Kirklees Council is about to press the button on a £50 million scheme to build two new special schools.

The council’s Cabinet will be asked to release cash to start works which could see both new schools open in 2026.

The council plans to demolish the former Almondbury Community School and clear the whole site including the swimming pool and sports centre.

A private pre-school business operating on the site is to be relocated to Almondbury Library and Children’s Centre with the £68,000 cost of improvement works to a creche area within the library being funded by the council.

Once completed, Woodley School and College, currently based in Lowerhouses, will move into the new school.

The other special school will be built on the site of the former Deighton Centre in Deighton and will see Joseph Norton Academy relocate from Scissett.


Below computer-generated images of what Woodley School and College could look like


A report to Cabinet on July 9 says £48.3 million has been allocated for the building of the two schools with a further grant of £7 million from the Government which could also be used if necessary.

When funds are released the council will appoint a contractor to clear the former high school site in Fernside Avenue, Almondbury.

Demolition could start later this year and take around six months. Construction work could start on the new Woodley school in summer 2025 and be completed in autumn 2026.

Woodley will cater for children and young people with autism and have 180 places.

The former Deighton Centre has already been demolished and planning permission has been approved.

The next stage is to appoint a contractor to build the new 132-place Joseph Norton Academy and work could start towards the end of 2024 and be completed for spring 2026.

Below computer-generated images of what the new Joseph Norton Academy could look like


The projected cost of the two new developments has already risen by £11 million since the scheme was first proposed in 2021 and the council can’t rule out more increases.

The Cabinet report says: “The construction market is particularly volatile at present which means that appointing a contractor at a tender figure that is affordable and value for money for the council has become increasingly difficult.”

Joseph Norton Academy caters for children and young people with various needs. The existing school only has 63 places and there’s limited space for expansion.

The new school will have 132 places for children and young people aged four to 18 in a more central location, cutting travel distances for some pupils.

There is a growing demand for Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) places across Kirklees.


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