Parents gathered at Halifax Town HallParents gathered at Halifax Town Hall
Parents gathered at Halifax Town Hall

Calderdale school places: Angry parents protest in Halifax over SEND school crisis as councillors consider moving Ravenscliffe High School

Furious parents and carers have been protesting in Halifax over education for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND).

They gathered outside Halifax Town Hall on Saturday to raise awareness of the crisis currently hitting the district’s schools.

As reported by the Courier, more than 50 Calderdale parents have been told there is not space for their children in specialist schools this September and, despite many having complex needs, they can only be offered places in mainstream schools.

Parents say specialist schools are “at crisis point” and parents are faced with a lack of choice and without the right provisions for their children.

The council says the shortage of specialist school placements is a national issue and the number of children in Calderdale requiring an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP) has risen significantly in recent years, increasing demand for specialist places.

On Monday, cabinet members will consider options to increase provision.

Option one, which councillors are being recommended not to choose, would see Calderdale releasing land in north Halifax to move Ravenscliffe High School and Sports College from its current site in Skircoat Green.

This could see a new building with room to expand, accommodating pupils currently at Skircoat Green and extra capacity to take in more.

The Skircoat Green premises would be used by pupils with Social, Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) difficulties and Ravenscliffe’s Spring Hall site would still be in use for post-16 pupils.

But this option would use all of the £21m that is available, leaving nothing to address an also “significant” need for primary special needs places.

Councillors are instead being asked to consider supporting two other options.

The second will entail using the north Halifax land for an additional campus for Ravenscliffe, keeping the Skircoat Green site but releasing the Spring Hall site to develop a site for SEMH pupils.

This option, retaining Skircoat Green’s hydrotherapy pool, comes in at a price tag of around £11m to £14m.

And it would mean a third option would be viable – using the remaining money to expand primary special school places at Calderdale’s existing Woodbank and Highbury schools.

Ravenscliffe senior leaders have concerns around this option after significant investment into this site. They would prefer to release the Skircoat Green site, cabinet members are told.