Moorside merger paves the way for special needs provision for Ripon

Ripon’s Moorside infant and junior schools have been given the go-ahead to merge into one primary school in a move which will bring about significant educational improvements for the town and wider area.

Mowbrey school teacher and children.

The decision, which was taken by North Yorkshire County Council after consulting with families and the wider community, will also enable special school provision for the area to be created on the site.

Moorside will now become an all-through 3-11 primary school on the junior school site with a single headteacher and governing body.  The infant and junior schools have shared an Executive headteacher since 2016 and it was agreed that a single school would ensure consistent, high quality education into the future.

The vacant infant site is to be used for Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) provision as a satellite of Mowbray School, a County Council special school in Bedale. 

Mowbray caters for a wide range of complex needs, and the creation of a satellite school in Ripon forms part of the county council’s strategic plan for more local special educational needs and disability provision.

The provision, which will open in January 2020, will eventually provide up to 60 places.

“This is good news for families in the Ripon area” said County Councillor Patrick Mulligan, North Yorkshire’s Executive Member for Education and Skills. 

“The creation of an all through 3-11 primary school for Moorside will further develop high quality teaching and learning and continuity for children throughout the curriculum.  The development of the site to create satellite provision for Mowbray, which is a very good school,  to provide urgently needed places for local children with special educational needs and disabilities is a great step in the right direction.  It means children in the area will no longer have to travel such long distances to benefit from specialist provision.”

Stuart Carlton, Director of North Yorkshire’s Children and Young People’s Service said the investment in the Ripon Moorside site to create an all-through primary school and a much needed satellite school for Mowbray in the Ripon area, was part of North Yorkshire’s strategic plan for special educational needs and disabilities which aims to create more special school places local to where families live:

“North Yorkshire is making sure that the very limited resources we have are spent in the most effective way,” he said. “Nevertheless the numbers of children with education, health and care plans continue to grow and we urgently need Government to work with us on a long-term solution to address the critical funding pressures this has created.”

Jonathan Tearle, Headteacher of Mowbray School said:  “Over the past five years the requests for pupil places from the Ripon and Harrogate areas, has risen significantly and we are no longer able to meet this demand at our school in Bedale. Sadly this has resulted in the school turning away pupils who would benefit from the education we have to offer ” said “The setting up of a primary age satellite provision, will mean that we can meet the needs of more children and by establishing a specialist provision in Ripon, it will mean children can be educated closer to where they live.

“We will ensure that the standard of provision and expertise of the staff will mirror that of our current school. Working closely with local authority officers and families, we will together identify potential pupils who will be able to attend the satellite provision. We are also looking at being able to guarantee places for when they transfer from the satellite provision to secondary provision here at our main site at Bedale, or at another special school local to where they live, if mainstream provision is not suitable.

“The benefits to the community will be significant, ensuring the needs of all children are better met and the creation of additional employment opportunities linked with the school.

“Working with County Council officers we have devised a phased and costed implementation plan, which will allow the facilities of the school to be improved to meet the needs of the children over a period of three years and to ensure correct levels of staffing are in place.

“I am very grateful to our governors, County Council officers and our staff for the work they have done so that we are in this position to proceed with creating effectively a new school.”

Claire Rowett, headteacher of Moorside Infant and Junior Schools said, “The team at Moorside is thrilled that we have this exciting opportunity to build upon our current strengths and improve our educational provision for all our children.

“As a primary school, we will be in a strong position to be able to plan for both continuity and progression in learning, delivering an inclusive curriculum both in our classrooms and our outdoor learning areas.

“Throughout the amalgamation process, the wellbeing and development of our current children is our priority, and we will be ensuring that their progress comes first.

“We now have a blank canvas to design and resource a stimulating learning environment in our new building, where we will continue to raise standards and nurture all children and staff.

“Our vision for Moorside Primary school and Nursery is that we will give our children a secure foundation for life through a culture of success and achievement for all; an aspirational and inspirational curriculum and strong relationships between the school, families, pupils and our Community.”

This story was published 18 March 2019