Urgent meeting is called to discuss the future of Unity School in Wisbech, says MP Steve Barclay
PUBLISHED: 17:42 27 February 2018 | UPDATED: 15:03 28 February 2018
MP Steve Barclay has stepped into the arena to protect students at Unity school in Wisbech who could be forced to travel more than 40 miles to study in St Neots.
Parents were sent letters announcing that the trust which runs the school plans to close its Fens base and merge with its sister site more than 40 miles away.
The say journey times of senior teaching staff between the two sites is wasting time and money.
Cambridgeshire County Council are concerned and now Mr Barclay has joined the debate saying: “As this school is an Academy I understand that any movement of the students needs to be approved by the Regional Schools Commissioner and I have asked her to meet with me as a priority.
“I have also written to the Opportunity Area Education Board for their views given that, on the one hand the Wisbech site has limited facilities, but, on the other students will face much longer journeys to an alternative site.
“Last Friday I met with Jonathan Lewis, the newly appointed service director for education for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, and we discussed exploring alternative, more local, provision for the students currently being taught at Unity TBAP.”
The school, on an industrial estate on the edge of town in Algores Way, provides education and therapeutic learning for 24 children with social, emotional and mental health needs aged from 11 to 18.
The trust in charge of Unity, TBAP, said the St Neots unit has better facilities and the merge would save the time and expense of senior leaders travelling between the two schools.
It would also save building maintenance costs, they said.
A Cambridgeshire County Council spokesman said: “Following our meeting about the proposed closure of The Unity School in Wisbech last week, we have secured a slight extension with the TBAP Unity Academy Trust to the deadline for comments to their consultation to February 28.
“The Trust is required to submit a full business case outlining the consultation and the reasons for their proposed changes.
“As this is an academy, this will be referred to the Regional Schools Commissioner’s Head Teacher Board who will make a decision on the plans.
“TBAP has confirmed that it will be keeping staff and parents informed of the next steps in the process and that education will continue to be delivered from the Wisbech site for the remainder of the school year. The earliest date any changes could be implemented will be September 2018. ”
ne parent said: “How are children supposed to cope with those long journeys at the start and end of school days? My son is a teenager with a mental age of a toddler, this is all too much.”
Jane Lancaster-Adlam, head of school, said: “The site at St Neots has capacity to accommodate all learners. The facilities ensure that all learning takes place in well-equipped classrooms, offering a broad range of subjects.
“The proposal will result in a structure that is far more efficient, provide a higher quality of provision for the learners and will reduce both staffing and building/ maintenance costs.”