There is much disquiet across Aireborough about the sudden proposal by Leeds City Council to close Queensway Primary School in July 2023. A march to express this is being held tonight, 4th October, starting at Yeadon Town Hall at 5.30pm and finishing at the school at 6pm. Everyone is welcome to join and show support against the proposed closure.
The Council says that locally and nationally birth rates are falling and that “currently there are several schools across the area with surplus places available. Having surplus places impacts directly on school budgets and can affect schools’ ability to deliver the scope of the National Curriculum in its broadest and fullest sense, ensuring that all children have rich opportunities and experiences across all ages and stages of their schooling”.
However, Queensway is more than ‘just a school’ it is a community hub that has served a purpose for 50 years, since the Queensway estate was built, people are very worried about the effect it will have on the local area. Secondly, the school has a number of children with special educational needs who require tailored plans (SENs) to help them reach their potential – current indication are that pandemic restrictions have only increased such needs. Lastly, who knows what the near future holds, a future Government may well decide, for economic reasons, to implement more family friendly policies to increase the birth rate – it has happened before and happens in other European countries now.
From local MPs and Councillors, to customers of the White Swan there is justified concern at this seeming ‘Fait accompli’. There is a current public consultation running which ends on the 23 October, but the data available for that is very limited. As Yeadon Councillor Cllr Ryk Downs points out “We need to drill down into the numbers and understand them fully, rather than just the council simply going …..this is what we believe and closing the school down’.”
What are the alternatives?
Guiseley & Rawdon Councillor Eleanor Thomson stresses that this is a difficult situation and that “there are no good options here”; but the Public needs to know what has been considered; prior consultation with Councillors does not seem to have happened. Aireborough has been here before with the unfortunate closure of Aireborough Grammar School in the 1990s, and the great expense and disruption of expanding school provision in Guiseley in 2014 – which is now seemingly not needed.
We agree more facts are required; children’s educational needs, rather than a top level calculation of birth rate vs places, should come first. Community strength should come before short-termism which we’ve suffered from before. And, how does this fit with LCCs own plans for 20min walking neighbourhoods, and the reduction of traffic on roads under their ‘climate emergency’ strategy?
If you’d like to know more, Leeds City Council are holding public information drop-in evenings at the school on this and there will undoubtedly be implications for other schools in Aireborough.
- Wednesday 5th October 5-7pm
- Wednesday 12th October 6-8pm
We will write again when there is more information on the full facts for Aireborough as a whole – and indeed for the neighbouring areas of Apperley Bridge and Menston/Burley in the Bradford MDC Area where there is and continues to be a great deal of house building.
Update – They will not close quietly !
A large, noisy protest wended it’s way from Yeadon Town Hall to Queensway School in the rain, yesterday evening – accompanied by a BBC Look North live reporter, a large banner covered construction lorry, and a bevy of supportive Cllrs from both the Yeadon and Guiseley wards. You can see the item on iplayer, Evening News, 4/10/22 from 11.09 – 14.15.
Look North’s item interviews both a parent and the Headmaster Mark Duce, who joined the school in September 2021. Mr Duce has said previously in an interview with the Yorkshire Evening Post that
“When I joined as headteacher a year ago, it was clear there was work to be done at the school and since then, the staff have been working tirelessly to make Queensway a school to be proud of.”
“There are many children in our school who need a huge amount of dedicated, specialist support and the staff have spent months and even years building that vital trusting relationship with these children so that they get fair access to a quality education.”
“Closing our school takes away all that and no child deserves to have their futures put at risk in this way.”
This point is stressed by the parent in the interview, who says that she moved her child to Queensway from another school because the latter could not give the specialist teaching the child needed, and Queensway was able too. As the Headmaster again stressed, a school is not just about numbers but children’s needs and a thriving community.
Well done to the organizers. Some things are important to stand up for.