Mirfield school’s academy status bid

A SCHOOL which was facing closure less than 18 months ago could become an academy by September.

Castle Hall School is currently asking for the views of local people before it submits an application to become an academy.

This would mean it was no longer under the control of Kirklees Council, though it would still be maintained by the government.

The plan comes after the school was saved from closure, but lost out on funding when the government’s Building Schools for the Future scheme was scrapped.

Headteacher Andy Pugh said: “We have had a few years when our future was in doubt, and last year we were in a really hectic phase where we were trying to plan for BSF.

“We need to look to the future and what the future is for the school, because we are a very determined group of governors and staff.”

Castle Hall is pursuing academy status with Shelley College in Huddersfield. Mr Pugh said that this was not a merger, but would allow the schools to share good working practices.

He said: “There is a degree of the people who run an academy being the people that are perhaps best placed to take the decisions that affect local people.”

The school’s consultation on the plan will run until Tuesday April 5 and people can have their say by contacting Castle Hall directly.

It’s board of governors will then decide whether or not to submit the application to become an academy. The application will then be considered by central government. Castle Hall could open as an academy in time for the next academic year.

As a foundation school, Castle Hall already has some independence. Mr Pugh said: “You might say becoming an academy is not going to change us all that much, but it does give us that extra confidence to say ‘Right, what do we stand for?’”

Education secretary Michael Gove has said he would like academies to become the norm for schools.