Colchester schools in turmoil

PROPOSALS to reorganise education in Colchester have been thrown into turmoil after the Building Schools for the Future programme was axed by the Government.

Essex County Council had proposed a radical shake-up with the closure of the Alderman Blaxill and Thomas Lord Dudley schools and converting Sir Charles Lucas school into an academy.

Three other schools would have been expanded and the Greensward Academy developed further.

All the schools proposals have been stopped except those for the Sir Charles Lucas and Greensward academies which are to be subject to further discussion.

The news came as a disappointment to Steve Castle, Essex County Council cabinet member with responsibility for education.

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He said: “We do need to improve the schools in the Colchester area and this was a key element of the improvements we were trying to bring forward.

“There is still a lot of work that needs to be done in the town. There are still two schools that are unpopular with parents and are not seen to be doing their best for their students.

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“We still want to reorganise this and we will have to see what resources there are when the Chancellor publishes his comprehensive spending review in October.”

Education officials have not shut the door on new developments at academies but they are waiting to hear what independent funding is available to them – meaning two of the school projects could still go ahead.

Mr Castle added: “To some extent we are now back at square one, but we know what we want to achieve for pupils in the Colchester area and there will be other ways of getting the schools we want.

“We will have to do quite a bit more work – but this is not the end of the story.”

Colchester LibDem MP Bob Russell has written to Education Secretary Michael Gove demanding that the Sir Charles Lucas is allowed to develop as planned.

His letter says: “The secondary school will become an Academy at the start of the next Academic Year.

“It will emerge with a new name – that of the “Colchester Academy” – and with a new Head and new uniform etc. All of this has been announced.

“But it will still be in the same buildings. They are well past their sell-by date. They need to be replaced. That is what the people of this part of Colchester have been promised.

“I am concerned that your statement puts a huge question mark over the new building – with the comment in the table for Essex schools stating simply ‘for discussion’.”

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