MP to take battle for two schools to Ministers

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MP Alec Shelbrooke will ask government Ministers to hold a summit with the leadership of Boston Spa and Wetherby High Schools to consider options to provide two separate outstanding schools in the area.

Last week a public debate was sparked after the headteacher of Boston Spa High School Chris Walsh sent a letter to parents suggesting that Leeds City Council had a plan to close Boston Spa school and move children to Wetherby.

040517     Pupils from Boston Spa School,  with their headteacher Mr Christopher Walsh ( middle left)  and Sir  John Townsley the  Gorse Academies Trust Chief Executive (right)   For education page..

040517 Pupils from Boston Spa School, with their headteacher Mr Christopher Walsh ( middle left) and Sir John Townsley the Gorse Academies Trust Chief Executive (right) For education page..

This week in a Wetherby News exclusive, the MP for Elmet and Rothwell said: “Over the last week, following numerous meetings with residents, school governors and school staff, it has become clear to me that the desire of my constituents is to have two outstanding schools in both Boston Spa and Wetherby.

“It has also been put to me that parents want two schools with different ethoses so they can make an informed choice as to which school to send their children to based on results, Ofsted reports and school ethos.

“At present we do have an issue in that we have two large school sites with an oversupply of school places.

“Yet around half of parents in our area send their children to school in North Yorkshire and a large proportion of pupils at both Boston Spa and Wetherby come from the inner-city area.

“I am confident that two really great schools in the area would pull parents back from North Yorkshire to our local schools.”

In a statement last week Mr Shelbrooke affirmed his support for the academisation of Boston Spa High School and commented that he would redouble his efforts to secure a new school building for Wetherby High School, which is in a poor state of repair.

Mr Shelbrooke said: “I’ve had the privilege of working with the leadership team at Wetherby High School over recent years and I’ve been very impressed by the way the school has turned around.

“Headteacher Lucie Lakin has shown real passion and drive to improve results and it has clearly working. So much so, I am confident that if Wetherby received an Ofsted inspection today it would be judged a ‘good’ school.”

In a conference call planned with the Minister of State and the Regional Schools Commissioner this week, Mr Shelbrooke will ask the Department for Education to call a meeting of both governors and leaders at Boston Spa and Wetherby High Schools in order to find a solution to delivering two great schools in the area.

The MP said the Wetherby Neighbourhood Plan also includes a vision to locate new leisure facilities and services alongside a new school building in Wetherby.

Following a statement issued by Mr Walsh to parents, action group Save Our School was set up to keep Boston Spa School open and push ahead with the link with The Gorse Academy Trust (TGAT).

Debbie Young of Save Our School said: “Over the last two weeks we’ve seen an incredible outpouring of support for both the school parternering with TGAT but also the pivotal role that the school plays in the community of Boston Spa.

“It’s not just been parents that have joined us, but so many that use the facilities.

“At this stage we’re awaiting the decision to be made and we’re really grateful for alec Shelbrooke’s very vocal support.

“He’s had an unprecedented number of emails and we hope he can share the views of the community with those that decide the outcome in the coming week.

“As parents we all want what is best for our kids and I also hope parents of Wetherby get what they require to make that school outstanding too.”

Last week ward councillors on Leeds City Council said that the area could not support two secondary schools as figures suggested that there would not be enough pupils, even with an anticipated increase in housing.