Schools shake-up: Heath Grammar to reopen?

Former Heath Grammar School, Halifax.
Former Heath Grammar School, Halifax.

Calderdale Council is hoping to address a shortage of primary school places in Halifax by bringing the historic former Heath Grammar School back into action.

The plans are part of raft of radical proposals to revamp school provision with £12.9 million of capital investment.

If successful Heath School, on Free School Lane, would tackle an expected shortfall of 150 primary school places in the next three years.

It was closed as a school in 1985 when it merged with the neighbouring Crossley and Porter School to become Crossley Heath School and has since been used as Heath Training and Development Centre.

The plan, that will be considered by cabinet at Halifax Town Hall on Monday, is expected to cost around £1,852,000 and will come from the council’s school capital budget.

Also included in the budget proposals are plans to revamp Todmorden High School, Ferney Lee Primary School in Todmorden, Moorside Community Primary School at Ovenden, Halifax, and Luddenden Youth Centre.

Calderdale Council’s cabinet member for children and young people’s services, Coun Megan Swift, said: “We have been working hard to get the best out of available resources, to create new primary school places in Halifax as well as addressing the condition of some of our worst school buildings. We know that there are massive needs throughout the borough, but believe the proposals brought forward represent the best value for money in terms of the number of places created and the number of buildings we can bring up to modern standards.

“By investing in our schools now, it will ensure we are ready to cope with growing demand, and the new, improved school facilities will benefit communities across Calderdale. This builds on the proposal we have already agreed which will see Halifax High School become an all through school, ultimately creating two new forms of entry.

“These plans will create additional space, and also improve existing facilities to ensure that children in Calderdale enjoy learning and achieve their best.”

The Todmorden High project will address issues at the school which has been is a state of disrepair for several years.

The proposal is to demolish some of the worst buildings and build a new contemporary building at the front of the school which will be connected with the remaining buildings in the future. The project is budgeted to cost £4,248,000

Meanwhile at Ferney Lee Primary School cabinet will consider two options - one to renovate the existing building at a cost of £2,987,000 and the other is to completely demolish the current building and build a new school on the site. The second option is the preferred option of council officers and the school’s headteacher but will cost £3,200,000 although officers said this will allow greater investment in pupils and resources as opposed to ongoing costs of maintaining the old building.

The report also found that Moorside Community Primary School, Ovenden, is having to run at 50 per cent of its capacity and the age of the building is incurring huge costs in upkeep.

The council is proposing to demolish the existing building and create a school at a cost of £3,458,000, however, school leaders would reject this option and are looking to gain academy status.

Lack of primary school provision has been an issue for some time and work to address this began last year with the announcement of £5 million to create a primary school at Halifax High School.