Education: Heathcote must go....

ANY hopes that Heathcote School would be saved from closure were dashed at a meeting on Monday. Parents and staff associated with the school had hoped that Hertfordshire County Council s Cabinet would review a decision to close the school made before Chri

ANY hopes that Heathcote School would be saved from closure were dashed at a meeting on Monday.

Parents and staff associated with the school had hoped that Hertfordshire County Council's Cabinet would review a decision to close the school made before Christmas because of what they saw as changes to the circumstances in which that decision to close the school were made.

However, councillors decided to go ahead with the closure of the school as part of the building Schools for the Future (BSF) project which will now happen on August 31 2012.

The school had been given new hope because as part of a public consultation held last year the council said it intended to move Thomas Alleyne School to the north of Stevenage, but if this was not possible then the school would close because the council did not want, and there was not enough room to keep and expand, the school on its current site.

The council gave similar reasons for Heathcote's closure, saying it was too close to Barnwell.

But because council officers went to Monday's meeting with a new proposal which was not on the original consultation document - to keep and expand Alleyne School on its current site - and was a recommendation which would have gone against the council's own proclamation that it could not have two large close together, questions were being asked as to why the council could not look at the Heathcote situation again.

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But Cabinet decided at the meeting to look again at Thomas Alleyne's proposed re-location and agreed the closure of Heathcote.

Heathcote School's chair of governors, Paul Mower, said the decision was "very disappointing".

"The BSF team have said from the start that there was no way to achieve BSF funding without the closure of Heathcote - a premise that I have never accepted.

"The problems that are now emerging with BSF should have been perfectly foreseeable and this reflects badly on the management of the project. The process of closing Heathcote should never have started until the project could be delivered with certainty.

"The BSF team should honour their public commitment to reconsult."

These comments were echoed by Peter Warren, the Stevenage branch secretary of the NASUWT, who said in a letter published in The Comet today that: "I am certainly not in the business of proposing that school's should close: my business is, in fact, quite the opposite but it is clear that the local authority has not got it right and that, if Thomas Alleyne School is to stay on its present site, then morally and correctly Heathcote School has to stay open for the arguments used to propose its closure no longer apply."

A council spokesman said that the executive member for education, Councillor Keith Emsall, had reported to the meeting that seven objections were received to the closure of the school but none brought to light any new information and therefore the closure of the school was agreed.

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