Town reacts angrily to school closure decision

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ANGRY parents and campaigners accused county bosses of completely ignoring them after the decision was taken to shut Crowland’s secondary school.

ANGRY parents and campaigners accused county bosses of completely ignoring them after the decision was taken to shut Crowland’s secondary school.

The St Guthlac School and Holbeach’s George Farmer Technology College will both shut and reopen as a new academy in Holbeach in a move sponsored by the University of Lincoln.

The decision was taken on Tuesday and sparked a strong reaction in Crowland, where people fear their opposition to the closure was just dismissed.

Coun Bryan Alcock said: “I am absolutely devastated both for the children and for the people of Crowland. I think everybody feels that the process was a farce – the word consultation should be taken out of the dictionary.

“The Big Society and localism is a total joke – we were totally ignored.”

Campaigners say students will be forced to travel to Holbeach, that many people will choose not to live in Crowland without the school and that community groups could lose out as they use the St Guthlac building.

They say that the school’s exam results were improving and that, with better marketing, it could have reversed its falling pupil numbers, but feel the council’s closure decision was a “done deal” all along and the school was not given a chance.

The schools will close on August 31 and reopen immediately as the ‘University Academy Holbeach’ across the two sites, with the St Guthlac building expected to shut by 2014.

Campaigner Jim Astill, a St Guthlac School governor, also felt that the decision will have a knock-on effect for the town and has been handled terribly.

He said: “Personally I don’t think the true effects of this decision will be realised until long after St Guthlac has closed.

“I think that all involved with pushing these proposals through should take a long look at themselves at how the situation was handled from the outset – it has been a bit of a PR disaster.”

Residents will now turn their attention to trying to set up a “free school” to keep secondary education in the town.

That plan is backed by mum Lianne Johnson, whose eight-year-old son Kieran is in the first year group not able to attend St Guthlac.

She said: “He will be devastated when I tell him. He already said he didn’t even want to do the 11+, he wanted to go where his dad went.

“People don’t want their children to go to Holbeach, it’s ridiculous – they are bad roads from Crowland to there, especially in the winter.”

She said her son will not go to Holbeach.