Formal decision on school closure to be taken this month

This story was published 21 October 2022

Senior councillors will be asked to formally decide to close a primary school in Harrogate at the end of the year, following lengthy attempts to keep the school open.

Woodfield Community Primary School

Members of our executive will meet this month when they are being recommended to approve the closure of Woodfield Community Primary School after all other options to secure its future were exhausted.

The school site, owned by the county council, also houses Bilton and Woodfield Community Library, Harrogate Bilton Children and Family Hub and Oak Beck House. All of these services are unaffected by the proposed school closure and remain open as usual.

If Woodfield School closes, its catchment would become shared catchment areas for both Bilton Grange Primary School and Grove Road Community Primary School.

We conducted an admissions preference exercise during the summer and at the request of parents. Most of the pupils who were enrolled at Woodfield were found alternative places before the beginning of the September term.

A bid to find a suitable solution to keep the school open has been ongoing for more than two years.

The primary became subject to special measures after being rated inadequate following an Ofsted inspection in January 2020. Subsequent Ofsted monitoring visits found effective action was being taken towards the removal of special measures, but any maintained school judged inadequate by Ofsted is required to become a sponsored academy. However, no academy trust would agree to sponsor the school due to concerns that it was not viable.

Where a school is not viable as an academy, it is expected the local authority will close the primary and the Secretary of State can direct them to do so if necessary.

Views on the proposal to close the school were sought from parents, school staff and other stakeholders during summer. But no viable alternative could be found and the reluctant decision was made to go ahead with the closure.

The primary had 37 pupils attending at Easter, but nearly all parents chose to transfer their children to alternative nearby schools before the start of the September term.

Corporate director for children and young people’s service, Stuart Carlton, said: “We have worked closely with governors and others for more than two years to explore every possible avenue to secure a future for Woodfield Primary School, but unfortunately a viable alternative has not been found.”

Elected members will make the final decision on whether to close the school at the executive meeting on Tuesday, 25 October .