Around 400 children a year with no school to go to is 'biggest scandal', says MP (From This Is Lancashire)
Around 400 children a year with no school to go to is 'biggest scandal', says MP
ABOUT 400 children a year are leaving Radcliffe primary schools every year with no secondary school in the town to go to in what MP Ivan Lewis has described as “the biggest scandal of his political career”.
With the town being left without a secondary school when Radcliffe Riverside closes next summer, the debate was reopened at a public meeting last Thursday (December 5).
During proceedings it was revealed there are around 400 children leaving eight would-be feeder primary schools in the town every year.
The cross-party meeting was chaired by Bury South MP Mr Lewis and Radcliffe West Cllr Rishi Shori and Aaron Hepworth of the Radcliffe Independence Party.
Mr Lewis said: “The loss of a high school in Radcliffe is a disgrace – the biggest scandal of my political career.
“Radcliffe deserves a better future and parents should not be treated as second class citizens.”
After the meeting, Mr Lewis said his first step is to gather evidence of the need for a school from Bury Council.
This information would include number of children currently in Radcliffe’s primary schools, a projection of further numbers and how many children currently travel outside the borough.
Radcliffe Riverside currently teaches only year eleven pupils and thousands of children and teenagers currently have to go out of the town for their secondary education. Mr Lewis and Cllr Shori lead a campaign in 2009 to save the school from closure, marching from Radcliffe to the Town Hall and taking the issue to parliament.
A new school had been promised to people in Radcliffe since the amalgamation of Radcliffe and Coney Green High Schools in 2003.
Initially a school was expected to open on the East Lancashire Paper Mill site in 2007 as a new state-of-the-art home for Radcliffe Riverside High.
But after a series of delays, Bury’s Conservative-led council announced in 2008 it would instead close Radcliffe Riverside and build a new Derby High School on the mill site.
After Bury Council changed hands, last year leader Mike Connolly announced Derby High would stay at its current site and would receive a £1.2 million sports hall.
At the time Cllr Connolly reassured families the announcement did not affect the council’s long-term aim to build a new high school in Radcliffe.
Cllr Shori said: “There is a real opportunity to do something about this – and it may be the last chance we have for a very long time.
“As a governor of two primary schools in Radcliffe, I know parents are desperate for a top quality local high school to send their children to.”
One of the issues Aaron Hepworth’s newly-formed Radcliffe Independence Party was founded on is the desire for a new secondary school in the town.
He had hoped a minimum of 200 concerned residents would come to the meeting to prove their passion for a new school, but there were around 40 people in attendance.
After Mr Lewis has compiled his research surveys will be sent to parents of primary school-aged children in Radcliffe and a Facebook campaign will be launched.
Then the options will be reviewed – which could include a school built by Bury Council or a government-funded establishment.
A report will then be compiled and presented to Bury Council and the Department of Education. This process is expected to take at least six months.
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