PUPILS PROTEST AT GCSE SWITCH

CHANTS of “save our school” filled a playground in Crowland yesterday as pupils reacted angrily to a change in plans about where they will sit their GCSE exams next year.

About 80 pupils at the University Academy Holbeach campus armed themselves with placards and refused to leave the playground after being told they won’t be able to remain at the school next year.

Originally, the year ten pupils already studying for their GCSEs at the Crowland site were told they would not have to move over to Holbeach, however, a growing number of staff vacancies mean the school has been forced to reconsider the plans.

The former St Guthlac School site is expected to close completely by 2014, with all academy pupils being taught at a redeveloped Holbeach site.

Parent Sarah Flowers claimed the decision was “ludicrous” when the pupils are half way through their GCSE studies. “They promised that if the children stayed they would have their education for their GCSEs at the site,” she said. “Now they’re doing exactly what they said they wouldn’t.”

Her daughter Alice (14) was among the protesters. She said: “I think most are worried about being interrupted for our exams.

“We really like being here and do not want to move. We will be half-way though our GCSEs and we don’t get on with the other school. It’s just going to be a really bad thing.”

Executive headteacher Steve Baragwanath said he had a meeting with teaching staff on Monday and a letter was sent home to parents on Tuesday. He confirmed up to ten redundancies will need to be made among the staff as part of the changes.

He said: “All school closures are difficult because it involves people’s jobs and change, and change is uncomfortable. We are trying to make sure we manage that process so that we keep the children’s interests at the centre of what we are trying to do in terms of maintaining standards.”

Mr Baragwanath said staff vacancies in Crowland are already being filled by teachers coming over from Holbeach but he acknowledged it’s “not something the school can continue forever”.

He said a number of parents had contacted the school in support of the changes. He added: “The pupils have a right to protest so we are letting them have their say and letting them calm down.”

A meeting is being held with parents over the plans at the school on Wednesday.