Doomed Dewsbury school shows big gains

A DOOMED school has produced the biggest improvement in GCSE results in the whole of Yorkshire.

Councillors agreed in December to close Birkdale High School, but headteacher Chris Caraher recently received a letter from a government minister applauding the school’s results.

She said: “We are very proud of it. We have repeatedly said that we knew we were making this kind of progress and we have repeatedly asked Kirklees Council to reconsider its decision, but it has decided not to listen to us.

“I would have liked to have been given the opportunity to continue the drive to improvement we have made.”

This year, 38 per cent of year 11 students at Birkdale got five or more A*-C grades in their GCSEs, including English and maths. The figure in 2007 was just 11 per cent.

The leap in performance is bigger than that made by any other school in Yorkshire, and makes Birkdale one of the top 50 most improved schools in the country.

In a letter sent to Mrs Caraher, schools minster Nick Gibb said: “Your results show that you are amongst the 100 top performing schools based on sustained improvement.

“I would like to congratulate your staff, governors and pupils for their hard work and success and to thank you for your leadership in continuing the drive towards the highest standards of educational achievement.”

The decision to close the school was made as part of a plan to invest more money in Dewsbury’s schools through the Building Schools for the Future programme. But even though BSF was cancelled last year, Kirklees Council still decided to close Birkdale because of its low pupil numbers. The school currently has more than 300 empty places.

Most current pupils will join Westborough High School when it takes over the Birkdale building in Wheelwright Drive in September. Mrs Caraher has been told that she will lose her job but the future for the rest of the staff is unclear.