PROTESTING parents and pupils are to stage a demonstration tomorrow against Woodlands Academy school’s effective closure in merger plans with Tile Hill Wood academy.
The demonstration takes place at 3.30pm outside the school gates in Broad Lane, when students and families will be joined by teachers and union reps.
It comes as parents are demanding to know why the school’s governors reneged on previous proposals last year which would have kept both schools open amid falling demand, by creating a multi-academy trust (MAT).
They also say it appears the school’s governors were invited to leave last week.
As we reported last week, the proposal which would see boys from Woodlands move to the girls’ school in nearby Nutbrook Avenue has now been put to a six-week “consultation”, on what parents fear is a fait accompli.
Coventry City Council’s Labour leaders are also in the spotlight over a perceived lack of opposition to the government backed Finham II ‘free school’, when documents show they knew its creation at the former Land Registry building in Torrington Avenue, Till Hill, would harm intake at the two nearby schools.
Protesters say Coventry’s plans for a growing population – the city has already grown by around 10 per cent in a decade to nearly 340,000 – means there will be demand for more schools in future, not less.
Council leaders want to grow Coventry’s population to above 400,000 within 15 years – based on national forecasts – for the city to become a “top ten city”.
Council plans for 25,000 more homes within the city’s borders alone include hundreds of new homes close to the Tile Hill schools.
Jane Nellist, of Coventry National Union of Teachers, told the Observer: “Everybody knows we will need schools in future. Opening Finham II at the present time has contributed to destabilising schools.
“This is the effect of academisation and free schools. There isn’t the scrutiny that we got with maintained schools where a local authority holds the schools to account. The Department for Education doesn’t play that role.
“What we’re seeing in Woodlands is a car crash of government education policies.
“In a few years they’ll be panicking about building schools, as is happening in other areas.
“No matter how we dress it up, it’s a merger for children but for our members it’s effectively a closure.
“Government policy has created an anarchic system without local democratic accountability.
“Woodlands was built in 1954 as one of the country’s first comprehensives. Coventry was at the forefront of that comprehensive movement. The city was at the cutting edge.”
The schools say the proposals would see one ‘co-educational’ school on the Tile Hill Wood site, with pupils from Woodlands transferring there from September 2016.
Inspectors from watchdog Ofsted had visited the school last October, after it was found to “require improvement” last April, when the last headteacher and chair of governors left the academy.
An inspector’s report said the 2015 provisional GCSE results, with just 33% of students achieving five A* to C grades including English and mathematics, placed the academy below the government’s current floor standards.
But an Ofsted inspector in September stated the school was putting into place systems for improvement including external support under new leadership.