Plans progress for ‘once-in-a-generation’ project to improve local SEND provision

Children writing

We’ve progressed plans for a new special school in Almondbury, which will create new, purpose-built facilities for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

Why is the new school being built?

One of our priorities is making sure young people have the best start in life.

As part of a large investment in local SEND schools, Woodley School & College is one of two special schools which are set to be relocated and improved, creating better provision locally and reducing the need for children and young people with special educational needs to travel outside of Kirklees for education.

The new development will provide a bespoke, high quality school for these students, greatly improving on the school’s current facilities in Huddersfield and allowing it to increase the number of places it offers.  A consultation is currently being held around these additional places.

What happens next?

The plans require the clearing of several existing buildings on the site, making way for construction of the new, specially designed Woodley School & College.

The buildings affected by the clearing of the site, which is on Fernside in Almondbury, are the former school, the swimming pool and sports centre, and a building currently used by a private preschool.

The sports centre is currently disused, and Almondbury Swimming Pool is not open to the public.  Alternative locations were recently found for swimming lessons and club activities during a temporary closure.

We’re also working closely with the private preschool to explore options for the continuity of its services.

The clearing of the site is currently set to begin in summer 2024, allowing construction of the new school to follow.  We’re currently aiming to complete the new school in late 2026.

Councillor Elizabeth Reynolds, Cabinet Member for Learning & Aspiration, says:

“As a council, one of our ongoing major priorities is making sure children and young people have the best start in life.  We have a continuing commitment to providing excellent education for those with special educational needs, and this development is a crucial part of that.

“Woodley School & College already provides extremely high standards of care for its students.  As well as improving their facilities this development will allow more students to benefit from these high standards without needing to travel outside of Kirklees.

“These plans also support the council’s current budget aspirations, as many of the buildings affected are currently disused and would require a funding injection of millions to make them sustainable in their current form.

“This change of use for the site will bring great benefits to all our students and their families.  What we have here is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create something quite exceptional for our students, which will be bringing these benefits well into the future.

“We’re currently aiming to start work onsite in summer 2024, with hopes that the new Woodley school will be completed in 2026.”