Proposals to amalgamate Grove Road Community Primary School and Woodfield Community Primary School, Harrogate

Frequently asked questions

What does amalgamation mean?

An amalgamation is the process of joining Grove Road Community Primary School and Woodfield Community Primary School together. It is different to a merger or federation because we are not creating a new school, or working together as two schools. Woodfield Community Primary School would become a part of Grove Road Community Primary School.

How does this happen?

The Woodfield school site would become part of Grove Road from 1 September 2022. This means that there would be one school (Grove Road Community Primary School) operating across two sites.  As part of the amalgamation, Woodfield Community Primary (as it is now) would close and places for children currently attending Woodfield would be made available through the amalgamation with Grove Road.

Why does it need to happen?

Woodfield Community Primary School was judged Inadequate by Ofsted at inspection in January 2020. Any maintained school like Woodfield that has been judged inadequate by Ofsted is required to become a sponsored academy. The Regional Schools Commissioner has been unable to secure an Academy Trust to sponsor Woodfield School due to viability concerns.

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

Why amalgamate and not just close?

Both governing bodies recognise that the Woodfield site is a valuable asset to the local community for educational purposes and by pursuing an amalgamation they can secure its future for the benefit of local children. The amalgamation ensures education provision remains located in the heart of the Woodfield community.

Why Grove Road and not another local school?

Grove Road has a good Ofsted rating and is in close proximity to families whose children currently attend Woodfield Community Primary School. Grove Road has already successfully welcomed many families who previously attended Woodfield and leaders from Grove Road worked with Woodfield school in 2020 and at the start of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Both schools have a similar ethos in relation to inclusive education.

Why is this proposal exciting for Grove Road?

The sites are within a mile of each other, which would make it easy to facilitate movement between locations during the school day. This creates an exciting opportunity to enhance the facilities of Grove Road Community Primary School, organising sustainable education across both sites, aiming for the best possible provision for all pupils, and importantly ensuring that the Woodfield site continues to be used for education of the wider community.

Why are the proposals being put forward now?

The latest Ofsted monitoring report of Woodfield Community Primary School in July states that “Leaders and managers are taking effective action towards the removal of special measures” and it is important to recognise the efforts of all those who have been involved in this improvement journey.  However, the current arrangements can only be temporary and the absence of an academy sponsor means that Woodfield School faces an uncertain future.  These proposals would keep education provision within the Woodfield community.

What are the timescales?

The County Council’s Executive Member for Education and Skills will be asked on 23 November to start the consultation. If he agrees, public consultation would run from 2 December to 28 January. Parents would be provided with a consultation document containing further details about the proposals and a response form for their views. There would also be public consultation meetings where parents of children at both schools would be able to find out further information, ask questions, and put forward their views.

On 22 February, the County Council’s Executive committee would consider all the responses to the consultation and decide whether to proceed with the next step of the proposal. This would involve publishing statutory proposals on the County Council’s website and putting statutory notices in the local press and on the school gates. This would give a further four weeks during March for representations to be made. A final decision would then be made by the County Council’s Executive in April, and if agreed, Woodfield school would close on 31 August and Grove Road would assume use of the site currently occupied by Woodfield school from 1 September 2022.

Where have these proposals come from?

The proposals have been developed by members of the school governing bodies and LA officers over several months. The two governing bodies carefully considered the proposals before the autumn half term, and both agreed to ask the County Council to start a consultation.

How would the proposals work practically?

Our initial plans, to be considered as part of the consultation, are:

  • From September 2022, all Nursery children would be based at the current Woodfield site (Grove Road Nursery); all Year Reception to Year 6 pupils would be based at the current Grove Road site.
  • All families of children currently attending Woodfield school and who choose to join Grove Road Community Primary School can be accommodated at the existing Grove Road site
  • From September 2023, all Nursery children and Reception pupils (2023 cohort) would be based at the current Woodfield site (Grove Road Early Years); all Year 1 to Year 6 pupils would be based at the Grove Road site.
  • Growth is expected to continue so that eventually Grove Road Early Years and Grove Road Key Stage 1 would be located at the current Woodfield site and Grove Road Key Stage 2 would be accommodated at the current Grove Road site.

What if I have children at both sites?

The intention is to have a walking bus, across the iron bridge to the back of the Woodfield playing field, that enables parents to drop their child at either school and then children who need to will be able to walk safely to the other site accompanied by school staff. We will look at the timings of the school day to ensure that parents who choose to drop off or collect children from both sites are able to do so. Grove Road school also have wrap around care provision that will continue to be available from 7:30am to 5:30pm. Other opportunities, including clubs, will be looked at closely across both sites.

We’d welcome parents’ ideas and views as part of the consultation process.

How would the amalgamated school meet the needs of my child?

The school would work closely with parents, as both Grove Road and Woodfield Schools do now, to meet the needs of individual children. The school would ensure early identification of needs and appropriate support in school and with partner agencies and services as required.

What if I want to move my child to another school?

We would encourage you to share your concerns with your child’s Headteacher in the first instance.

There will be opportunities for children and their families to visit Grove Road school and meet key staff as part of the proposal, however if parents feel it would be beneficial, families are invited to contact the school for an earlier visit. Of course, parents may wish to explore a transfer to another school in the area. If so, please see the information about applying for an in-year school place at:

https://www.northyorks.gov.uk/changing-schools-and-year-applications

The County Council’s School Admissions Team can be contacted by email or telephone. Email: [email protected]  Tel: 01609 533679

What about admissions for Reception for September 2022?

Parents can apply to either Grove Road or Woodfield School this year to join Reception in September 2022, and if the amalgamation goes ahead, from September 2022, Reception children would be educated at the current Grove Road school site. Children who join the school as part of the September 2023 Reception intake would be based at the current Woodfield site and would remain there until the end of their Year 2.

The deadline for making an application to join reception in September 2022 is 15 January 2022:

https://www.northyorks.gov.uk/apply-place-primary-or-secondary-school

How can parents get involved?

Subject to approval, there will be a public consultation period from 2 December to 28 January. You would be able to send your ideas by online response form or post. There would also be public consultation meetings, where you would be able to find out more information, ask questions, and put forward your views.

What if I have any concerns now?

Please contact:

Margaret Beagle, Grove Road Chair of Governors via [email protected]

Janet Booth, Woodfield Chair of Governors via [email protected]

Mr Parkhouse via [email protected]

Mr Atkinson and Miss Marwood via [email protected]