Send us your pictures, video, news and views by texting NORTHERN ECHO to 80360 or email us
Legal challenge could be made over school closure consultation
4:46pm Friday 4th October 2013 in News
CAMPAIGNERS against a proposed secondary school closure could mount a legal challenge to the move.
Durham County Council is consulting on shutting Roseberry College and Sixth Form, at Newfield, near Chester-le-Street, claiming it is at about a third of its capacity.
But parents and governors fear children’s education will suffer and the community will lose a vital facility. The governors are unanimously against the proposal.
They will look at alternatives including federating with other schools or setting up a free school or an academy.
North Durham MP Kevan Jones is backing them and says one option could be to seek a judicial review.
He has written to the council, calling for it to stop the consultation, and has branded the whole process as “flawed’’.
In a letter to Councillor Ossie Johnson, the council’s Portfolio Holder for Children and Young People’s Services, he says: “The governing body is understandably very angry, as am I, that this has been sprung on the local community, and is rightly looking at alternatives, including the possibility of a judicial review of the process, and also the potential for turning Roseberry into a free school.
“I feel that the way this decision is being taken is appalling, and would urgently ask that you halt the consultation process.”
The governors said in a statement that at a meeting with officials they “made it clear” that they thought the consultation was flawed and was based on inaccurate information. “Governors unanimously agreed, and proposed to local authority officers representing Durham County Council that the consultation should be stopped immediately.”
Caroline O’Neill, Durham County Council’s head of education, said no final decision had been made and campaigners ’ concerns would be considered.
She said: “We strongly refute claims that this consultation is based on inaccurate information and stand by our reasons for examining the viability of the school’s future.
“Despite capacity for approximately 1,000 pupils, the school currently has just over 300 pupils on roll and, with a significantly falling roll, the school’s sustainability has to be questioned.
“The financial pressures the school is under also mean it will be highly challenging for the school to set a balanced budget and provide a broad and balanced secondary curriculum in future.
“In addition, the council is concerned about the quality of education because GCSE standards remain significantly below the national average.”
Comments are closed on this article.