The Wellsway Multi-Academy Trust has today announced “with much sadness” that, following its request, the Secretary of State for Education has granted a ‘decision in principle’ to close The Bath Studio School by mutual consent.
There will now be a five-week “listening period” during which individuals and organisations can put forward their views on the proposed closure to the Regional Schools Commissioner at RSC.SW@education.gov.uk.
In a statement the trust, which also runs schools including Wellsway and IKB in Keynsham, SBL at Oldland Common, the Aspire Academy in Bath as well as several primary schools, said The Bath Studio School (TBSS) opened in September 2014 and has, despite considerable effort, struggled to recruit students.
Although the school’s capacity is for 300 students, aged from 14-19, it currently educates just 126 students and has never recruited more than 140 students in any one of its five academic years of existence.
“This lack of demand has led to the situation where the school is not financially viable, or educationally sustainable, going forward. The Trust has reviewed several options to keep TBSS open but none are likely to be achievable within the local educational landscape and, reluctantly, WMAT has therefore made the request for closure.
“If the request is given formal approval, TBSS will close at the end of the school year 2019/20 – with no further students being admitted to the school from September 2019. This will enable all current students to complete the courses and qualifications they have enrolled on. During this period WMAT will work individually with students to support their on-going education and transition and will also be available to talk to their parents/carers. WMAT will also provide advisory support for TBSS staff, and will look to identify other opportunities for them within other WMAT academies.”
Aspire Academy, which shares a site with TBSS, will remain within the Trust and plans are already under way to expand the school to provide more places for children with social, emotional and mental health needs.
Alongside this expansion, WMAT says it is planning to work with the local authority to further develop special school provision on the site to meet the growing need for more special school places in Bath & North East Somerset.
Cllr Joe Rayment, Deputy Leader of Bath & North East Somerset Labour Group, said he has written to the Education Secretary Damian Hinds, urging him not to close the school as “significant numbers” of pupils there transferred from Bath Community Academy when it closed very recently.
“Children, parents and the community have been let down once already. This cannot be allowed to happen again.”