Future of Woodfield school uncertain as Grove Road merger dropped


Apr 7, 2022
Woodfield Community Primary School, Harrogate.

A proposed amalgamation of two Harrogate primary schools is set to be shelved.

The plan would have seen Woodfield Community Primary School close and become part of Grove Road Community Primary School, which would be based across the two sites from September.

However, governors at Grove Road have withdrawn their support for the plans.

It leaves the future of Woodfield hanging in the balance, with its governors saying they need time to consider what will happen next.

They said:

‘’We are saddened to hear about Grove Road’s decision to withdraw support for the amalgamation.

“It has been a difficult time for Woodfield School, and we were very hopeful​​​ that a satisfactory conclusion could 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.’’

Woodfield School parents

Some Woodfield school parents spoke out against the merger.

The proposal had been met with shock and disappointment from some residents, who said they valued the school and did not want to see it closed. A consultation was held for parents and the wider community to enable the schools and North Yorkshire County Council to gather people’s views.

However, the county council is now proposing that the amalgamation should not proceed, with a decision to be made by its executive on April 19.

The merger was put forward after Woodfield was rated inadequate by Ofsted, forcing it to look to be taken on by a multi-academy trust. Ofsted inspectors found the school was making progress, but no academy could be found to take Woodfield on.

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Today, Grove Road’s governors said in a statement:

“When first approached about the amalgamation the leadership and governors could see the potential benefits of the proposal for the communities of both schools and were supportive of the consultation. However, a change of such significance also carries risk.

“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.”

North Yorkshire County Council’s executive member for education and skills, Cllr Patrick Mulligan, told the Stray Ferret in November that the council would have liked to give Woodfield school more time, but its hands were tied by national policy.

He also said the process could be a “downward spiral”, with a poor rating resulting in fewer applications and admissions, then a struggle to make the school viable.

Today, North Yorkshire County Council’s director of children and young people services, Stuart Carlton, said:

“Any proposal to expand a school onto an additional site is a significant change with challenges that should not be underestimated. So, while we are disappointed the proposal is no longer supported, we fully understand why Grove Road governors now have that view.

“I would like to thank the leadership and governors of both schools for their efforts in working with us on this amalgamation proposal.

“We will now need to work alongside the Department for Education and governors at Woodfield primary to re-consider the position for the school over the coming weeks before we are able to comment further.” 


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