“YOU cannot put into context what Woodlands Academy means to people.”
Those are the words of one protester who took to the pavement outside Woodlands Academy on Broad Lane today (Wednesday) to protest the proposed closure of the school.
As the Observer reported last week, all-boys school Woodlands Academy is set to close and merge with nearby Tile Hill Wood School for girls.
Anxious parents, pupils and staff were confirmed the news after rumours of the merger had circulated online.
Karl Johns – a former Woodlands pupil and now father to a student – said managment had misunderstood how passionate people were about the school.
Mr Jones told the Observer: “We need to understand how a school of more than 600 boys got into the position that closure is the only option.
“The way the situation has been handled is disgraceful.
“How can it be that a school of Woodlands’ size and stature can just be closed like this.”
Current pupils at the school also took to the picket line brandishing cards reading ‘Save our School’.
Their actions follow last week’s unofficial protest where students skipped lessons to protest the school’s closure.
Year 10 pupil Charlie Illsley said he and his fellow students had chosen the school specifically for its single-sex education and that he did not want to merge with the Tile Hill Wood girl’s school.
Charlie also said he was concerned his GCSE exam results could be affected by the school’s closure – with the two schools following different curriculums.
“We’re not just protesting for ourselves, even though we are worried,” Charlie added.
“We are protesting for future students and to make sure the history of the school is not lost.
Built in the 1950s, Woodlands Academy was one of the first comprehenive schools in the country – earning itself a reputation as an excellent school for sport.
Avid rugby player Nathanael Harding said the merger would affect boys who were heavily involved in sport, arguing Tile Hill Wood did not have adequate sporting facilities.
The year 10 student said: “The sporting tradition of the school could be lost with our rugby coaches looking like they could be sacked.”
Vicky Clayton, mother of a year 8 pupil, was also protesting today. She voiced concerns about the level of secrecy surrounding the way the closure of Woodlands Academy was being handled by managment figures.
Ms Clayton also pointed fingers at Coventry City Council as owners of the Woodlands Academy land – arguing they could be set to benefit from the closure of the school and the sale of the land to developers.
The Observer understand the Woodlands Academy board of governors was dissolved last week.
Richard Harty, UNISON’s Coventry branch representative, said the union had sent a letter to Education Secretary Nicky Morgan today urging the Department of Education to step in to resolve the issue.
He said: “How is it that Department of Education can grant permission for another secondary school – Finham Park 2 – to open later this year when there are already surplus places at three secondary schools in the area?
“The situation is fluid and potential dangerous for pupils – particularly those taking their exams.
“This is the first academy school in the country we are aware of that is going to be closed.
“What have we go to where we see schools as a business model – a commodity that can be traded?”