Future of under-threat Yorkshire primary school to be discussed next week

The future of an under-threat school in Yorkshire will be debated by Leeds councillors next week.

Queensway Primary School in Guiseley could be shut under proposals put forward by the council in September. The local authority says the move is necessary amid falling numbers of school-aged children in the area and argue it’s no longer viable to keep it open. However, campaigners and parents have argued against the closure, claiming the school is popular and valued in the community.

It has been 20 years since a school in the Leeds City Council area has been closed down by the council, according to local MP Alex Sobel.

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In particular, its support for special needs pupils is highly regarded. Otley and Yeadon councillor Ryk Downes, whose ward borders the school, will present a white paper at a full council meeting next Wednesday, calling on the local authority to think again.

Queensway could be closed down by councillorsQueensway could be closed down by councillors
Queensway could be closed down by councillors

Speaking on Tuesday (Nov 8), Liberal Democrat Councillor Downes described shutting Queensway as the “nuclear option” and insisted other solutions must remain on the table.

He said: “The moment the proposed closure was made public, parents started taking their children out of the school, and so that’s effectively been a death knell for Queensway. There’s lots of new houses being built in the area, particularly in Menston, and that potentially means schools in Menston will fill up in the coming years and so pupils from there may have to go to school in Guiseley. We just don’t know what the picture will look like in a few years’ time.”

Councillor Downes recalled his own experience in having had to move schools as a child when his parents moved to another part of the country. He said that the process had been “difficult” and that he feared pupils at the school would have to endure similar disruption to their education.

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He added: “These aren’t numbers, these are pupils. They are real lives who are being affected by this. From everything I hear, Queensway are doing an excellent job in terms of their provision for SEND pupils. If they have to move schools their education will be disrupted even more than other pupils who will be affected by this. My concern is these pupils are being turned into statistics and if we’re not careful they will be failed by the system.

The Labour MP for Leeds North-West, Alex Sobel said he met with local schools on October 31 in a bid to find a solution.

But speaking afterwards, he said that “understandably”, no other local school wanted to reduce their intake of pupils to help keep Queensway going. Schools receive a set amount of state funding per pupil they educate.

Mr Sobel said: “We have not had to close a school in Leeds for almost 20 years. Under the government’s funding formula, I worry that Queensway will not be the last.”

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He added: “The current admissions system creates an environment of extreme competition and restricts collaboration and planning when birth rates fall. I am calling for a complete rethink of these rules, especially as we are now facing the worst economic climate in generations.”