CAMPAIGNERS against the closure of three Leeds schools are stepping up their fight as one of the biggest educational consultations Leeds has ever seen gets under way.
Leeds City Council's executive board has agreed on formal consultation to discuss the futures of Parklands Girls High School, Seacroft, Primrose High, Burmantofts and City of Leeds, Woodhouse.
Education Leeds wants to close the schools in August next year and replace them with two academies and a "hub" for 14 to 19-year-olds, to improve standards. It is to hold public meetings at each of the schools.
The Leeds Schools Together group, which includes teachers, parents and governors and was set up to block the proposals, says the changes would not necessarily lead to better exam results.
Many parents and governors are annoyed by the proposals as they would mean an end to state-funded, single-sex education in the city, as Parklands would be replaced with a co-educational academy and would open on Parklands site.
Primrose would also be replaced with a co-educational academy on its site at the same time.
The council said City of Leeds and Primrose both faced major challenges to improve teaching, attendance and behaviour and urgent changes were needed to meet the 30 per cent GCSE target for 2011. It said that although Parklands' GCSE results had exceeded the target, declining pupil numbers and a "difficult financial situation" meant it would be difficult to maintain progress beyond next year. Patrick Murphy, Leeds branch secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: "They don't have any evidence that turning these schools into academies will improve standards."
He said it was unclear what the "hub" was which could replace City of Leeds, and what provision would be made for students from Woodhouse and Hyde Park as there was no nearby alternative school.
Education Leeds said teachers at the three schools "would be potentially redundant" if the plans went ahead.
Chris Edwards, chief executive of Education Leeds, said: "We must ensure all our schools meet national standards for GCSE achievements."
The consultation runs to March 5. Public meetings will be at City of Leeds High: Bedford Field, Woodhouse Cliff, 7pm on February 10; Primrose High, Stoney Rock Lane, 7pm on February 11; Parklands Girls High: South Parkway, Seacroft, 7pm on February 23. Information is also available from 0113 2475696 or at www.educationleeds.co.uk/schoolorganisation.