Colchester: Headteacher backs school closure plan

A HEADTEACHER is urging parents to back plans for the “temporary” closure of a secondary school in Colchester.

This week a major consultation was launched by Essex County Council to decide the future of secondary education in the borough following the loss of a Government investment worth �130 million.

Currently there are not enough children to fill all the school places in Colchester and the plan is to close Alderman Blaxill, on Paxman Avenue, in August 2014, with admissions to Year 7 ceasing in September 2012.

Jonathan Tippett, headteacher of the Stanway Federation, which runs Stanway, Thomas Lord Audley and Alderman Blaxill schools, said the proposals were a necessary short-term solution.

“The governing body has agreed that Alderman Blaxill is not viable – it’s costing us money which we can’t afford,” said Mr Tippett. “We have agreed in the short term that this needs to be done.

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“What we need to get out in the public domain is that this is not the end for a school on that site. We know that the children exist so that by 2015 there will be enough new students to justify reopening the school.”

A public meeting to discuss the proposals is being held in The Moot Hall, Colchester Town Hall, at 7.30pm on Wednesday December 1, and Mr Tippett said that it would be a united front from headteachers, governors and Essex County Council.

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“The five headteachers that were affected by the loss of the Building Schools for the Future programme have sat down and agreed the way forward,” he said.

“It will be completely different from the last public meeting; this time the headteachers will be at the front saying we agree with these plans and I think huge credit for that has to go to Stephen Castle [county councillor for education].”

Mr Tippett promised that the education of the children affected by the closure of Alderman Blaxill would be paramount and all the students would be offered places at Stanway or Thomas Lord Audley.

Although there is a surplus of more than 1,000 school places across Colchester it is estimated that more than 5,000 houses being built in the town between 2011 and 2017 will create a demand above what the schools can currently provide.

Cllr Castle said: “I am very pleased that we are working in partnership with the schools to tackle these challenges and that together we are bringing forward the proposal as a solution to the immediate short term problem and will be consulting again in the future about the longer term situation.”

To view the consultation visit and click on the link to the education and schools section.

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