Massive investment confirmed for supporting vulnerable children

A piggy bank

Vulnerable children across Kirklees are to benefit from £36million of spending on state-of-the-art school facilities.

The massive council investment, which has been approved by members of Cabinet, means two existing schools will be rebuilt and relocated to support pupils with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND)

Woodley School and College caters for children and young people with Communication and Interaction/Autism Needs and will move to a site in Almondbury. Meanwhile, Joseph Norton Academy caters for pupils with Social, Emotional and Mental Health Difficulties and will move to Deighton.

Both schools will also increase their pupil numbers, helping to meet the growing demand for special school places.

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

“We are absolutely thrilled that these proposals can now move forward. This is an amazing opportunity to provide brand-new school facilities and improve young lives for many years to come.

Woodley and Joseph Norton are excellent schools providing high standards of care and education to vulnerable learners. At the same time, they would benefit from improved facilities and we’re proud that our investment will make that vital difference.

This is the right thing to do for our children and young people, so we will now press ahead with site surveys at the new locations and begin to draw up detailed designs. It’s really important to us that children and families have a say in the new facilities and their views will be a key part of this process.

An investment of £36million shows our huge commitment to children and families across Kirklees. Children deserve the very best – and our ambitious vision to rebuild these two schools will support pupils to thrive, achieve and fulfil their potential.”

Joseph Norton Academy and Woodley School and College played a full part in shaping the proposals which were agreed at Cabinet on October 5. The council will also work alongside parents on future stages of the project.

The new sites were chosen after detailed studies which looked at factors including highways, access, scope for development and the opportunity to provide outdoor learning. Location was also vital as pupils at both schools come from wide geographical areas.

Joseph Norton Academy

The school is currently based in Scissett, on the edge of Kirklees, and rebuilding on the current site would be very difficult due to the impact on education.

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.

It is planned that the new building will offer places for up to 132 pupils with Social, Emotional and Mental Health Difficulties (aged 5 to 16 and with the option of exploring post-16 places).

Woodley School and College

The school is currently based in Longley and there are many constraints on the current 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. The site is currently being used as an extra site for King James’s School but is expected to be vacant in 2022.

It is planned 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.