Broadlands and Wellsway merger now in doubt
By welland | Wednesday, July 07, 2010, 12:46
THE proposed merger of Keynsham's Broadlands and Wellsway schools is in doubt after the Government announced no money would be available for rebuilding.
Standing room only at one of the schools merger public consultation meetings.
Education Secretary Michael Gove has confirmed the end of the £55 billion Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme. It was in expectation of getting money from this fund that Bath and North East Somerset Council announced a review of secondary schools in the district in 2008.
One of the proposals was a single school for Keynsham on the Wellsway School site.
The suggestion was widely opposed in the town, with the majority of people who attended three consultation meetings against it.
B&NES Council is expected to announce the results of the consultation process next Monday.
The governors of Wellsway said they would support it only if it meant a new school costing £31million would be built.
The five Conservative and one Labour district councillors representing Keynsham were united in their opposition to the closure of Broadlands even before Mr Gove's announcement.
They will attend the public Cabinet meeting due to take place on July 21 to argue the case for the secondary school to remain open.
The rationale behind the option to close Broadlands was based on figures which show that only a quarter of the school's pupils come from Keynsham, with most travelling in from south Bristol. With several schools in south Bristol reopening with new facilities, council officers have warned that pupil numbers at Broadlands could decline. However, with Government spending being reined in, local councillors argue that Broadlands should be kept open.
Keynsham South councillor Alan Hale (Con) said: "Attending the public meetings held to discuss these plans, it has been very clear that local parents and residents firmly want to see Broadlands School kept open.
"At the Broadlands meeting, I believe that the people of Keynsham and many from Bristol whose children attend the school have spoken volumes and must be listened to.
"There was a massive groundswell of opinion gathered there to say that they did not want the school to be closed. It was heartening to see such passion for a school that this council should be proud of.
"The community of Keynsham must, when it comes to the education of their children, be given a choice and that choice should be preserved for the future generations of Keynsham."
Councillor Adrian Inker (Lab, Keynsham South), said: "I think that the withdrawal of the BSF money will have a devastating effect on schools in deprived areas. You cannot help but be amazed at the new buildings that have gone up in Bristol.
"The common issue in all these cases is that the schools were failing, this is not the case in Keynsham. I believe that council money could be better spent. Why spend limited resources on closing a successful school and risking the future of the young people using that school? I can find no hard evidence that bringing Broadlands and Wellsway together will deliver better outcomes for our young people So why take the risk."
Councillor Marie Longstaff (Con, Keynsham East) said: "After listening carefully to the arguments both for retaining Broadlands and for having just one school in Keynsham, I believe it is clear that keeping Broadlands open would be in the best interests of local children across Keynsham.
"Now that it appears increasingly clear there will not be Government money available for a rebuilt Wellsway School, I believe the two schools should remain. Along with my fellow Keynsham councillors, I will be attending the Cabinet meeting to argue this case."