86% support plans to open autism school in Harrogate
Aug 14, 2023
The Woodfield Community Primary School is now derelict.

Plans to open a £3.5 million school for children with autism in Harrogate have received strong support in a consultation.

North Yorkshire Council revealed plans in May to open the school for up to 80 pupils aged 11 to 19 on the site of the former Woodfield Community Primary School.

The six-week consultation, which ended on July 24, saw 90 out of the 105 responses – a total of 86 per cent – support the proposal.

Supporters said the site would be “ideal” for providing a safe learning environment, and that a special school was “absolutely necessary”.

But the consultation also highlighted a number of concerns.

Some people were disappointed the school won’t cater for primary school children.

Others asked why the existing special needs school Springwater School in Starbeck was not offered the Woodfield site as a satellite, or why the special education needs Forest School in Knaresborough wasn’t developed.

Woodfield School

The school closed in December.

The Conservative-controlled North Yorkshire Council’s executive will discuss the consultation next week.

Cllr Annabel Wilkinson, the council’s executive member for education, learning and skills, said:

“The new facility would help meet a rising demand for special school places in Harrogate, Knaresborough, Ripon and the surrounding area.

“Currently there are 432 children with the primary need of autism accessing existing North Yorkshire special schools and we are committed to providing further support.

“If given the go-head, the redeveloped school would provide children and families with a more local offer of provision that is currently unavailable without significant travel.”

The target opening date for the school is September next year. There are no planned changes to the community library and children’s centre on the same site.

Woodfield Community Primary School closed at the end of December after an “inadequate” rating by Ofsted and a decline in pupil numbers.

Read more: