5:33am Thursday 17th September 2015
By David Knights
A DECISION to merge Silsden’s two schools has been described as “smoke and mirrors” by a leading councillor.
Andrew Mallinson said the decision by Bradford Council’s ruling executive this week does not solve the overcrowding problems faced by Aire View Infants School and Hothfield Junior School.
He said the decision failed to spell out what form the proposed new Aire View Primary School would take after the existing schools’ staff and governing bodies were combined in September 2017.
Cllr Mallinson, who represents Craven ward on Bradford Council, said: “I’m extremely annoyed at the lack of clarity that’s come out of the decision. It’s a farce.
“Education officers have confirmed that neither school site has the capacity to merge into the other.
“The Bradford Council leadership have still not found a suitable location to build a new school.”
It is understood that in recent months council officers had investigated several potential school sites in Silsden, amongst them Belton Road and Daisy Hill.
This week’s decision (September 15) by Bradford Council’s executive was made following extensive consultation on various options amongst Aire View and Hothfield parents and other interested parties.
Executive members agreed a recommendation to turn Aire View Infants into a primary school from September 2017, closing Hothfield and transferring its children to Aire View.
The council will now publish statutory proposals to merge the schools, subject to further consultation.
Cllr Adrian Naylor, a district and town councillor, agreed that neither of existing sites had enough room for both schools’ pupils, and said a new site was preferable.
He added: “This week’s decision is a major step forward in ensuring that we have adequate provision for our children.
“The decision puts a timeframe round the potential for having new educational provision in Silsden by September 2017. I’m hopeful that within this timeframe there could be a new school planned or built.”
The proposed merger will solve the problem faced this year by parents of Aire View School pupils who were not allowed to automatically move up to Hothfield, and were instead told to travel to primary schools outside Silsden.
One of those parents, Louise Armstrong, said: “I welcome the council decision, especially with having to go through the appeal process for my son Will.”
Another parent, Jane Hitchcock , was pleased the merger would bring Silsden into line with other areas where children could stay in one school from reception to the age of 11.