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By Ian Dipple Wednesday 02 July 2014 Updated: 02/07 16:36
GOVERNORS at Tudor Grange Academy Redditch have delayed a decision on whether or not to proceed with their bid to expand the school's admission age.
A meeting was held on Tuesday (July 1) to discuss progressing the Woodrow Drive school's proposal to take children from the age of 11 to the next level by applying for permission from the Education Funding Agency.
The move has met with a storm of protest from parents and politicians who fear it will destabilise the town's middle schools and lead to the creation of a two tier education system by stealth.
But in a short statement headteacher Stephen Brownlow confirmed governors had not made a decision and were continuing to read and discuss the consultation feedback received.
"They will make a decision in due course and will of course keep the local community fully informed."
The news comes as Redditch MP Karen Lumley claimed the proposal was already dead.
A letter from Schools Minister David Laws said the proposed date for the admission change could not happen in September 2015 because the Department of Education had to be informed of admission arrangements for the next school year by April this year.
He also pointed out any reduction in pupil numbers could result in objections to the Schools Adjudicator from anyone in the community including the local authority. It is understood Worcestershire County Council has raised concerns about the move leading to a shortage of secondary school places.
Mr Laws added any academy school wanting to change its age range would need changes to its funding agreement with the EFA which would have to be satisfied adequate local consultation had taken place, responses had been taken into account, the financial case was sound and planning permission, if necessary, had been secured.
Mrs Lumley said: "I have said from the start that these proposals were not right for our town at this time. I’m glad I can now say to Redditch parents with certainty a change will not be happening."
But Rebecca Blake, Labour's Parliamentary candidate for Redditch, said while she welcomed the pause in the process it was too early to hail the campaign as a success and called again for TGAR to work with parents and the county council to work together to come up with a plan and a timeline the majority of the town could get behind.
"The genie is out of the bottle with three other schools consulting on a change of age range and the absence of co-ordination will be to the detriment of our children's education. Having no plan for the future of education in Redditch is as good as planning for failure."
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