• The first joint strike action planned for 19th and 20th June at The Grove Academy, extending throughout June
  • Members will be covering over 10 miles as they march around the 6 Harrogate schools The Grove Academy Pupil Referral Unit serves. Leadership at each of these schools will be present for a photograph to express their support for The Grove and its staff.
  • North Yorkshire County Council are to cut funding to PRUs by £2 million this year -driven by National Government continued and increasing under funding of all Local Authorities,
  • As a result of these cuts The Grove Academy faces closure by Christmas 2019 if nothing changes
  • Blanket cuts within North Yorkshire will mean a reduced service for all Pupil Referral units (PRU) in the county – the most vulnerable will suffer and jobs will inevitably be lost
  • All of North Yorkshire’s PRUs are currently judged Good or Outstanding by OFSTED. The Grove has been rated Outstanding 3 times.

Teachers and support staff have been forced into acting in defence of the lifeline for the county’s most vulnerable and at-risk young people. A lifeline, local schools depend on to support the hardest to reach children.

Members of the NASUWT, NEU, and UNISON at the Grove Academy in Harrogate, a part of the Delta Academies Trust, are standing up for the future of the Pupil Referral Service in North Yorkshire. The Grove, a PRU rated ‘outstanding,’ supports 10 schools in total: Rossett High School, Harrogate Grammar School, St Aidan’s Church of England High School, St John Fisher’s Catholic High School, Harrogate High School, King James’s Secondary School, Boroughbridge High School, Nidderdale High School, Outwood Academy Ripon and Ripon Grammar School.

As a result of this cut in funding the Grove Academy is now facing closure by Christmas. Closure, unless all parties come together and support an alternative plan. North Yorkshire County Council must support the PRU in the interim, until July, until other arrangements can be put in place, or all the expertise and facilities will be lost. To date NYCC has refused to engage with union representatives and made no effort to reach a resolution to this crisis.   

Staff at the at The Grove have voted to take strike action after an exhaustive campaign to persuade the council to reconsider cuts that will result in closures and cuts to service across the county and press National Government urgently to reverse their negative funding. In 2018 North Yorkshire PRUs lost around 25% of their total budget; next year they will lose a further 25 to 40%. Pupil Referral Units educate some of the most ‘at risk’ children in the country. Their purpose is to provide a temporary placement for children who have been permanently excluded or are at risk of exclusion. The cost of neglecting these students was highlighted by Ofsted’s Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman.

The Grove Academy is an essential part of the education service in Harrogate, and the wider community. On the 19th members will emphasise this point by visiting each of the 6 schools the PRU serves while taking strike action. We are inviting each of these schools to come and speak to us and state how essential the provision of an outstanding pupil referral service is to them.

Mark Harrison Regional Organiser UNISON;

“Still no support from Andrew Jones MP. The closure is the direct result of the national government funding cuts. Why doesn't he fight for his constituents? Why lose this vital local service?”

Tim Toepritz, NASUWT National Executive Member;

 “It is quite remarkable that such a lack of priority and consideration is given to the most vulnerable children in our community. Here we have outstanding provision for those youngsters, recognised as such year on year by Ofsted, which is to be axed seemingly without a plan moving forward. Once again, staff are having to voice their objections in the most extreme way possible simply in order to try and get someone to take the issue seriously. The staff and Harrogate community of schools are united in their stance – at least someone cares.”

 Chris Head National Executive Member,  North and West Yorkshire;

 “It is important that we highlight the source of the desperate problems for the Grove Academy, Harrogate. Over the last eight years the Government has made the political decision to plunder the grant to Local Authorities such as NYCC, these cuts are now being passed onto educational settings that support our most vulnerable children such as the Pupil Referral Service. It is sad that these cuts seem to have been passed on, so easily by elected Councillors, to the most needy children in our area. If our politicians both National and Local are not willing to protect the most vulnerable in our community then they must step aside and allow people who are to reverse this appalling situation. I applaud and am very proud of our colleagues at Grove who have made such a stand, shoulder to shoulder, to make the attack on these children known to the wider community and would highlight this example to members of other services that are also suffering such an horrendous financial assault and encourage them to stand together and say as loud as possible – no, not here, not now, not ever!”

Alex Boyce, NEU representative, and Head of English at the Grove Academy;

“We are walking today to show that we support our local schools and they support us. This march demonstrates the solidarity of all staff in the Harrogate area; We are united in our objections to the council’s cuts, united against the closure of the Grove and united in defence of our young people. For many years we have worked closely together to ensure the best outcomes for the children in this community. If the Grove closes, decades of expertise and experience will be lost and the community will lose a vital safety net.”

“We are appealing to the council to grant the school sufficient funding to stay open until next summer. This would give Grove management a fighting chance of working out a new, sustainable arrangement directly with our supportive local schools. All we want is this chance.”

Lesley Davis, NEU Branch Secretary, Delta;

“It is imperative that plans are put in place by NYCC and shared with Delta Academy Trust and the staff, parents and students at The Grove as a matter of urgency. NYCC complacent attitude regarding the sharing of its overarching plans for the PRUs in Harrogate and where The Grove fits in to those plan needs to be shared as a matter of urgency. Suggesting that the staff and students at The Grove should wait to hear their fate until the end of this term is simply unacceptable.”

“How is Delta and The Grove supposed to plan the provision for these students when NYCC will not sit down with the trust and share its plans? The students at The Grove are some of the most challenging and vulnerable students in Harrogate and they need and deserve to receive the ‘outstanding’ provision they have come to rely upon.”

Joint action, involving NASUWT, NEU, and Unison, at The Grove academy PRS will take place on the 19th and 20th of June and on further dates throughout June.

  • Photo call at the picket line outside the Grove Academy at 0800 on June 19th.
  • Rally with speakers outside the following schools;
    • 1 - Rossett High School – 0900. Photo op with Gavin Davies, Director of Behaviour and/or another member of senior leadership TBC.
    • 2 – Harrogate Grammar School – 0930. Photo op with Richard Sheriff, Executive Headteacher and CEO of Red Kite Learning Trust.
    • 3 – St Aidan’s Church of England High School – 1000. Photo op with John Wood, Headteacher.
    • 4 – St John Fisher’s Catholic High School – 1015. Photo op with Paul Stansfield, Deputy Headteacher.
    • 5 – Harrogate High School – 1100. Photo op with Sue Wilkinson, Assistant Headteacher.
    • 6 – King James’s Secondary School – 1230. Photo op with Helen Handley, Assistant Headteacher.
  • Photo call at the picket line outside the Grove Academy at 0815 on June 20th.
  • Collection of petitions and postcards to Andrew Jones MP at 1030 – 1300 on June 20th.
three unions


Press contacts:

NEU Contact:

Yorkshire Midland Regional Office (Doncaster): 01302 342 448

Out of hours: Dave Pike - 07841033990 / dave.pike@neu.org.uk

Press officers: 02073804706 / 07879480061

UNISON Contact:

Mark Harrison 01132182384/07944191694 / m.harrison@unison.co.uk

 NASUWT Contact:

Chris Head and Tim Toepritz (National Executive Members for the NASUWT in District 7)

0113 2014600 / rc-yorksandhumb@mail.nasuwt.org.uk