Green light for school merger has 'ripped guts out of a community'
CONTROVERSIAL plans to merge two secondary schools have been given the go-ahead by the Government.
Ormiston Ilkeston Academy in King George Avenue – which was placed in special measures last month – and Ormiston Enterprise Academy in Cotmanhay will become one school from September despite extensive opposition.
The decision has been labelled a "black day for Cotmanhay".
Pupils will be based at both sites until September 2014, after which they will all be on the existing Ormiston Ilkeston Academy campus.
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The merger proposals were announced by sponsor Ormiston Academies Trust last year to counter falling rolls at both schools.
But concerns were raised by parents about losing a school in the Cotmanhay area and the distance pupils would have to travel.
The Government has said £7.4 million given to boost facilities in the area will be retained.
An Ormiston Trust spokesman said: "We had to take decisive and clear action because of the challenge with regards to student numbers and the academies' survival would have been at serious risk if action was not taken."
The schools have also had to cope with the resignation of executive principal Eddie de Middelaer, who left at the end of December.
They are being run now by interim principal David Smith and associate principal Tracey Dundas.
New admission arrangements for the merged academy mean students currently in the catchment area of either school will be offered priority admission.
A series of monthly meetings for students, parents and staff is being arranged.
But Helen Clark, chairman of the Erewash Labour Local Government Committee, said: "The decision to rob Cotmanhay of its school has ripped the guts out of a community. What parent is going to feel happy about sending their child to the merged school when one of them is failing its present pupils?"
And the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers is threatening to strike over a plan to cut 15 teaching jobs at the merged academy.
NASUWT branch secretary Dave Wilkinson said: "Ormiston has until Monday to withdraw its current redundancy proposals. If it refuses to do so, strike action is a very real possibility."