Parents voice anger at school plans

FURIOUS parents voiced their overwhelming opposition to the leader of Essex County Council last night over plans to close two schools and replace a third with an academy.

Elliot Furniss

FURIOUS parents voiced their overwhelming opposition to the leader of Essex County Council last night over plans to close two schools and replace a third with an academy.

It was the final chance for Colchester residents to express their views to Lord Hanningfield about how best to improve the standard of education in the town.

The council is currently consulting on three options - although concerned parents have put forward a fourth.


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Its preferred way forward is to close the Alderman Blaxill, Thomas Lord Audley (TLA) and Sir Charles Lucas schools - replacing the later with an academy.

Pupils falling within the catchment areas of Alderman Blaxill and TLA would then be redistributed among the five other non-selective secondary schools serving the Colchester area.

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However parents have angrily opposed the plans since they were first unveiled and turned out in force at the Weston Homes Community Stadium to have one last say at the final public meeting.

The “fourth option”, which would see Alderman Blaxill and TLA form a federation with the Stanway School, has been backed by Colchester Borough Council and the town's MP Bob Russell, who also spoke at the meeting.

Mr Russell said Lord Hanningfield, who has agreed to look at the details of the alternative proposal, needed to do what was best for the town and its children but feared he had already made his mind up.

He said: “I'm convinced that Lord Hanningfield is trying to push through option one. He's hearing what you're (the parents) saying but he's not listening.”

He told the council leader to “go with the community and work with the community” and not work against it.

He received loud applause from most of the crowd - some of whom had already urged Lord Hanningfield to adopt option four.

Richard Doyle, who has had children at TLA over the past 14 years, said the school was improving and should be given a chance to continue that progress made under the temporary federation that would be cemented by option four.

He said: “Judging by the meetings I have had with other parents from the school, there is a lot of support for option four.”

Lord Hanningfield said he would take on board all the comments and feedback from the parents and groups represented during the meetings held over the past month.

He said: “There are three formal options that were very, very carefully thought out. We came here to consult and to hear people.

“What we will do is a critical analysis of how things would work. Crucially, the Government will decide.”

The consultation process closes on December 19 and a decision on the schools' future will be announced early next year.

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