‘Birkenshaw High School’ moves a step closer

STOCK PIC'Birkenshaw Middle School. (230803)
STOCK PIC'Birkenshaw Middle School. (230803)
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campaigners have moved closer to establishing a new secondary school in Birkenshaw.

The likelihood increased this week that a new 11-16 school can be opened in September 2013, after it was revealed that governors from Birkenshaw Middle School had lodged an application to become an academy.

The move has halted Kirklees Council’s plans to close the school and move the first school onto the site, which received strong objections from the community.

Academy status for the middle school would mean it was taken out of Kirklees Council’s control – and could not be closed.

The academy bid has been made in conjunction with the BBG Academy Trust, which has been campaigning for four years to open a high school in the village.

The trust wants to start a government-backed ‘free school’ at the middle site.

At a meeting on Wednesday, cabinet members agreed to postpone any further decision until the academy issue and funding matters were resolved.

Cabinet member for communities Coun Molly Walton said: “At the moment we feel we must await further information and officers’ recommendations.

“That includes the severely restricted capital funding for the next few years.”

If the academy bid fails, the option to create a free school could still be on the table for the trust.

Birkenshaw First School governors have already stated they would consider their own academy bid, to keep the school on its current site. That too would block the council’s reorganisation plans.

Speaking after the meeting, BBG Academy Trust member and Tory leader Coun Robert Light said: “The reason we have made the application in conjunction with the middle school is so that the result in 2013 is the same.

“The end result is that there will be a BBG Academy in 2013. The only thing to resolve is how that is to be – either as an academy or a free school.”