They covered over 10 miles as they marched around the 6 Harrogate schools that the Grove Academy Pupil Referral Unit (PRU) serves.
North Yorkshire County Council are to cut funding to PRUs by £2 million this year -driven by National Government continued and increasing under funding of all Local Authorities,
- Funding will be cut overall by 65% by 2020
- All local conservative county councillors vote to cut the budget
- The Grove Academy faces closure by Christmas 2019, if nothing changes
- NYCC say that alternate provision will be made – it’s not clear what that provision would be
- Secondary school headteachers are concerned that they will be expected to pick-up the function of the PRU
- A PRU is complementary and different to a secondary school, it offers a different environment better suited for some
- A referral to a PRU is not necessarily for the remaining school life of a child, they aim to return them to mainstream
- A PRU provides an early intervention for young people and any reduction in service could lead to an increase in local crime
The headteachers from Harrogate Grammar School and St Aidan’s School have been very quick to offer their support to the school. Richard Sheriff from HGS and John Wood from St Aidain’s echoed similar views in how important the service is to young people in the area and how there is a lack of clarity in what an alternate provision would be, if the school closed. They both acknowledged the budgetary constraints that both secondary schools and an Education Authority have to work to, but said closure what have a far-reaching impact.
The Grove Academy is an essential part of the education service in Harrogate, and the wider community..
Alex Boyce, NEU representative, and Head of English at the Grove Academy:
We are walking today to show that we support our local schools and they support us. This march demonstrates the solidarity of all staff in the Harrogate area; We are united in our objections to the council’s cuts, united against the closure of the Grove and united in defence of our young people. For many years we have worked closely together to ensure the best outcomes for the children in this community. If the Grove closes, decades of expertise and experience will be lost and the community will lose a vital safety net.
We are appealing to the council to grant the school sufficient funding to stay open until next summer. This would give Grove management a fighting chance of working out a new, sustainable arrangement directly with our supportive local schools. All we want is this chance.
Lesley Davis, NEU Branch Secretary, Delta:
It is imperative that plans are put in place by NYCC and shared with Delta Academy Trust and the staff, parents and students at The Grove as a matter of urgency. NYCC’s attitude has been complacent – they need to share the overarching plans for the PRUs in Harrogate and where The Grove fits in to those plans. Suggesting that the staff and students at The Grove should wait to hear their fate until the end of this term is simply unacceptable.
How is Delta and The Grove supposed to plan the provision for these students when NYCC will not sit down with the trust and share its plans? The students at The Grove are some of the most challenging and vulnerable students in Harrogate and they need and deserve to receive the ‘outstanding’ provision they have come to rely upon.