Make the Spring Hall dream a reality for Ravenscliffe

Martin Moorman, head of Ravenscliffe Hgh, with plans for new college, at Spring Hall, Halifax
Martin Moorman, head of Ravenscliffe Hgh, with plans for new college, at Spring Hall, Halifax

Calderdale’s only secondary special school is calling on its community to make the Spring Hall dream a reality.

Over the last decade, the Ravenscliffe High School population has been steadily out-growing the sites capacity. The Skircoat Green school building should comfortably accommodate around 69 students, plus staff. The number of students on roll presently stands at 139.

Architects at IBI Nightingale have commissioned the construction of an education hub with scope for wider community use on the site of Spring Hall, Huddersfield Road, Halifax.

Plans for the track-side sixth form centre have been drawn, pictured. It is hoped that Ravenscliffe@Spring Hall Sixth Form and Community Centre will open its doors in September 2015.

Accommodating up to 70 students aged 16-19, the site will boast a running track, shower facilities designed for pupil and community use, a kitchen and cafe, and classrooms with potential for after-school private hire as well as dual school and community purpose.

Local running groups including Stainland Lions and Halifax Harriers will benefit from the new facilities.

The challenge Ravenscliffe now face is transforming the plans on the page to bricks and mortar.

Calderdale Council has awarded £1.5 million to the project but a further £1.2 million is needed to commission the build.

Cabinet Member for Children and Young People’s Services, coun Megan Swift (Lab, Town) said: “Calderdale Council has recognised the need for an additional sixth form centre to ensure that pupils with more complex needs continue to receive the best possible support, and has allocated £1.5m funding to build Spring Hall. This will provide a new, modern facility within walking distance of the town centre and contributes to the Calderdale Children and Young People’s Framework that all children enjoy learning and achieve their best and stay in education and get a job.”

Ravenscliffe hopes to make up the deficit through four resources: self generation of funds - of which, Ravenscliffe have so far raised £300,000; bid writing - already the school has submitted nine bids to various organisations including a bid for £113,000 to Sport England; local support from the Calderdale society and business community; and ‘in kind’ donations.

Headteacher Martin Moorman said: “In times of austerity, local authorities only have so much finance to allocate and it is now up to us to raise the rest.

“We’re asking the community to help make the Spring Hall dream a reality.”

Mr Moorman said: “Ravenscliffe desperately needs the extra site to accommodate our students - we’re busting at the seams and we’re chronically oversubscribed and having to turn prospective students away.

“Classes are often over-crowded with students being unable to get the optimum from their learning environment.”

Courier photographer Bruce Fitzgerald captured the over-crowding problem, pictured.

“Over the past ten years we have considered a number of options to address our over-population. Many of these have been the refurbishment and extension of existing buildings but as a team we feel an entirely new, purpose-built centre is needed.”

The head and school governors say the growing population of pupils enrol can be accommodated in the future through extension of the Spring Hall site.

A Spring Hall vision is to create community cohesion through the pupil and local community integration.

“Spring Hall is ideal - the town centre location offers work-placed students convenient access to local employers. The centre will immerse students in the town centre and for those able to access employment and facilities it will make life a lot easier. Simultaneously, Spring Hall centre and facilities will be open to the public.”

“Because the site is 0.8 miles from Ravenscliffe it means staff and pupils can easily travel between both sites,” said Mr Moorman.

The community cafe will boast Ravenscliffe pupils as members of staff. The site will be used by mainstream schools to encourage inclusion between different schools.

Mr Moorman said: “We’re really hoping the public will get behind the campaign to build Spring Hall - it’s a big task but we believe, with community support, we can make it happen.”

Coun Swift said: “Ravenscliffe School and the council are committed to the project and are working together to identify other sources of funding that will enhance the proposed centre to include additional facilities for use by the wider community.”

The new plans will not affect existing sports facilities or the Spring Hall mansion.