Kids rally to save rural village school

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Triumphant parents and pupils are celebrating after plans to consult on closing and relocating Cragg Vale Junior and Infant School were halted.

The proposals, which would have seen a public consultation over moving students to a new site at Calder High School, were thrown out by Calderdale Council’s Cabinet on Tuesday.

The decision came after shocked parents and community members rallied round in less than a week to unite in opposition to the plans.

A letter from governors raised concerns over the state of the building and the scope of Priority Shool Building Programme funding.

Since they were first told of the proposals on their children’s first day back at school, parents worked tirelessly to fight for the school to remain in the village where it has stood since 1887.

And there was cause for celebration when item was dropped from the cabinet’s meeting agenda.

Diane Wright, a parent of two children at Cragg Vale, said: “We are very grateful to Councillor Janet Battye and to Councillor Simon Young for their support and help in saving our school from being subject to a consultation that appeared to be based on a flawed and one-sided report.

“Our school is a Designated Rural School, and relocating it to the Calder High site would have devastating consequences; not only for the school itself, but for the wider Cragg Vale community.”

Cragg Vale School has a long and established close connection with community groups such as the Cragg Vale Community Association, Cragg 15, St John the Baptist Church and the two local pubs.

Councillor Simon Young (Lab, Luddenden Foot) said: “From the outset I had serious concerns about the impact that this proposal would have on the wider Cragg Vale community and having listened carefully, the verdict from the local community has been loud and clear.

“One of our first challenges will be to ensure that the funding Cragg Vale School was promised by government, is actually delivered, without any conditions attached.

“Next we must campaign harder for a more comprehensive solution to the crumbling buildings at both Cragg Vale and Calder High.”

Councillor Janet Battye (Lib Dem, Calder) added: “As soon as I heard about this, I couldn’t understand why the council would want to do this. Parents want their child to go to a small school but not one on a campus with a large number of older pupils. I was pleased to give them my help and support and I look forward to Cragg Vale school having a good future.”

The school is now waiting to find out the exact amount of money to be allocated to the school in its successful Priority School Building Programme bid, awarded by central government earlier this year.