School closure decision under fire from council

Charles Read Academy
Charles Read Academy
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A county council has criticised a decision to close a school and move pupils and staff 11 miles away to Grantham,

The West Grantham Academies Trust announced this week that Charles Read Academy in Corby Glen will shut by September 2014.

The 230 pupils at Charles Read will transfer to the West Grantham Academy St Hugh’s.

In 2011, the school became an academy, and therefore independent of Lincolnshire County Counci, and joined the trust.

Academies trust chief executive officer Trudy Brothwell said she believed the move would “increase opportunities for the Charles Read Academy students”.

However Lincolnshire County Council has criticised the decision.

Executive councillor for children’s services, coun Patricia Bradwell (Con), said: “This is a decision that has been taken by the academy in consultation with the Department for Education.

“It is not a county council decision and we are disappointed that the academy trust is taking this action.

“To place Charles Read pupils at St Hugh’s would result in young people travelling vast distances to school and we do not think that parents would want this.

“The proposals would also significantly increase transport costs which would have to be met by the county council.”

Council leader coun Martin Hill (Con) added: “As the local county council member for this area, I am extremely disappointed that a decision of this note has been taken without any consultation or input from us.

“It’s important to note that Grantham has ‘growth point’ status and is expected to see a considerable increase in pupil numbers from September 2014 for primary intakes, so closing the school makes little sense and reduces the ability to plan for the future.”

Charles Read pupils will be able to enrol on courses currently offered at St Hugh’s such as drama, dance, media, engineering, Spanish and hairdressing.

Mrs Brothwell said: “The education standards are very different in the two schools. Educational standards in St Hugh’s are outstanding. Pupils’ attainment on entry is low but standards achieved when they leave is outstanding.

“A lot of work has taken place at Charles Read to raise it up to the same standards. This has not happened so obviously we want to make sure that youngsters have access to the best possible provision they can.”

Parents have been told about the closure in a letter this week.

Charles Read is one of four schools under the umbrella of the West Grantham Academies Trust, along with St Hugh’s, Earl of Dysart Primary School and Spitalgate Primary School.

It was listed in the bottom 200 in the country in the latest school league tables, with just 38 per cent of pupils achieving five A*-C grades at GCSE level.

Mrs Brothwell said there was no link between poor attainment and the decision to close the school.

She said the decision to close the school was made in part because of changes in Government funding, which is allocated per pupil.

According to local authority figures, there will be fewer children starting secondary schools in the next few years which will result in less funding for all Grantham area schools. More pupils are expected to enrol in primary schools.

Mrs Brothwell said there would be no job losses as a result of the school’s 
closure.

Additional classroom space is already available to cope with the addition of 230 Charles Read pupils, as the two primary schools under the trust have merged.