Friday, 22 September 2017

I'm sad and angry, says former head

I'm sad and angry, says former head

ON hearing of the possible closure of Chiltern Edge School, my initial feelings were shock, sadness and anger, writes Vera Morris, a former headteacher.

It is 22 years since I retired as headteacher, so I can no longer speak with authority on secondary education or challenge the report which has brought about this situation.

However, I would like to know, as I’m sure parents and members of the local community would, the answers to the following questions:

• How can a school, which received a good report in 2012, get such a poor report in 2017?

• How can a brief, two-day inspection condemn a school to possible closure?

• What has the Oxfordshire Education Authority been doing, or not doing, to allow the situation to get to this point?

• Could the fact that the school sits on a site worth millions be an important factor in this decision? I hope not. Children come first.

Why the school should remain open: The children who attend Chiltern Edge are the first priority; their lives have been turned upside-down. A swift decision to keep the school running is needed. The parents and families of those children will be equally affected.

The teaching and ancillary staff, who are dedicated to giving the children a good education, will be devastated and, I hope, angry!

Sonning Common and the surrounding area is a vibrant, expanding community. It needs and deserves a good local secondary school to match its excellent primary schools.

Chiltern Edge is unique. Its ethos has always been the education of the whole person. The atmosphere is warm, vibrant and caring.

There are many other reasons for keeping the school open: Bishopswood School; the impact on the environment of more bussing; lack of opportunity for extra-curricular activities; ability for children to see friends. The list is endless.

There should be a quick resolution to this matter. The review must be swift and a quick decision taken. The children, their parents and the staff of the school must not be left in limbo for months.

Can there be any other decision than to keep the school open and to give it the support it needs and deserves?

Already children, parents, staff and members of the community are showing they want the school to remain open.

I always believe something positive can come from something negative. This is the opportunity for parents, teachers and the education authority to work together to give the children a school and an education they deserve.

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