16 Jun 2008 : Column 9P

16 Jun 2008 : Column 9P

Petition

Monday 16 June 2008

Observations

Children, Schools and Families

Alderman Blaxill School

The Petition of Kevin Starling, Lyn Barton and Nigel Offen - and pupils and former pupils of Alderman Blaxill School, Colchester, together with parents, residents and others,

Declares that the school has a special place in the life of the Shrub End community in accordance with the Government's policies towards promoting sustainable communities; consider that its position as the town's smallest secondary school should be regarded as a positive reason for its retention rather than a reason for closure or merger; stresses in particular the important role the school has with its special relationship with the Colchester Garrison and the teaching of pupils whose parents serve in HM Armed Forces; and point out that the school is the only one in Colchester with a unit specialising in dyslexia.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons call on the Government to (a) stop Essex Council from closing or merging Alderman Blaxill
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School and (b) to ensure that all necessary support, financial and otherwise, is given to enable the school to improve its performance and to continue to be an integral part of the community in the years ahead.

And the Petitioners remain, etc. —[Presented by Bob Russell , Official Report, 2 April 2008; Vol. 474, c. 889 .] [P000166]

Observations from the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families :

Alderman Blaxill was inspected by Ofsted in May 2007 and placed in special measures as it was not providing an acceptable standard of education. At its most recent monitoring visit in February 2008 Ofsted judged that inadequate progress had been made since being in special measures.

Standards at the school are low, with only 17 per cent. of pupils achieving five or more A*-C grades at GCSE including English and maths, and action to transform the educational prospects and life chances for pupils at the school is required.

It is the local authority’s decision (subject to the normal procedures) whether or not to close the school. It has been consulting on proposals to close Alderman Blaxill and reopen it as an Academy with Thomas Lord Audley School in 2009. The proposed academy would be on the Thomas Lord Audley site but a final decision has not yet been made by the authority.

The Department is providing revenue funding of £200,000 to assist collaborative working between the two schools and to support the transition to the proposed Academy.


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