‘Closure would decimate us’

Bispham High School and (below) Collegiate High School.
Bispham High School and (below) Collegiate High School.
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A NEW academy, which looks set to be created if two schools merge, should be created in Bispham, it was claimed today.

Councillors Christine Wright and Chris Ryan, ward councillors for the Greenlands area of Bispham, are calling for the proposed 900-place academy to be created on the site of the current Bispham High School.

Collegiate High School

Collegiate High School

Plans to merge the school with Collegaite High School were announced earlier this month.

The Greenlands ward councillors, who are also members of the school’s governing body, say they would like to see the academy in Bispham, rather than at Collegiate’s Blackpool Old Road site.

Coun Wright said: “The school is part of the community. It would decimate the area if it was to go, it will affect the businesses. The amount of children and teachers do add to the economy.

“It just seems a more logical thing that the school has a more central location.

“We’re not against the merger, it’s for the good of the children. There’s more to it than just, oh we’ll move the pupils.

“We’re not trying to stop progress but we don’t believe the Department for Education (DfE) has really considered the impact of moving the school whereas if Collegiate was to move there is still the Sixth Form College and Highfurlong School there.”

Coun Ryan said he thought the proposals for the academy to go on the Collegiate site had been put out too soon.

He said: “I think a lot of what’s been put forward is being put forward before proper consultation and people haven’t had their say on where they would like it.”

Sarah Riding, Blackpool Council’s cabinet member for education, said while she understood the councillors’ wishes, the decision was out of the council’s hands.

She said: “I think it is a blow for Bispham, it is a shame but it is out of our hands. What we have to remember is we are in a consultation process and all views will be taken into account.”

Coun Riding explained the money, in the region of £11m to £13m, being offered to create the academy is for the Collegiate site. She added: “The most important thing is what’s right for the children and young people of Blackpool.

“Where that may be may be decided by the Government.

“Ultimately when you’re looking at where they go you want them to go where they get the best education.

“At the moment that’s at Collegiate because that’s where the money is for the new building.”

Coun Ryan said he hoped the DfE would be willing to listen to their proposal though. He added: “The DfE has already listened to Sue Harrison, Blackpool Council’s director of children’s services, and reacted to information she was giving them [on the consultation period].

“I’m hoping we’ll be able to have a similar discussion with them and if we’re lucky they will reconsider the site.”

A Department for Education spokesman said: “Sponsored academies are the best way to transform failing schools into places where more and more pupils succeed. The strong external challenge and leadership provided by academy sponsors has a proven track record in turning around poor performance and giving children the first-class education they deserve.

“Blackpool Council is responsible for developing proposals for the location of this new merged school.”

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