Site being sought in Bradford for new school for expelled pupils

BRADFORD Council is searching for a site to set up a new specialist school to teach pupils who have been expelled from mainstream education.

But it has stressed that setting up the facility will involve proper public consultation, after fears arose that a site in Dudley Hill had already been chosen without people in the area being informed.

The Council needs to provide a new pupil referral unit after a recent change in Government policy, which now focuses more on excluded pupils learning more academic subjects in a classroom setting, as opposed to more vocational skills they are currently taught.

There had been concerns that the former Bolling School School off Rooley Lane had already been chosen for the school.

But Michael Jameson, the strategic director of children’s services, has insisted the authority will look at a number of different options.

The Bolling Special School site is near both Bradford Academy and Oastler special school, and documents presented to Bradford School’s Forum confirm that discussions had “led to the proposed development of the Bolling site for classroom delivery.”

During a debate about the future of pupil referral units, the forum was also told that a new site was needed as soon as possible, as there was not enough places for expelled pupils to learn academic subjects.

Councillor Lyn Smith spoke at the meeting as a governor of Oastler School.

She said: “There has been no discussion with Oastler School about these plans, and the school would also be exceedingly close to Bradford Academy which also, to the best of my knowledge, has not been consulted.

“These plans are not in the public domain in any way.”

The forum was assured there would be a consultation into the provision, and after the meeting Cllr Smith said she was happy that public would be given more information, adding: “I just wanted to make sure this consultation was properly worked through.”

Mr Jameson, the strategic director of children’s services, said: “The Government’s guidelines for Pupil Referral Units changed in 2013.

“PRUs now have offer pupils a broader curriculum which includes basic skills in English, maths, science and RE and not just a vocational curriculum.

“So we can deliver this, the PRU management committee approved the head teacher’s plan to develop the staffing complement so that qualified teachers are able to provide a curriculum consistent with national requirements.

“We are exploring a range of suitable sites to provide the education the children deserve of which the proposed Bolling site could be one, but no decision on this has yet been made.”

Councillor Ralph Berry, the executive member for children’s services, said: “We need to make sure the facilities and the location are appropriate for this group of young people who we need to work with in an intensive way.

“We will have a review of the best possible locations and the sites that are available.

“The number of pupils it will take is part of what has to be worked out.”