Final bell tolls as era ends at special school

THE final bell tolled at Hartshead Moor School on Thursday – ending nearly 50 years of teaching.

The school, which serves pupils with learning difficulties and physical disabilities, has closed following a 25.2m reorganisation of special needs schools in Kirklees.

Most if its 88 pupils, and many of its staff, will now join Ravenshall School in Dewsbury, which has been extended and modernised.

Headteacher Ian McDonald told the Guardian and Herald: "It's a good school and people are emotional about the closure. Many have mixed feelings. The school has had a lot of success over the years and I'm sorry it has to close – but it is past its sell-by date.

"The type of accommodation offered here is not appropriate, while the new school at Ravenshall will have fantastic facilities more suited to the pupils' needs.

"We've formed strong links with the schools around us, Whitcliffe Mount, Spen Valley Sports College and Bradford College, and we've had a lot of support from the community over the years.

"The pupils are, understandably, partly excited and partly anxious about the move, but the seniors have enjoyed their visits and in the main have talked very positively about the change.

"What we do know is that the new school will provide the pupils with facilities that they deserve.

"I am confident that (deputy headteacher) John Page and all the staff transferring to Ravenshall will keep up the great work they do and sustain the spirit of Hartshead Moor School."

Mr McDonald will join the local education authority while his deputy, John Page, will join Ravenshall as deputy headteacher.

The school was opened in 1959 and caters for children with various disabilities, including special needs, physical disabilities and autism.

Pupils and parents held a farewell concert yesterday.

As part of the reorganisation, Fairfield School in Heckmondwike was transferred from Dale Lane to a new building in the grounds of Leeside Junior and Infant School, formerly White Lee Secondary School.

The new building has much-improved state-of-the-art facilities.