and a single new all through primary school for five to 11 year olds would immediately open in their place,” Coun Smith said.

“Initially the new school will be housed within the existing buildings of Moorend First School and St Luke’s First School and then move to the Whitechapel Road site when it is fully refurbished in 2012.”

He believed the changes would benefit children for several generations to come.

He said: “They will benefit from a new school which will bring together the expertise of staff from two outstanding schools. They will continue to enjoy the excellent provision currently available for families in the area in one newly refurbished building.”

Coun Harris said: “With the building works already begun at Scholes First and Nursery school and planned investment of over £1m for the new home for Heaton Avenue First and Nursery School on South Parade, there will be some £6m of investment for Cleckheaton schools.”