Clitheroe secondary school could take primary-aged children under expansion plan

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A secondary school in Clitheroe could be converted into an “all-through” facility providing places for children from the ages of four to 16.

The proposal has been made by Ribblesdale High School, which is seeking to offer 210 primary places at a site on the under-construction Higher Standen Farm housing development off Pendle Road.

A plot on the 1,040-home estate is already reserved for the purpose and adjoins the existing secondary school.

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The move follows a consultation into providing an entirely new school to generate the places that will be required as a result of the development, with housebuilder Taylor Wimpey having agreed to transfer the necessary land and make a contribution towards the cost of the additional pupils.

Ribblesdale High School (image: Google)Ribblesdale High School (image: Google)
Ribblesdale High School (image: Google)

Under Department for Education rules, any new facility would have had to be a free school provided by a sponsor.

After assessing both options, education bosses at Lancashire County Council concluded that the expansion of Ribblesdale offered “a number of benefits and presented less risk than the establishment of a new free school”, according to a report presented to the authority’s cabinet. The capital costs of the facility would be the same under either scenario.

A feasibility study has concluded that it would be possible to build a single-storey school with a one-form entry each year – although the building would be designed to allow two-form entry in future.

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However, the cabinet report notes that if the school were to become an an academy in the future and opted to reduce its age range to accommodate only secondary pupils again, there would be nothing the county council could do about it - although the authority would consulted over whether there were sufficient places in the area under any proposed change.

An informal consultation will now be carried out into the expansion proposal. A decision is expected to be taken by the cabinet in December, following a statutory consultation – and, if it is given the go-ahead, the school would open in September 2023.

County council leader Phillippa Williamson who was the cabinet member for schools until last month, said: “I know from feedback I’ve had in the past, it’s a very important issue for residents and families locally.

Phase one of the Higher Standen Farm estate has been completed and planning permission has been granted for the spine road to serve the next two phases.

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