2,000 rally to 'SOS' school

Issue 465

AN INTERNET campaign has been launched to save a Batley school from being moved in a controversial education shakeup.
More than 2,000 people have joined a Facebook group aimed at keeping Batley Girls’ High School (BGHS) on its Howden Clough site.
The secondary, a specialist visual arts college, is to be closed and rebuilt on land next to Batley Business and Enterprise College in Field Hill. Both would remain single sex while a new mixed sex academy, to be run by private firm EAct, will replace the girls’ school in Howden Clough.
BGHS headteacher Jackie Eames led a delegation to Wednesday’s full Kirklees Council meeting, which was watched online at the school by staff and pupils.
The twin approach is a lastditch attempt by Mrs Eames to force education chiefs to rethink their plans which she claims are threatened by two planned ‘free schools’ in the area.
Kirklees bosses came up with the reorganisation as a way to encourage white parents, who prefer mixed sex schools, to use local secondaries. But proposed ‘free schools’ in Birkenshaw and at Batley Grammar, both of which will be coeducational, have thrown the plans into confusion.
Mrs Eames believes the ‘free schools’ would offer between them enough mixed sex secondary places.
She said: “David Cameron visited Birkenshaw during the election campaign, so it seems unlikely that the Government will say ‘no’ to them. And Brigid Tullie (Batley Grammar’s head teacher) is quoted on a Government website promoting ‘free schools’, so she must be confident of approval.
“If both go ahead, as we expect, the EAct academy won’t be needed. There’ll be about 500 surplus mixed sex places in our area.”
Kirklees cabinet member for children and families Coun Ken Smith confirmed the possibility of surplus places but said it was out of the council’s hands.
He said: “When we lost the Buildings Schools for the Future (BSF) money, the first thing I asked was ‘can we do a rethink?’ and the Government said no.
“These decisions were made as part of BSF. We made all the decisions we could at the time and now there are no more decisions we can take.
“I’ve nothing against the girls’ school in its current form. It performs very well. We’d revisit the decisions if we could.”

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