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Campaign to save ‘lifeblood’ school
Residents are fighting for the survival of their community which they say would be threatened by the closure of the its only school.
Kirklees Council has drafted proposals for the reorganisation of education in North Kirklees from a three-tier system to a two-tier system as part of its Building Schools for the Future programme.
Residents are being consulted on three options, two of which would see East Bierley First School close.
The school is being considered for expansion, to take ten and 11-year-olds, but it is not deemed as good value for money by planners.
Under the other schemes, Birkenshaw First School would either be expanded, transformed into an all-through primary or remodelled as a one-class entry primary, while a new primary school would be built on the site of Birkenshaw Middle School. Parents have been campaigning for a secondary school at the Birkenshaw Middle School site but the Council has devised another consultation proposal to build a secondary at Howden Clough, in Batley, instead.
Residents and parents are highlighting their opposition to the closure of East Bierley First School today by arranging scarecrows dressed up as schoolchildren to spell out SOS on the village green.
Resident Colin Springthorpe, 75, said he had offered a parcel of land, free of charge, to compensate for the school to expand on to surrounding common land.
He said: “I have already belonged to a village that died after the closure of its school and before that its post offices. Over a year or two the community spirit was destroyed and the village no longer exists.” Former Kirklees Council leader, ward councillor Robert Light (Con), whose daughter goes to East Bierley First School, said: “It’s an outrage that a school whose achievements have been outstanding consistently, and a school that contributes to the very lifeblood of the village, should be threatened with closure.”
Parent Martin Anderson, 41, said: “If the school closes, the playgroup which feeds into it will close.”
A Kirklees Council spokesman said: “The Council is running a four-week consultation to gather views from parents and carers, staff, governors, pupils and the wider community about options as to how best to invest in future primary provision to serve the Birkenshaw and East Bierley area.”
The Council is holding public meetings at Birkenshaw First School on Thursday and at East Bierley First School on Thursday, June 25. Both start at 6pm.