THE LAUNCH of a new secondary school tomorrow will mark a victory for a group of parents who have been campaigning for six years to ensure their children can be educated in their community.
BBG Academy, based on the site of what was Birkenshaw Middle School, will be officially opened by Yorkshire Woman of Achievement award winner Dr Kate Granger.
It serves the communities of Birkenshaw, Birstall and Gomersal who have been fighting to keep a school on the site since 2007. Their campaign attracted national headlines when David Cameron attended one of their rallies during the General Election campaign and it has faced a series of obstacles over six years.
Chair of governors Sharon Light said: “Our school is already a great example to its pupils on what can be achieved against the odds if you just keep going.”
The campaign began six years ago when Birkenshaw Middle School was faced with closure as Kirklees Council planned to move from a three-tier system to a two-tier one with primaries and secondaries.
In 2008 there was the prospect of Birkenshaw retaining a school with the site being used to create a new secondary as part of the council’s £200m Building Schools for the Future (BSF) plans. However, a vote of no confidence in the then Tory administration led to the plans being shelved and the middle school being placed under a new threat.
Plans were drawn up which would see Birkenshaw Middle pupils transfer to a new academy in Batley. At this stage the Birkenshaw, Birstall and Gomersal Parents Alliance decided to try to open their own secondary school on the middle school site. They made their case to the then Children’s Secretary Ed Balls but it was rejected.
However, their plans were backed when the coalition came to power in 2010 wanting to allow parents to open free schools.
But the battle did not stop there. In 2011 Kirklees Council came up with plans to use the middle school site for a new primary. It was only when Birkenshaw Middle School opted to become an academy free from council control that it was definitely saved. Tomorrow it is officially relaunched as the new BBG Academy.