GMB Calls For Lobby Of Central Bedfordshire Council Meeting On 7th May Over Proposed Closure Of 3 Dunstable Schools
Local postal referendums of all parents/stakeholders should be held on these possible closure decisions as the meetings so far would suggest strong parent, staff and community support to keep these schools open says GMB.
GMB, the union for school support staff, is calling on parents, teachers, staff and the general public to lobby a Central Bedfordshire Council meeting to decide on the closure of three Dunstable Schools on the 7th of May at the Grove Theatre at 7:00pm.
This is part of a broad based campaign to oppose the proposed closure of
three schools by Central Bedfordshire Council.
On 24th February Central Bedfordshire Council launched separate formal consultations on the proposed closure of Brewers Hill Middle School, Aldbanks, Dunstable, Ashton Church of England, Voluntary Aided Middle School, High Street North, Dunstable, and Streetfield Middle School, Dunstable Road, Caddington.
The Council told parents in formal consultation documents that Central Bedfordshire Council is proposing to close the three schools because the current and projected pupil numbers make the schools “financially unviable”.
GMB officials attended all 3 parent evenings on 3rd, 4th and 5th March where the Central Bedfordshire Council officers presented the councils case for closure.
Warren Kenny, GMB Senior Organiser, said “Central Bedfordshire Council is holding
its decision meeting on the closure of three Dunstable Schools on the 7th of May.
This is a key opportunity to show the Central Bedfordshire Councillors and Officers how everyone affected feels about the educational chaos they are inflicting on the town. It is important that we have a strong presence to show them how we feel.
The consultation only started on Feb 24th so there are a lot of unanswered questions and the decision to close these schools should not be rushed.
The council claim there are falling pupil numbers this year and they have "assumed" further reductions next year and every year thereafter making these three schools financially unviable.
This problem seems to have been generated by the council's decision to convert the schools structure from three tier to two tier (Lower, Middle and Upper to Primary and Secondary).
Central Beds council has been trying to scrap the 3 tier system for years and this has always been fiercely opposed by the local community. It is unclear how or when the council have arrived at a position which appears to suggest that local parents would suddenly agree to close their local schools.
It is more likely that the threat of possible closure has created a situation where local parents have had to look to secure places at neighbouring schools in fear of the threatened closures.
GMB call on Central Beds council to agree to run a mutually agreed independent postal referendum of all parents/stakeholders on these decisions as the meetings GMB have attended so far would suggest strong community support to keep them open.
GMB will seek to secure a local referendum requirement that this land is preserved for educational purposes only.
GMB is seeking information on pupil admissions for all Dunstable schools to see how these reflect and if any are over their capacity and if so why.
GMB is asking what other planning developments in Dunstable do the council have in hand as it is difficult to understand how the council is promoting the expansion of the town (including the recently opened guided busway) yet seem to also state a decline in pupil numbers as their main reason for proposed closure.
Do the council have any plans for building more housing in the future and if so, has this been factored into their considerations?
GMB also plan to find out whether there are any plans/discussions to sell the land off to developers if the schools were sadly forced to shut.”
Contact: Warren Kenny, GMB Senior Organiser on 07843 632394 or GMB Beds County Branch Secretary, Martin Foster on 07960 957839 or Steve Sweeney GMB Organiser on 07703 469403 or GMB Press Office on 07974 251823 or 07921 289880.