Update on Almondbury Community School

A special meeting of councillors has agreed that the decision to make changes at Almondbury Community School (ACS) in Huddersfield can now go ahead.

A Kirklees Scrutiny Panel reviewed the recent Cabinet decision to close the secondary phase of ACS, making it a primary school from September 2020 onwards.

The Panel focused on specific areas which were outlined when the decision was ‘called in’ for review. These included questions about the capacity of secondary school places locally; the availability of information; and legislation relevant to the statutory notice.

After listening to a wide range of evidence from Cabinet members, other councillors and members of the public, the Panel highlighted learning points for Cabinet to consider and recommended that the change can be implemented.

Cabinet’s decision to close the secondary places at ACS was made in July and was designed to help children and young people have the best start in life.

The school – which currently caters for children aged 3 to 16 – is rated ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted and has a significant number of empty places which make it extremely difficult to offer a broad curriculum and maintain financial viability.

It is vitally important for all children to access a broad curriculum in a setting which is secure and sustainable for the long term as this improves their outcomes and enhances their opportunities.

Cabinet had also stated in July that, if the change was not agreed, the national Department for Education would have instructed the council to close the whole school.

The age range at ACS will become 3 to 11 years, but all older pupils will be able to move to a different secondary school and none will be left without a place.

The council will work closely with individual families, offering a high level of personal support. This will ensure every pupil’s needs and circumstances are taken into account and they will have an appropriate pathway for continuing their education.

The Scrutiny Panel’s recommendation – that the decision is “freed for implementation” – will be discussed by Cabinet members at their meeting on August 13th.

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