On Air: PETE EGERTON

: Waiting for next track...

: Waiting for next track...

"It's outrageous": Harrogate teenager's fight to save her former school from "devastating" cuts

Zoe Pickering

Published at 7:02am 6th November 2018.

Cuts to North Yorkshire's Pupil Referral Units have been branded "outrageous" and "devastating" by a former Harrogate pupil. 

17-year-old Zoe Pickering attended The Grove Academy, Harrogate's Pupil Referral Unit, when she was 14. 

The school, which is rated as Outstanding by Ofsted, takes children with complex behavioural and mental health problems who have been excluded from mainstream education.

It's facing a 83% reduction in funding, a loss of £800,000. Nine teachers will lose their jobs and several arts subjects will be lost.

North Yorkshire County Council is currently consulting on plans to change the way it funds provision for children and young people with additional needs. It means all of its Pupil Referral Units will receive a funding cut. 

Zoe, who's autistic, received a GCSE in Art during her two years at the school. She says she's worried about the impact losing arts subjects will have on students. 

She told Stray FM: 

"It made my self-esteem go up and I feel like I have the ability to do things, which a lot of the time I don't, especially before I got that qualification.

"I feel outraged because that was the most important part of my education. For a lot of people it would be more helpful than you can imagine." 

Zoe has launched a petition which so far has more than 1,000 signatures. She is also encouraging people to go to a public consultation event which is taking place tomorrow at The Cedar Court Hotel at midday.

You can hear more from Zoe here: 

 

 

Zoe's mum, Dr Rachael Pickering, became a parent governor at The Grove shortly after Zoe started there. A former prison GP, she's taken over as governor responsible for safeguarding. She says the cuts mean the school will only be able to offer English and Maths, which could be devastating for the students.

She said: 

"Children who are very hard to educate have often lost such a lot of confidence in these mainstream English and Maths classes that they don't want to touch it. As Zoe's story shows, it's Art or another creative or non-academic discipline that draws them back in."

Rachael is also raising concerns over student safety if the cuts go ahead. 

She added

"With a skeleton staff at The Grove, children with special needs, people with neurodevelopmental problems such as autism, people with complex mental health problems such as bipolar, they won't be able to be safely and properly supported.

"And we ignore these children at our peril. Society needs to plug the gap between people who are not bale to be educated in mainstream schools and people who risk dropping out of mainstream school altogether. 

"I happen to be a prison GP by profession. I've seen young adults arriving for their first prison term who talk about, as an early teenager, dropping out of mainstream school. They hang about on the streets and get no chance for a niche, bespoke education." 

A Stray FM investigation has revealed the number of students excluded from secondary schools in North Yorkshire has risen over the last three years. Since 2015, the figure has risen by nearly a third, going from 1,526 in 2015-16 to 1,978 in 2017-18. 

Rachael says they have noticed a rise in the number of children referred to The Grove. 

You can hear more from Rachael here: 

 

North Yorkshire County Council says it wants students to remain in mainstream education where possible, and is suggesting creating local partnerships made up of leaders from local primary and secondary schools and post-16 providers.

It says the plan was shaped by feedback from families, young people and partners.

Jane le Sage, North Yorkshire County Council’s assistant director for inclusion, said:

“Our vision is to deliver better outcomes for young people. We know that permanent exclusion has a negative impact in terms of educational outcomes and options in later life. So wherever possible we believe children should remain within mainstream education, in their local school with support to meet their needs.

“The proposals we are now consulting on are designed to help us to achieve that vision. We want to put spending power into the hands of local education leaders who best understand the needs in their area. We want to enable schools to utilise the resources available for alternative provision more flexibly to meet children’s needs in the best way, with the goal of reducing the number of young people permanently excluded and improving outcomes for them.

“That’s why we propose creating local partnerships made up of leaders from local primary and secondary schools and post-16 providers. The partnerships would work with the local authority, putting decision-making into the hands of local leaders. The partnerships would be allocated a sum of money and would have the flexibility to decide how to use that money to meet the needs of children and young people.

“Under our proposals, we would still provide enough places for the education of young people who have been permanently excluded from school. In Harrogate we intend to commission between 28 and 31 places per year and we would fund these places at £17,000 a place, rather than the current £19,000, which would bring us into line with national averages. Local partnerships could commission more provision from the pupil referral service if they felt that was the best option.

“As outlined in our strategic plan, we are reviewing the model of provision for young people who are unable to attend school due to medical conditions, including those with mental health needs, to strengthen the support they receive. We will ensure that this provision is available to those who need it and any proposed changes will be subject to a full public consultation in the near future.

“We recognise that our proposals may impact on the current model of alternative provision, but we are committed to working with mainstream and pupil referral service/alternative provision head teachers to agree a model which is fit for purpose into the future and focuses more on prevention rather than the need for permanent exclusion.”

North Yorkshire County Council's plans are currently out for consultation until 11th November.

The survey is on the county council website at www.northyorks.gov.uk/hnbconsult

You can find Zoe's petition at www.change.org/p/north-yorkshire-county-council-save-north-yorkshire-s-pupil-referral-service

Zoe also has a Facebook page, which you can find by searching Save the PRS. 

Email Icon

Sign up for exclusive news, competitions and offers.
Proper Local News updates from Stray FM

Newer article

More teachers urge council to rethink "catastrophic" school cuts

Education: Its proposing cutting funding to Pupil Referral Units, which take on excluded students.

Older article

Forest School pupil "cleans up" after special gift from local business

Education: These pictures of 9-year-old Connor Watson receiving a Henry Hoover are the cutest thing you'll see today.

Top articles

Masked robbery in Harrogate

Harrogate, Craven & Wharfedale: It happened outside the Co-op on Skipton Road.

Tara Wright: Four questioned after teenage girl found dead in car outside hospital

National: Four men have been questioned over the death of a teenage girl whose body was found in a car.

Speedboat killer Jack Shepherd agrees to return to UK

World: Speedboat killer Jack Shepherd has agreed to be extradited back to the UK.

UEFA failed football on racism again, says Kick It Out's Troy Townsend

Sport: UEFA have "failed the game again" and must put an end to their "gimmicky" sanctions by taking the strongest possible action against the racism England players were subjected to in Montenegro, says Kick It Out's Troy Townsend.

Jameela Jamil: A man threatened me because I didn't want his phone number

Showbiz: Actress Jameela Jamil has triggered a conversation involving hundreds of women after she described being sexually harassed in the street.

Go GREEN with your business!

Business: Help the environment during Stray FM's Green Month!

Free World of Wellness and Writing event to arrive in Harrogate

Education: With advice and workshops to improve your productivity.

Get ready to 'Dance, Dance, Dance....All Night!'

Family: My Fair Lady is coming to Harrogate Theatre this June.

WATCH: 43 Minutes of Queen in the 70s

70s: The band's team have put together highlights of the their early career including some iconic performances.

Top Party Dresses for the Festive Season

Christmas: Local Blogger, the Harrogate Girl, picks the best frocks, gowns and outfits for the big Christmas parties of 2017.

"It's a fantastic place": Harrogate cancer centre celebrates major milestone

Harrogate, Craven & Wharfedale: The Sir Robert Ogden Macmillan Centre at Harrogate District Hospital is marking its five year anniversary.

"This will make my kids' Christmas"

Harrogate, Craven & Wharfedale: Stray FM and Slingsby Gin offer a little light to a family who've had a tough year just before Christmas

Delve into deliciousness at Mother Shiptons Inn

Test pages: We sent Stray FM's James Stanley to try out the new menu at Mother Shipton's Inn Knaresborough.

UPDATE: Driver cut free following crash on the A65

Harrogate, Craven & Wharfedale: It's believed three cars have collided at Hellifield.

LIVE: Stage 4 of the Tour de Yorkshire

Harrogate, Craven & Wharfedale: The Final stage of the Tour de Yorkshire is on today today, passing through Otley, Blubberhouses, Pateley Bridge and Skipton.

Tour de Yorkshire host venues confirmed

Harrogate, Craven & Wharfedale: There'll be no re-run of this year's memorable Tour de France stage finish in Harrogate.

North Yorkshire districts among best places to live in UK

Harrogate, Craven & Wharfedale: Three parts of North Yorkshire have been named in the top ten places to live in the UK.

Poll

It's Green Month on Stray FM - how important is being green to you?

Trending in Yorkshire

Masked robbery in Harrogate

It happened outside the Co-op on Skipton Road.

Tour de Yorkshire teams confirmed

38 teams will be competing between 2 - 5 May 2019.

'Knit for Knaresborough'

Thousands of poppies are being knitted for the Royal British Legion.

Brownfield land could be used for new Craven homes

Greenbelt campaigners claim there are 44 local vacant sites.

Commissioner launches consultation on Fire Plan

Voice your views in an online survey

More news...