Troubled Grange School at Warmley recommended for closure

grange signThe troubled Grange School & Sports College in Warmley looks likely to close in two years, putting 100 staff out of work.

The run-down school is first choice for fewer than 10 pupils moving up to senior school in September.

But a new Government-funded Studio School – catering for 14- to 19-year-olds and combining academic studies and work-based training, could be built on the site.

The Grange was put into special measures after a damning report by Ofsted last spring and the Cabot Learning Federation (which runs the nearby King’s Oak Academy and John Cabot Academy in Kingswood) was sent in run it on an interim basis while talks were held with the Department for Education about it becoming an academy.

But the DfE have indicated that in view of the capital and revenue issues – The Grange is in a poor condition and needs almost £10.5million spent on it – they would not be in a position to recommend an academy solution to ministers as the evidence suggests the school is not sustainable and should close.

The uncertainty has taken its toll on would-be students. Even before Ofsted ruled that the school was not offering an acceptable standard of education, it was suffering significant falling rolls and following the closure of the 2014 admissions round, the number of parents expressing a preference for a place at The Grange for this coming September is very low, with fewer than 10 putting it as their first choice.

A report to South Gloucestershire Council’s Children & Young People Committee next Wednesday (22nd January) says that closing the school in 2016 is now deemed to be the only “viable option” as it allows for the majority of the students currently on roll to complete their studies there.

The recommendation is that the authority consults parents on the proposed closure of the school to new admissions on 31st August, 2015 and the closure of the school to all pupils on 31st  August, 2016.

The report says there are approximately 100 employees at the school in full or part -time teaching and support staff positions at present: “In the event of the school’s closure it is expected that there will be a substantial number of staff redundancies.”

Also recommended is that a bid is made to the Department for Education to open a Studio School on the site and that consideration is given to relocating South Gloucestershire’s Education Other Than At School (EOTAS) service, as well as expanding Warmley Park Special School, which shares the campus.

If the Department for Education approves a Studio School, it would provide the capital funding. It would be the council’s intention to offer places in the initial years to current Grange students. This would mean that current Year 7 and 8 students would be able to complete their education at the site.

Nigel Minns, head of education, has told parents he will arrange a meeting with them as soon as possible after the meeting next week which will starts  at 2pm at Kingswood Civic Centre.