Cheltenham & Tewkesbury Consultations
The County Council finally launched the second phase of consultations for the Cheltenham and Tewkesbury Areas in early November 2003. As usual this was not without controversy and has kicked off with there once again being absolutely no belief on the behalf of parents that this exercise is anything, but a sham.
In Tewkesbury, true to form, the County Council Cabinet overturned the decision of the Committee they themselves had appointed to put the closure of Alderman Knight School back on the agenda alongside the proposal submitted by the Governors of Alderman Knight and Tewkesbury Schools to keep Alderman Knight as it is, but extend the outreach support it is already providing to Primary Schools in the area.
At a heated meeting at Alderman Knight School, none of the Cabinet Members choose to attend and left the officers to take the flack. One has to wonder how Dr Huggett still has the gall to stand up in front of parents and attempt to defend what he has done and is still trying to promote. In a very telling contribution, two parents described how they had been full converts to the inclusion ideal and had spent years working with council officers to trying to make it work. After seven years they had been forced to give up Now after their child had been at Alderman Knight for just a short time they felt guilty that they had wasted seven years of their child’s education. They were even more annoyed that they had been peddled a fantasy and that now that their child was final starting to grow in confidence and start achieving, that the same people were threatening to take this lifeline away.
If the council thought that getting more involvement from the mainstream sector might win them even a small degree of support, they were sadly disappointed. After a stormy meeting in Chipping Camden, they received a quite unprecedented battering at Tewkesbury School. What was unusual was taht the attack was not lead by parents, but by Aydin Onac the Head Teacher of Tewkesbury School. He said, "Closing Alderman Knight will not improve provision. It will reduce it. I'm sorry, my school can't guarantee the same provision to your children that Alderman Knight can."
He went on to state, that pupils with moderate learning difficulties at Alderman Knight had achieved better exam results last year than some of the lower achievers at Tewkesbury School. He said he felt the consultation was "a nonsense" and he could not understand why it was still an option to close Alderman Knight.
The situation in Cheltenham is quite grim. Where parents are faced with 3 options which could result in the closure of two special schools. One of these the Battledown Children’s Centre is a special unit for children in the age range 2 to 7 making a mockery of the LEAs claim to be supporting early intervention.
Initially, there were about 7 options put forward only one of which, the status quo, received support from parents of pupils in Special Schools and also 35% support of all people who returned questionaires. Despite this this is not amongst the final 3 options and in a cynical move designed to divide parents they are now being asked to choose between options that would mean the closure of either or both of ther Special Schools.
Regretably these consultations are now being overshaddowed by the councils recently published review of secondary education. Once again the council has shown great enthusiasm for attacking quality education provision without showing any evidence for improvement in their proposals. They have now succeeded in outraging all parents and not thus those with children with learning difficulties.
Belmont School topped the Value Added tables for Gloucestershire at KS2 - KS3. Alderman Knight School topped the tables at KS3 - GCSE.