Heath School could become Halifax’s first free school

Asmat Ali and Andrew Tagg at Heath Training Centre, Free School Lane, Halifax.
Asmat Ali and Andrew Tagg at Heath Training Centre, Free School Lane, Halifax.

Plans are under way to create a new school in the heart of Halifax.

A former Crossley and Porter Grammar School pupil is to bid for government funding to create a new free school.

Asmat Ali, who was a head teacher at a London girls school, hopes to transform Heath School at Free School Lane.

“We want to give the students the sort of education they would expect from a grammar school without being a selective school,” she said.

“Only Rastrick High School in the catchment area is achieving the national average (59 per cent) of students achieving five A* to C GCSEs including English and maths.”

The 53-year-old said her experience has taught her that the ethic at the heart of the school is crucial to a move towards academic achievement.

“This sort of change would take years at an existing school but now we have a clean slate to start in the right way and create a community resource for excellent education,” said Mrs Ali.

“Education is no different to other organisations. It’s about investing in people and making sure you are committed to your staff and pupils.

“There is no reason why a non-selective school should not be ten per cent above the national average.”

She said a team is currently being put together to draft a bid to the Department for Education (DfE) which has to give its approval for any free school.

Chairman of the Calderdale Conservative Association Andrew Tagg is backing the bid and assisting in preparations.

“We have already started the motions and will hold some meetings later this month inviting different parties to get involved,” he said.

They hope to submit the application by spring 2014 with the school potentially opening in September 2015.

The Heath School was merged with Crossley and Porter School in 1985 and the Heath site, on the aptly named Free School Lane, is now used as a training and development centre.

The Heath Training and Development Centre is owned by the Heath Trust and any decision on the future of the building would have to be decided by the trust.

The new free school could offer an initial primary school provision to help appease parents who have been left frustrated by the lack of available places.

“If there is a lack of places at present then that will move through the system and we will need more school places,” said Mrs Ali who worked at the Islamia Girls School for seven years.

“A building like this was originally for a school providing excellent education for people of all backgrounds.

“We hope to create a similar system here for the 21st century.”