Posted: Thu 3rd Nov 2016

Education Secretary challenged over the closure of John Summers High School

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Thursday, Nov 3rd, 2016

North Wales Assembly Member Mark Isherwood has challenged the Education Secretary in the Assembly Chamber this week over the closure of John Summers High School.

In August, the Education Secretary, Kirsty Williams AM, approved plans to remove sixth form provision at John Summers High School in Queensferry, Flintshire, from August 31st and 11-16 provision from 31 August 2017.

Mr Isherwood challenged her over her decision in the Assembly Chamber this week when asking what provision has been made for Additional Learning Needs in the Welsh Government’s School Organisation Code.

Mark Isherwood AM, he said:

“As you said, the Code specifies the need to pay particular attention to the impact of the proposals for school closures on vulnerable groups, including children with special educational needs.

Despite that, you recently decided to support the decision by Flintshire to close John Summers High School, which caters for some of the most vulnerable pupils in the area, taking pupils from pupil referral units and children excluded from other high schools that wouldn’t be sent to bigger schools.

Half of the pupils are living in an area that is amongst the top 5 per cent of the Index of Multiple of Deprivation in Wales, and almost a third fall within the School Action, School Action Plus and Statemented Additional Learning Needs Categories, something which the Council’s consultation document failed to acknowledge.

Given that under normal pupil criteria, the Welsh Government has set a minimum figure, I understand, of 600 for school numbers, why isn’t the Welsh Government applying greater flexibility under its existing legislation and code, where particular needs arise, to enable smaller schools to meet those needs in the unique way that only they can?”

The Education Secretary replied:

“The closure of John Summers school is not an easy one and not one I took lightly, but took on the advice provided about how best we could improve educational outcomes for all children in that particular area.

You will know that, in my progressive agreement with the First Minister, there is specific mention about the need to review the schools organisation code, especially with regard to smaller schools.

I will be making further announcements on my consultation on the schools organisation code and how it could be reformed and strengthened, if necessary, later on this month.”

Mr Isherwood added: “We must seriously question the advice she received, and the degree to which this reflected the serious and substantive issues raised with the Welsh Government by both the school governors and myself, acting on behalf of local campaigners.”

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