Little Mix / Cheat Codes: Only YouiTunesAmazon

Little Mix / Cheat Codes: Only YouiTunesAmazon

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

Zoe Pickering

Published by Lisa Darvill 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

Train services "not efficient enough" in Yorkshire

Harrogate, Craven & Wharfedale: That's according to the Shadow Transport Secretary who was speaking in the region at the weekend.

Older article
Top articles

Harrogate's hospitality and tourism industry celebrated

Harrogate, Craven & Wharfedale: Organisers announce shortlist for the Harrogate Hospitality and Tourism Awards.

Scrap pensioner benefits to help youths, peers urge government in report

National: Pensioners should have their free TV licences, bus passes and winter fuel payments scrapped, a House of Lords committee has urged.

Joe Biden announces bid to become US president in 2020

World: Former US vice president Joe Biden has announced his candidacy for the 2020 presidential election.

Premier League clubs make record profits as wage bill nears £3billion

Sport: Premier League clubs made record revenues last season but rising wages cut into profits as 'the big six' continued to pull away from the pack in financial terms.

Shockingly Evil: Zac Efron as notorious serial killer Ted Bundy

Showbiz: Zac Efron has spoken about how he got into the psyche of serial killer Ted Bundy at the premiere of his new film about the notorious US murderer.

Financial planning board game encourages families to talk about money

Business: The concept is simple, but will it work for parents and children?

Can you ask for a beer in all these languages?

Education: Holiday language classes in Harrogate launch next week!

Can you ask for a beer in all these languages?

Education: Holiday language classes in Harrogate launch next week!

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.

Local school success in green poem competition

Education: To celebrate Stray FM's Green Month.

Local CAREGiver to run marathon for Asthma UK

Health: She wants to inspire other 'non-runners.'

Mowing your lawn: a pain in the grass

Family: One Harrogate landscaper has the answer.

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.

Hillarys team up with Stray FM for opening broadcast

Stray FM Station News: Harrogate's local radio station will be live from the brand new Hillarys store.

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.

Reports of an accident involving bus and car on A59

Harrogate, Craven & Wharfedale: The road between Knaresborough and Starbeck is partially blocked

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.


Easter... do you do chocolate eggs?

Trending in Yorkshire

Harrogate's hospitality and tourism industry celebrated

Organisers announce shortlist for the Harrogate Hospitality and Tourism Awards.

A61, Ripley, roadwork misery

Drivers faced delays of an hour

Tour de Yorkshire 2019: Road closure details

Harrogate, Ripon, Masham, Nidderdale and Skipton all feature in the route - with rolling road closures expected.

Urban gardening: Harrogate Spring Flower Show 2019

Kerb couture is this year's theme.

VIDEO - RSPCA rescued more than 80 exotic pets in North Yorkshire

They received 240 calls about the animals last year.

More news...