Campaigners vow to fight Bruntcliffe school plan

COUNCILLORS have joined teachers, governors and parents to fight plans to relocate a community special school from west Leeds to Morley.

Education Leeds has proposed temporarily moving the West Specialist Inclusive Learning Centre (SILC) from Farnley Park Maths and Computing College to Bruntcliffe High School while building work goes ahead at Farnley.

Under proposals the centre, which provides teaching for two to 19-year-olds with a range of complex special educational needs, would be moved wholesale to Bruntcliffe during the summer holiday.

Parents at the school have been invited to a meeting tonight at 6.30pm to discuss the proposals.

The 1m move would mean all the children in the unit would be kept together to minimise the disruption they would experience between now and 2012 when their new school would be complete.

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But councillors at the Leeds Outer South Area Committee on Monday night told representatives from Education Leeds there was widespread opposition to the plans and asked that other school sites be considered.

Coun Robert Finnigan said: "The headteacher doesn't want it, parents don't want it and the governing body doesn't want it.

"This that has had problems in the past and is improving. Anything that causes disruption threatens that improvement."

He added: "Bruntcliffe was one of the National Challenge Schools and had to get 30 per cent of its pupils getting A-C grades including English and maths.

"It is to their absolute credit that they dug deep and exceeded that target. From what the headteacher is saying, they need to focus on that improvement rather than figure out how they can accommodate someone dumping another school on their doorstep."

He said the school was nationally recognised for the excellent work it had done in expanding vocational options and the proposed SILC buildings would be put right where the school had plans to expand its agricultural teaching.

"There are other options and I think Education Leeds have found this is the easiest one for practical reasons."

Coun Mulherin told Education Leeds: "I welcome the fact you are trying to keep this group of young people together, I just wonder whether you have looked at other west Leeds schools.

Stuart Gosney, of Education Leeds, told councillors: "There was an accusation at the meeting at Bruntcliffe this was a done deal but this is about hearing what people want and reporting back to the board in March."

"We looked at a variety of sites and this one offered the most opportunities."

"If the outcome of the process is that we need to look elsewhere we will go back and look at other options."

This, the first stage of the consultation, ends on February 12.

* See next week's Observer and Advertiser for a report from the meeting.