‘Free School’ decision nears

KIDS' VOICE: BBGPA member Lisa Holmes with Harrison Hector, James Robinson, Laura Holdsworth, Joseph Smith and Hollie Smith. (d26021174)
KIDS' VOICE: BBGPA member Lisa Holmes with Harrison Hector, James Robinson, Laura Holdsworth, Joseph Smith and Hollie Smith. (d26021174)

CAMPAIGNERS for a new ‘free school’ in Birkenshaw will find out whether the Government will give them the green light by the end of April.

The Birkenshaw, Birstall and Gomersal Parents’ Alliance submits its business case to the Department for Education over the weekend. It then faces an anxious wait to see if its plan for a new, independent high school gets the go ahead.

If successful, the school could open next September on the current site of Birkenshaw Middle School.

On Saturday, BBGPA held a public event at Birkenshaw Community Hall to ask children to get their say on the potential uniform designs, including ties and blazers.

Spokeswoman Lesley Surman said: “The children were asked to think about their uniforms and what they want to wear at their new school. A lot of them wanted to know why uniforms are so important, but a lot of the boys were keen on blazers.”

The children, mainly year five and six pupils, cut out cardboard ties carrying their designs, under the lens of a television film crew.

For the last year, an ITV documentary crew has been following the group’s quest and it will be on the Tonight programme with Julie Etchingham next Thursday.

“There’s been a crew following BBGPA to find out how we’ve got to the point we are now,” said Mrs Surman.

“They have interviewed members of the committee and asked why we want this new school to happen. The idea is that we are in a unique area and our needs are different to those of other parts of the country. This week we have been putting the finishing touches to our business case and going through the ethos of the school and why we would be unique. We’re going through it page by page to make sure we follow the guidelines.”

BBGPA’s plan has attracted criticism from opponents who claim it would take away funding from the government’s Local Schools Formula grant, which the parents’ group strongly denies.