This is a continuation of an earlier item, St Guthlacs and George Farmer Merger Proposal
Lincolnshire County Council have confirmed that despite strong opposition they intend to proceed with the merger of St Guthlacs and George Farmer Schools into an academy based in Holbeach, necessitating a long journey for pupils from Crowland. This interview with Jim Astill of the Save St Guthlacs School Campaign was broadcast at 08:40 on Friday July 2nd 2010 in the Peterborough Breakfast Show hosted by Paul Stainton on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire.
PAUL: Now reports that a secondary school in Crowland could be saved from a merger with another school seem to be unfounded. Lincolnshire County councillors confirmed they are going ahead with plans to merge St Guthlacs School in Crowland with the George Farmer Tech College to form an academy in Holbeach. The Council had been waiting for an announcement from the new government but it didn’t come and they say they’re proceeding with the project. Jim Astill runs the Save St Guthlacs campaign. Morning Jim.
JIM: Morning Paul.
PAUL: Now we’ve been here before. We’ve talked about it before. Just remind people what you’re up against here.
JIM: At the moment, as you say, the local authority and the schools have decided to merge George Farmer and St Guthlacs into an academy. The Crowland school at the moment is scheduled for closure around two thousand and fourteen, and to allow the Holbeach site to be redeveloped.
PAUL: Yes. And this has big knock-on effect doesn’t it, for people that go to St Guthlacs in Crowland which has been there many many years ..
JIM: It has been there for a long time. And actually even as recently as Tuesday night of this week where parents like myself whose eldest daughter is starting there in September of this year, we were sold the concept of a small improving local school. And actually, based on information that the Head Teacher gave out at that meeting, if you look at the value added statistics, we came second in South Holland only to George Farmer, and we came second against Peterborough schools only to Deacons. So this is a school that the results would show .. staistics would show .. is an improving school.
PAUL: Yes. How does this statement make you feel? Because you must have been quite hopeful when the Government came in and said they were going to do away with all this.
JIM: Well yes. The statement in the Budget said that .. I think the revenue side of budgets would be cut by twenty five per cent over four years. They were a bit more cagey about the capital spend. But actually last week on the Twenty-Fifth there was an announcement or an informal statement by the Council that finished off saying that until we have some guidelines on their plans for the programme we’ve delayed any consultations. When I asked Councillor Bradwell last Friday about that she didn’t know about it. Somebody else in the Press Office confirmed that statement. Then I had an email from Andy Breckon who’s the Assistant Director, who said .. that finished off: as far as Lincolnshire County Council is concerned the work is going ahead. So they seem to be in a bit of a muddle with their press statements, left hand right hand sort of thing you know.
PAUL: Yes. How many people now are up in arms. You’ve got quite a strength of feeling going here, haven’t you, quite a lot of members of this campaign?
JIM: Yes. On the Facebook group there’s four hundred and twenty five. And the petition as of last Friday was eleven forty nine. So there is some strong feeling. Even after the parents meeting on Tuesday of this week I was asked by a few people there how it was going, and we are positive. We are pursuing a couple of angles. We’re asking the Council why they feel the School’s not sustainable. And as I said earlier when you compare it against the value added of schools that the Schools are using … the School’s using to promote themselves, the results have improved since two thousand and six. The value added says it’s second in South Holland and second against Peterborough schools. So it shows that it’s a good school.
PAUL: Well Jim we wish you all the best with your campaign. And if you do live in and around Crowland, or your kids go to St Guthlacs, and you’ve got something to say on that, we’d appreciate your comments.