New start for troubled Essex school

A SCHOOL which was under the threat of closure has had its long-term future secured after the Government approved plans to make it part of an academy.

Annie Davidson

A SCHOOL which was under the threat of closure has had its long-term future secured after the Government approved plans to make it part of an academy.

Bishops Park College will join with Colbayns High School, both in Clacton, to become one establishment called Tendring Coastal Academy if the proposal is rubber-stamped following a consultation period.

Nick Pavitt, executive headteacher of both schools, said the news was “really positive and exciting” for both staff and the 1,700 students at both schools.

A year ago, Bishops Park in west Clacton was facing closure about being labelled a failing school.

It opened in 2002 by then Prime Minister Tony Blair to great fanfare but by early 2008 had been earmarked for closure by education bosses after poor reports by Government inspectors.

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The �25million school remains in special measures but avoided the axe when a federation was formed between Bishops Park and Colbayns High.

Colbayns headteacher Mr Pavitt became executive headteacher of Bishops Park and one governing body has overseen both schools under the West Clacton Education Partnership since September last year.

Under the new plans both Colbayns and Bishops Park would officially close on August 31 this year and reopen as an academy the following day. The name of the new school has yet to be finalised but the current idea is to call it Tendring Coastal Academy.

Mr Pavitt said: “Over a year ago the governors of both schools started thinking they wanted to become an academy and to work even more closely together and the schools minister has approved a 20-week feasibility consultation with staff, parents and the public and other interested bodies to see if everybody is in agreement to become a single academy working on both sites.

“Instead of the two institutions not being able to use their financial resources flexibly at both sites it can benefit all children once the governors are able to direct monies to the needs of the whole area.

“We will also be able to bring in considerable new resources linking in with the sponsor Academies Enterprise Trust which has already got three academies in Essex.”

Mr Pavitt admitted the changes would come with some sadness, particularly the loss of the name Colbayns.

“There will be a great deal of sadness as a well as excitement, I have been at Colbayns for 12 years, it is in my heart and my being and I love it to bits,” he said.

“But it is not going to just disappear it is having a further renaissance and although there will be many people very sad about the change of the name I hope they will also be delighted to see it go from strength to strength

“Colbayns is making very positive progress and doing very well and Bishops Park, although in special measures, is making good progress to come out,

“It is a wonderful building with great facilities which the local community should benefit from - it would be a terrible waste of public money (to close it).

“The last monitoring report said the school had made good progress, we are having another visit in March and a visit in July which we intend will take us out of special measures.”

Once the feasibility consultation has been completed and if it wins public approval, plans to close the two schools and open an academy would be publicised locally before a final decision is made by the Government in the summer.