Colchester: Education secretary Michael Gove gives hope over school closure

A SECONDARY school which is set close in 2014 has been given fresh hope by the Government’s education secretary that it could be re-opened after a couple of years.

On a visit to Colchester yesterday, Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove said he was “getting the information on the ground” over the closure of Alderman Blaxill School.

Mr Gove held a meeting with Colchester’s MP Bob Russell, who had invited him to the town, and Jonathan Tippett, headteacher of the Stanway Federation which includes Alderman Blaxill.

Before the meeting Mr Gove told the EADT: “One of the reasons I wanted to come here was to talk about secondary education and I know that one school has been through a difficult time and has now been turned around.

“The future of Alderman Blaxill has a question mark hanging over it and I have come here is to get the information on the ground.

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“We know there’s a large amount of investment in this area and that Colchester is one of the fastest growing communities.

“We have to be very careful when thinking about secondary schools that there are enough places available for pupils in the future.”

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The school on Paxman Avenue is due to accept its last Year 7 intake in September before shutting in 2014. Essex County Council made the decision to close the school after most of a �130million pot earmarked for rebuilding schools was axed by the Coalition Government.

Although the borough is going through a dip in the number of 11- to 16-year-old pupils who need places at secondary school, it has been acknowledged that Colchester is one of the fastest growing areas and pupil numbers will rise.

Mr Russell said: “This was a really useful meeting and I’m hopeful that out of this will come a solution to the problem of having a temporary dip in student numbers.

“If you take Alderman Blaxill out of the system permanently then by 2017 there will be a shortage of places. We were looking at ways to deal with the mid-term problem without compromising a long-term solution.

“I believe that from the discussion we will result in a mothballed school being reopened when the numbers pick up. It’s important that the school buildings remain within the federation.

“Jonathan Tippett referred to secondary school provision right across the borough of Colchester and not just the schools which are of particular concern to him.”

Alderman Blaxill, which has previously been in special measures, was described as “improving quickly” in a recent report by education watchdog Ofsted. The school is part of a federation with Stanway and Thomas Lord Audley schools.

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