Councillor says future of Harrogate primary school now a matter of ‘extreme urgency’
Last updated Apr 19, 2022
Grove Road Primary School and Woodfield Primary School

The future of Harrogate’s Woodfield Primary School needs to be treated as a matter of “extreme urgency”, a councillor has said.

Councillor Paul Haslam’s comments come after the nearby Grove Road Primary School announced it had pulled out of a proposed merger with the inadequate-rated Woodfield.

After months of planning, the surprise announcement came last week and a decision to scrap the move was approved by North Yorkshire County Council’s executive today.

Councillor Haslam, who represents the Bilton area and is a school governor at Woodfield, told a meeting that parents and pupils had become very concerned about the school’s future and that the county council now needed to make “some very quick decisions” to offer reassurances.

He said:

“Woodfield is regarded as an area of deprivation, and both the local MP Andrew Jones and I believe that education is a proven way out of poverty and agree that a school needs to remain in the Woodfield area.

“It’s absolutely vital that a school is maintained there in my opinion.

“It’s also a matter of extreme urgency to reassure the existing pupils and their parents.”

Councillor Patrick Mulligan, executive member for education at the county council, also said a final decision on the future of Woodfield would now have to be made by the incoming North Yorkshire Council.

The existing county council previously said it will work with the Department for Education and governors at Woodfield to “re-consider the position for the school over the coming weeks before we are able to comment further.”

The school was rated as inadequate by Ofsted in 2020 when inspectors said pupils were being “let down” by poor leadership and that “too many pupils do not achieve what they are capable of”.

The school then failed to find an academy sponsor, before governors at Grove Road agreed to the proposed merger.

Although some parents objected to the move, the two schools were set to become one in September after a statutory notice was published by the county council.

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However, Grove Road last week announced it was pulling out of the merger which it said “carries risk” for the future of the good-rated school. The school’s governing body said:

“During the consultation period we have monitored factors such as the level of support for the proposal and the likely demand for school places.

“Ultimately, the governing board have concluded that we must prioritise the future of Grove Road School and so, sadly, we can no longer support the proposed amalgamation.”

Meanwhile, Woodfield’s governing body said it was “saddened” by the decision. It said:

“It has been a difficult time for Woodfield School, and we were very hopeful​​​ that a satisfactory conclusion could be found for the future of the school.

“The school, staff, parents, and governors need a time of reflection before we make any decisions regarding the school’s future.

“We will continue to consult with North Yorkshire County Council regarding any future decisions.”

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