Woodfield primary school set to close in September


Last updated Nov 15, 2021
Woodfield Community Primary School, Harrogate.
Woodfield Community Primary School

Woodfield Community Primary School and nearby Grove Road Community Primary School look set to amalgamate next year.

Under plans to be discussed by councillors next week, Woodfield would be effectively swallowed up by the bigger Grove Road, which would operate as a split-site 280-pupil school.

The Woodfield site would initially operate as a nursery for children from both schools while Grove Road would cater for all children from reception to year six.

Then from September 2023, all nursery children and reception pupils would be based at the current Woodfield site, which would eventually accommodate all key stage 1 pupils. All key stage 2 children would be based at the current Grove Road site.

North Yorkshire County Council revealed plans last month to merge the two schools. A meeting on Tuesday next week will see councillors asked to approve putting the wheels in motion.

If approved, a six-week consultation will start on December 2 and a final decision taken on April 19.

The council says amalgamation is necessary because Woodfield has been unable to find an academy willing to take it on since it was rated inadequate by Ofsted in January last year.

But some parents have vowed to fight the move because they feel the school has made significant progress — a view supported by an Ofsted monitoring visit in June, which said ‘leaders and managers are taking effective action towards the removal of special measures’.

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Some parents with more than one child have also expressed concern about having to drop off and collect from both schools, which are 0.6 miles apart.

A report to councillors says:

“The intention is to have a walking bus, across the iron bridge to the back of the Woodfield playing field, that enables parents to drop their child at either school and then children who need to will be able to walk safely to the other site accompanied by school staff.

“We will look at the timings of the school day to ensure that parents who choose to drop off or collect children from both sites are able to do so.

“Grove Road school also have wrap around care provision that will continue to be available from 7:30am to 5:30pm. Other opportunities, including clubs, will be looked at closely across both sites.”

80 fewer primary school places

The report also says that if the proposals go ahead, there would be 350 primary school places available across the two sites compared with the current 280 at Grove Road and 150 at Woodfield — an overall reduction of 80 places.

However, Woodfield only currently has 49 pupils, compared with 92 in January 2019.

The report adds that forecasts suggested “there would appear to be sufficient primary places available in the local area” and cites as evidence declining birth rates in Harrogate district, from 1,425 in 2016/17 to 1,308 in 2018/19.

It says the financial position of schools is “dependent on both pupil numbers and the level of staffing”

Woodfield, it adds, has projected in-year budget deficits of £119,000 in the financial year 2021/22, £103,300 in 2022/23 and £128,400 in 2023/24, and a forecast cumulative budget deficit of £98,000 in 2021/22, £201,400 in 2022/23 and £329,900 in 2023/24.

Grove Road, by contrast, is predicted to make surpluses in the corresponding years.

The report says any deficit on the Woodfield school budget “would be absorbed by the county council”.

It adds:

“A separate HR consultation process for staff and their professional associations will commence in the spring term and the governing
bodies will most likely propose an internal transfer of staff from Woodfield to Grove Road, following Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) (TUPE) principles.”


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