End of the road for troubled Burnley school as last ditch attempt to save it fails
The battle to save a troubled Burnley high school has finally ended with news that it will definitely close.
Campaigners, who fought to the bitter end to save Hameldon Community College, were thrown a lifeline last week when the decision to close it, made by Lancashire County Council last week, was "called in" after seven county councillors requested a recall at County Hall.
But at a special meeting yesterday the request for the county council's cabinet to reconsider its decision was kicked out.
A spokesman for the county council said: "A special meeting of the Education Scrutiny Committee was held yesterday to consider whether to ask the county council's cabinet to reconsider its decision on Hameldon Community College.
"After hearing evidence from parents, local councillors and officers, councillors on the committee decided that the cabinet decision should be upheld and doesn't need to be looked at again.
"A phased closure of the school will start from August 31st this year to minimise any disruption to pupils.
"The school will have closed by August 31st, 2019.
"The county council remains committed to the proposal of providing intensive support to the school, so that the pupils receive the best education possible and are not disadvantaged by the school closing."
Current Year 10 pupils will remain at the school and specific arrangements will be made for them to complete their Key Stage 4 education and GCSE exams. The Year 10 pupils that this affects will leave the school in July 2019.
The current Year 11 pupils will be unaffected by this decision and will leave the school this July.
Pupils currently in years seven, eight and nine will move to a different school for the start of the new term in September 2018.
Lancashire County Council announced two weeks ago that it would close the school permanently on August 31st citing educational standards, the school’s financial deficit and the falling pupil numbers.
County Coun. Susie Charles, Lancashire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Schools, said: “I’m fully aware of the different views about this proposal. But it has been considered at length by members of the cabinet, taking careful account of both sides.
“Closing a school isn’t something that is done lightly and it certainly would not be happening now if the arguments for closure weren’t as strong as they are.
“We have a duty to provide a high-quality education for all of our young people and we cannot justify keeping open a school with consistently poor results, in spite of the range of additional support that the county council has provided.
“The low number of pupils at the school makes it difficult for it to provide a broad and balanced education.
“There are now fewer than 200 pupils in a school built for 750. These numbers impact on the school’s financial situation which means that the school must lose teachers and other staff to be able to balance the books. This then has an additional knock-on effect on standards at the school.
“I’m fully aware that some people wanted Hameldon to stay open, but the truth is that the school’s difficulties go back many years and the situation hasn’t improved despite the best efforts of everyone involved.
"We really have tried.
“Ofsted inspectors have also been very concerned about the school for many years.
“I’m conscious of the distress and disruption any school closure causes and we will do all we can to help with this. But we cannot continue to support a school which does not meet the required standards and certainly not those that we expect for Lancashire pupils.
“The circumstances mean that it is very difficult for Hameldon to provide pupils with the education they deserve.
“I’d like to reassure parents of our firm intention and commitment to providing the best possible educational experience to all of our young people.”