A NEW high school six years in the making opened on Wednesday with the aim of solving a mixed sex places row.
The BBG Academy threw open its doors at the remodelled premises of the former Birkenshaw Middle School on Bradford Road.
An 11 to 16 secondary, BBG has an initial roll of about 350 pupils and will eventually cater for up to 750 children.
Parents in Birstall who would normally send youngsters to the 1,500-pupil Bruntcliffe High in Morley are believed to have flocked to BBG.
Standing for Birstall, Birkenshaw and Gomersal, BBG has a catchment area stretching to the A62 Gelderd Road.
It came out of a failed Kirklees Council school rebuilding scheme that was cancelled by the Government.
Kirklees rejected proposals for a school in Birkenshaw in favour of one in Batley, which campaigners thought was too far away.
The council scheme was then axed, leaving the problem of a perceived lack of mixed sex school provision unanswered.
Parents in Birstall in particular have sent their children outside the area to Bruntcliffe for years over the issue.
Campaigners took their idea for an academy to the Government and won permission for it to be one of their flagship ‘free schools’.
An expanded Batley Grammar has a catchment area covering Howden Clough, meaning that between the two schools Birstall is covered for mixed sex places.
Coun Robert Light (Con, Birstall and Birkshaw), who was involved in the campaign to set up the school, said: “It’s great to see BBG open and all the children in their smart new uniforms.
“Parents have responded to the style of education on offer. It’s about nurturing and achievement.
“It’s also about teachers knowing every pupil by name, not as a number. You won’t get that at a bigger school."
Academy principal Jo-anne Atkinson said: “Our community fought long and hard to get secondary school provision in this area.
“BBG is an aspirational school with some inspirational new buildings for pupils to learn in. We look forward to seeing them succeed.”