Aveland High School to close if Sleaford Academy scheme goes ahead

SUPPORTERS of plans for a multi-million pound Academy in Sleaford say it will improve opportunities in education for children and young people in the area.

However, the scheme, if given final approval, would see the closure of the Aveland High School site in Billingborough.

Lincolnshire County Council has approved a decision to publish a statutory notice which effectively proposes the closure of St George's College of Technology in Sleaford, Coteland's School in Ruskington and the Aveland High School to allow for the creation of a single Academy on the Sleaford and Ruskington sites.

The statutory notice marks the start of a six-week representation period during which people can express their views on the proposals prior to a final decision being taken by the county council in December.

The Academy will receive up to 20 million funding to refurbish and improve the Ruskington and Sleaford sites.

Feasibility studies undertaken during consultation indicated that the Aveland site is unsustainable and the Department of Children, Schools and Families has said it would not support the Academy proposals with funding over three sites.

Trevor Hudson, chairman of governors at Aveland High School, said: "The DCSF has said that a three-school Academy cannot be part of the process and the phased closure of the Aveland site is necessary or the Academy proposal cannot go ahead.

"The idea of an all-through primary school did not get local support. If the proposal goes ahead then our priority is the well-being of the students, their continued success and a smooth transition to the proposed arrangements.

"We are behind the proposals to form an Academy between the three schools and bring significant investment to Sleaford for the benefit of young people in the area. A letter has gone out to parents about where we are in the process and we will make sure they are kept up to date with further details on any proposals - we have the interests of the children and their education at the heart of this."

County councillor for the Billingborough area Martin Hill added: "Whilst supportive of the Sleaford Academy project, as the local councillor for the area for 16 years I am very sorry and disappointed to see that the Aveland may have to close, due to rapidly falling pupil numbers, in 2011.

"The county council, governors and St George's College of Technology have been working for some years to safeguard the school's future and it is sad that this has been unsuccessful. If it's inevitable and the proposals go ahead following the representation period we will support parents and pupils to ensure a smooth transition period."

*What do you think of the Academy proposals? Write with your views to Editor, Sleaford Standard, 28 Handley Street, Sleaford NG34 7TQ, or email john.lavery@jpress.co.uk