"We’ll fight school closure"

Reporter:

Thomas Morton

STAFF and governors at Wakeman School have lodged an appeal against the plan to close the school.

Last week Shropshire Council sounded a final death knell for the school with a unanimous decision by the cabinet to close it in 2013. A decision to close the school had already been made in July, but consultation was re-opened after protests from campaigners that conditions had not been met.

The blow comes after Wakeman achieved its best ever GCSE results this summer, with 61.5 per cent of students gaining A* to C grades including English and Mathematics.

Now an appeal has been lodged with the schools’ adjudicator over the decision.
Wakeman headteacher Karen Moore said she had “huge concerns” about the consultation process.

She said the school was also considering going for academy status, meaning it would no longer be under local authority control.

Cllr Aggie Caesar-Homden, cabinet member for education, said she had no such concerns about the processes carried out by the council.

On the day of the vote she said “These have been extremely hard decisions to make. No one wants to close a school.

“We have carefully considered all the issues and options and reached our decision in the best interests of all pupils in Shropshire.

“From the beginning people have been urged to come up with viable, long term alternatives to the proposals, which still ensure we can provide excellent education for all our children.

“We will continue to work closely with the school, pupils, parents and the wider community to support them at every step. We will also work closely with those schools receiving pupils to ensure there is as little disruption as possible.

“This includes ensuring that those Wakeman School pupils approaching GCSE courses can transfer earlier to new schools, where they can undertake the whole of their studies.”

The council said pupil numbers at Wakeman were “unsustainable”. The school has the capacity for 675 pupils but currently only 240 on its roll.

Campaigners, however, said falling numbers were due to rumours about the school’s future which had been circulating for the last five years.

David Taylor, director of people services at Shropshire Council, said the closure of the Wakeman would mean about £1.75m a year could be redistributed to other schools.

Pupils would be accommodated at other schools with Meole Brace as the preferred option and the impact would be minimised by phasing the closure over two years.

See full story in the Leader

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