Thursday, 14 December 2017

Campaigners to keep supporting school in revival

CAMPAIGNERS who fought to keep Chiltern Edge School open say they will continue to support it.

Oxfordshire County Council has given the Sonning Common secondary until November to show improvements after it was put into special measures due to an “inadequate” rating by the education watchdog in April.

It had previously threatened to close the school, which prompted the launch of the Save Our Edge campaign by former pupils Gemma Levy and Charlie Holloway.

The campaigners held demonstrations and a petition against the closure was signed by more than 3,300 people.

Miss Levy, from Caversham, said: “We are really pleased with the support we have been able to give the school from parents, residents and pupils both past and present.

“I didn’t think the campaign would do this much when we first started — it has been amazing. It’s also a relief to know my children will have somewhere to go to school.” The school has appointed a new headteacher, Moira Green, and looks set to become an academy with the Maiden Erlegh Trust already in negotiations to become a sponsor.

Mrs Green has promised to address weaknesses identified in the Ofsted report, including poor progress in the core subjects, lack of support for disadvantaged pupils and poor senior leadership.

She has already changed the school uniform, introducing blazers, shirts and ties from September and introduced Saturday school for year 11 pupils.

She has also created a balanced budget for 2017/18 whereas the school previously had debts of about £500,000.

Miss Levy said the campaign group could now become the Friends of Chiltern Edge as it has 2,000 supporters. She said: “We don’t want the group to disappear because we have so many supporters. During the summer holidays we are going to get together to see how we can help.

“We are going to go into the school to help move some classrooms around, do some painting and help with display boards.

“We are also going to meet Moira Green in September to ask her what she wants us to do to help.”

Meanwhile, Reading East Labour MP Matt Rodda has criticised the county council’s decision to hold a consultation on closure of the school.

Mr Rodda, who was elected in June, said: “Their proposal was both irresponsible and misguided and I cannot really understand why any local authority in an area like the South of England, which has rising school rolls, would want to consider a school closure.

“The only plausible explanation was that selling off the land was a way of dealing with short-term financial pressures caused by austerity affecting the council.”

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