Threatened schools 'could yet be saved'

A PAIR of failing schools which look set to be replaced by a specialist academy could still be saved, it has been claimed.

James Hore

A PAIR of failing schools which look set to be replaced by a specialist academy could still be saved, it has been claimed.

More than 200 people have had their say on plans to close Alderman Blaxill School in Colchester.

Essex County Council's public consultation period has now finished and it is now compiling the results of feedback.

The council has said its preferred option for the high school, in the south the town, would be to close it, along with the Thomas Lord Audley (TLA) School, and replace them with a 1,200-place academy at the TLA site.

But Jerry Glazier, of the Essex branch of the National Union of Teachers, (NUT) said yesterday not enough had been done to evaluate the full impact of moving to one site.

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He said: “Contrary to the assertions of the local authority's consultation document, the Essex NUT considers a case can be made to keep both schools open.

“What is needed is confidence in the school improvement strategies, the commitment of staff and the support from the communities they serve to sustain smaller but viable secondary school provision in south Colchester.”

Amongst the other ideas put forward during the consultation was an alternative from the Alderman Blaxill School's parents and community forum.

It said it wanted Alderman Blaxill to stay open as part of a “senior school federation” - where it would share resources and services with another school (although not TLA, which already has close links with the Stanway School) - claiming it would be a “more viable option”.

Kevin Starling, from the forum, said: “We feel that Alderman Blaxill School's survival in this way would, in a short space of time make it a viable, successful and, above all, desirable school and asset to the community it has served so well over the years.”

Tracey Chapman, the outgoing cabinet member for schools at Essex County Council, said: “We have always said that if another viable proposal comes forward that will deliver the improvements needed and address the problem of falling school rolls then we are happy to consider those proposals along with the ones that we have made.

“Officers will now do some in depth investigation to see if these proposals meet our requirements.”

james.hore@eadt.co.uk