Two more successful state schools under threat of closure as a result of academy expansion plans


Two more state schools rated “good” or “outstanding” by the education standards watchdog Ofsted are under threat as a result of a flagship academy’s expansion plans.

The threat to two middle schools in Kirklees, Yorkshire – Kirkburton and Scissett – emerged after The Independent revealed how Harrowden Middle School in Bedford, rated good with outstanding features, is to close after a neighbouring academy announced it would be competing for its pupils.

Headteachers’ leaders warned its fate could be mirrored across the country as councils were left with fewer options on school closures as the number of Education Secretary Michael Gove’s academies grew.

In Kirklees, Shelley College -an academy which currently takes in 13 to 18-year-olds- is consulting over plans to extend its remit and start admitting 11-year-olds from September 2014.

Parents at the two middle schools have already launched a protest campaign over the plan – warning that it will pose a threat to their future.

One of them, Scissett, is rated as “outstanding” by Ofsted – scoring top marks in almost every area inspected by the watchdog.

Its report on the school said: “This is an outstanding school... No stone is left unturned in the pursuit of providing the best possible education for pupils through high quality teaching and learning and a rick curriculum.

“Pupils’ enjoyment is plain for all to see their attendance rates are high. Pupils’ behaviour is exemplary at all times.”

Their report on Kirkburton concluded it was “good” with outstanding features, adding: “Their (the pupils’ excellent behaviour and high levels of attendance contribute well to their leasrning. Pupils are very polite, courteous and responsible.”

In its consultation document, Shelley College describes its plan as “a once in a generation opportunity to extend educational choice in our community”.

It says its A-level results put it in the top 25 per cent of schools in England and that it is “one of the most successful schools in the country”.

It warns parents that – if its plan gets the go ahead – it will not be able to guarantee parents a place at the college if they send their children to the middle schools and then seek to transfer at 13.

Stephen Jones, a parent with two children at Kirkburton, said in a letter to his local newspaper: “This is not widening choice, it is removing choice: the choice by parents to continue with the existing excellent three-tier system.”

Kirklees Council is conducting its own investigation into parents’ reaction to the scheme – although it acknowledges it will not be able to stop Shelley College from pressing ahead with its plans.

A spokesman said: “The council’s first priority is to make sure that all local children and young people have the opportunity to attend excellent schools, helping them to achieve their potential.

“If changes are to take place, they must be well-planned and carried out over a reasonable period of time to ensure that we can all have confidence in a stable high-quality system.”

In the case of Harrowden Middle School, the neighbouring academy took over from a struggling secondary school. Despite making satisfactory progress, according to Ofsted, its standards are still below the national average. Its nearest lower school failed its inspection amid speculation it, too, could be turned into an academy.

Meanwhile, Stephen Twigg, Labour’s education spokesman, sounded a note of caution over the drive to create more academies yesterday.

Speaking to a conference of the Independent Academies Association, he said: “Academies have achieved great things... but progress is not limited to academies.”

He added: “The thing that strikes me about what drives successful schools is excellent leadership. Excellence is not the preserve of any one type of school, it is the preserve of exemplary leadership.

“I worry that the principal foundations for successful early academies – that of collaboration and partnership – have been replaced by a fixation on a numbers game.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksNow available in paperback
The 67P/CG comet as seen from the Philae lander
scienceThe most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Ian McKellen as Gandalf in The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Koenig, creator of popular podcast Serial, which is to be broadcast by the BBC
tvReview: The secret to the programme's success is that it allows its audience to play detective
Ruby Wax has previously written about her mental health problems in her book Sane New World
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Recruitment Genius: Qualified Nursery Practitioner - Sevenoaks

£15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently have an opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Room Leader - Nursery

£17000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently have an opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Assessor / Trainer

£25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity to join ...

Ashdown Group: Payroll Manager - London - £200 p/d.

£190 - £200 per day: Ashdown Group: Payroll & Finance Manager - Covent Garden,...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie