£36million of investment planned for Kirklees special schools

pig money bank

We are putting forward exciting new proposals for special school provision in the district.

What would the plans involve? 

The plans would involve a massive investment of £36million by rebuilding two schools – Joseph Norton Academy and Woodley School and College – which both cater for pupils with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND).

It is a major council priority for children and young people to have the best start in life and for vulnerable learners to attend good-quality, local schools.

This helps children with SEND to achieve good outcomes and fulfil their potential, enhancing their life chances.

What happens if Cabinet members give permission? 

If Cabinet members give permission on Tuesday October 5th, the council will start the process of conducting site surveys and drawing up designs for state-of-the-art facilities.

Both schools have been heavily involved in the proposals and we will ensure children and families are given an influential voice in shaping their future.

Under the plans going to Cabinet, Joseph Norton Academy would relocate to a site in Deighton, Huddersfield, while Woodley School and College would relocate to a site in Almondbury. Both would increase their pupil numbers.

Cllr Carole Pattison, Cabinet member for Learning, Aspiration and Communities, said:

“Our vision to build two new schools is incredibly ambitious and shows our commitment to families, especially those who are vulnerable. Improving the lives of our children and young people, both now and in the future, is at the heart of our proposals

Woodley and Joseph Norton provide high standards of care and education and we would like to thank staff and families for providing this support. Equally, the facilities at both schools need to be upgraded significantly and their current sites don’t allow for this to happen.

There is a growing demand for special school places in Kirklees and we must ensure this demand can be met in the future. Relocating these two schools, and providing brand-new facilities at a cost of £36million, would provide a wonderful opportunity.

The proposed sites have been carefully considered – amongst many other things, we have looked at access, the potential for growth, highways issues and the scope to provide important outdoor learning. Pupils at the schools come from wide areas, so geographical location was also key.

Ultimately, the new sites had to provide everything that is needed for children and young people with SEND. The schools have supported this process from the beginning and we all want to do the right thing for our children and families over many years to come.”

Joseph Norton Academy

The school, which is currently based in Scissett on the edge of Kirklees, caters for pupils with Social, Emotional and Mental Health Difficulties (SEMH). It would benefit from having more modern facilities, but rebuilding on the current site would be very difficult due to the impact on education.

Following a detailed study, the Deighton site was identified as a strong location for a new school as it is central, well suited to a special school and has scope to meet the demand for places. The site is in Deighton Road and used to be the home of Deighton High School and the Deighton Centre.

The proposed new building would offer places for up to 132 pupils with SEMH (aged 5 to 16 and with the option of exploring post-16 places).

Woodley School and College

The school, which is currently based in Longley, caters for pupils with Communication and Interaction/Autism Needs. There are many constraints on the site due to its size, location and the nature of the buildings.

A site in Fernside Avenue, Almondbury, was identified as a strong location because it holds the potential to offer a stimulating, safe and calming environment and meet a broad range of disabled children’s needs.

It is currently being used as an extra site for King James’s School but is expected to be vacant in 2022. The proposal is to demolish the existing buildings, with the possible exception of the swimming pool and sports hall, and build a new school for Woodley with up to 179 places for pupils (aged 5 to 18) with Communication and Interaction/Autism Needs.

More information 

For more details on the proposals, you can read the Cabinet report.