More time to give views on controversial Spalding school

Dave Whitaker, of Wellspring Academy Trust, and John Hayes MP at Spalding High School where a public meeting was held about plans to open a school for challenging and vulnerable children at South Holland Post 16 Centre.  Photo by Tim Wilson.  SG071217-503TW.
Dave Whitaker, of Wellspring Academy Trust, and John Hayes MP at Spalding High School where a public meeting was held about plans to open a school for challenging and vulnerable children at South Holland Post 16 Centre. Photo by Tim Wilson. SG071217-503TW.
  • Trust eyeing up Post 16 Centre told to think again
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Educators behind plans to open a school in Spalding for challenging and vulnerable children have given people have more time to offer their views.

The team behind the proposed Springwell Academy Spalding, where children aged five to 16 and outside of mainstream education could be taught, wants to use South Holland Post 16 Centre for the new school.

As far as I’m concerned, this is the last thing we want as we have enough anti-social behaviour problems in Spalding as things stand now

Bert Collins, of Matmore Gate, Spalding

But Wellspring Academy Trust, which hopes to run the new school for nearly 65 children, was strongly criticised for not consulting with people living in Matmore Gate where the Post 16 Centre is based.

As a result, it has extended the deadline for comments on its plans by two weeks from this Friday to Sunday, December 31.

Angry residents made their views clear during a public meeting at Spalding High School last Thursday where concerns over increased traffic in Matmore Gate, the siting of a planned games area and security of the children were all raised.

Bert Collins, of Matmore Gate, said: “As far as I’m concerned, this is the last thing we want as we have enough anti-social behaviour problems in Spalding as things stand now.

“What you’re doing is pushing the problem of children who are out of normal schools on to the local community.

“We have anti-social behaviour and increased traffic, with both of these problems mounting, but you can’t give us any assurances that we’re not going to suffer more of it.”

Wellspring wants to use the Post 16 Centre to teach children with social, emotional and mental health problems who currently have journeys of up to two miles to school.

But resident Mark Le Sage said: “Why did we only learn about this plan in the local paper when, as part of the process, you would expect to be contacted during the consultation period?”

Wellspring’s Josh Greaves, said: “We missed a beat in not delivering leaflets through letterboxes in the area.”

During the meeting, trust officials also explained that classes of between six to eight children would be supervised by a teacher and teaching assistant, with “flexible” breaks and lunchtimes also part of the plan.

But South Holland and the Deepings MP John Hayes, who was at the meeting, said: “There’s clearly a fundamental problem in that you would expect the immediate locality to be aware of what has been proposed and there to be feedback from the people who live in the immediate area.

“That clearly didn’t happen and however suitable the building might be, I wouldn’t put the academy in a highly residential area where there’s already a lot of traffic.”

Leaders from Wellspring Academy Trust admitted to having “missed a beat” on not advising people fully on their plans to open Springwell Academy Spalding.

The trust invited people living near South Holland Post 16 Centre, where the academy would be based, to a consultation event in Sleaford five weeks ago.

Dave Whitaker, an executive principal with the trust, said: “At the moment, there are around 250 to 270 children in Lincolnshire who have been excluded from mainstream education and they need schools to go to.

“But these children are currently in really poor accommodation and some of them spend up to two hours travelling to school.

“As an organisation, I feel we need to be judged by how we look after our most vulnerable children.”

You can comment on Springwell Academy Spalding until New Year’s Eve by emailing info@wellspringacademies.org.uk or write to Wellspring Academy Trust, Digital Media Centre, County Way, Barnsley, S70 2JW.

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