Parents say thanks to supporters of their campaign to save Burnley school

Parents, who launched an ill fated campaign to save a Burnley high school from closure, have thanked everyone who helped them.

Friday, 27th April 2018, 4:08 pm
Updated Friday, 27th April 2018, 4:16 pm
Save Hameldon campaigners from (left to right) Mary Fleming, Elizabeth Clayton and Sarah Ingham. .

Members of Save Hameldon, a facebook page set up by parents and supporters of the college, said today they wanted to thank everyone who had backed their campaign to keep the school open.

The battle ended this week when the final announcement was made that the school in Coal Clough Lane would close.

Campaigners had made a last ditch bid to save it after the original decision was "called in" at the request of seven county councillors.

But after hearing evidence from parents, local councillors and officers, councillors on the Education Scrutiny committee decided that the cabinet decision should be upheld and doesn't need to be looked at again.

It was the end of a long and hard fought battle for parents who had campaigned relentlessly to keep the school open for their children.

Speaking on behalf of the group, parent Sarah Ingham, said: "We have had many ups and downs along our campaign journey. We have found ourselves in the middle of a political playground with each party pointing fingers as to whom is to blame.

"We as a campaign group have never taken sides which shows in the mix of councillors that we had supporting us.

"We proved our honest case through our own investigations.

"Hameldon Community college, like all schools has had issues in the past.

"Reputation, bad press and to the biggest issue of all PFI debt. Parents should be PFI informed and made aware of what exactly it means for a school, rent which can cause crippling debt andf if you do not have the right number of students for the school to cover it your child has a price tag."

Campaigners had branded the public consultation on the future of the college as a "shambles" claiming that the correct protocol was not followed and the decision had been made before it even began.

But the county council said that despite considerable support over the years the school was unable to overcome its significant challenges, which include long-term problems attracting pupils, and associated issues around educational standards and finances.

County Coun. Susie Charles, Lancashire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Schools, said the decision had not been taken lightly saying: “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.”

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.

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.

Save Hameldon campaigners have personally thanked the following people for their support: County councillors Jeff Sumner, Sobia Malik and Alan Hosker, Gordon Birtwistle, Coun. Bea Foster, Calico Community involvement advisor Alicia Foley, Chris Keens. Choc Stop, Buttercup's florists, Nu-age print & copy, Vantex, Booker's, Cherry tree bakery and all staff, governors and students.