A number of local parents have contacted me very concerned about the future of The Coseley School. I first met with parents about this issue on Friday 16th January. On Monday 18th January Dudley Council’s cabinet agreed to begin a consultation on the closure of the school while options for a replacement are pursued.
Yesterday (Friday 22nd January) I met with Dudley Council leader Pete Lowe, Dudley cabinet member for education Cllr Ian Cooper, parents from Coseley school, the three ward councillors for Coseley and the chair of Governors at the school.
The following issues were raised at the meeting.
1) The school’s results. The council reported that the school’s results had consistently been below both the national average and the average for other schools in the borough. The latest results show just 31% of pupils achieving 5 good GCSEs including English and maths, against a borough average of 52% and a national average of 56%. The parents contended that the school was doing better now and were hopeful of a significant improvement this year.
2) Pupil places. There are 195 places available next year. Just 39 children from Dudley borough have applied for places, with a further 15 from outside the borough. This means the school is heavily undersubscribed. The council stressed that their reasons for considering mothballing the school were not financially driven. However the lack of applications for places does impact on the school’s finances as school funding is in part funding per pupil.
3) Alternatives to closure. I asked the council what alternatives to closure had been considered, e.g. turnaround initiatives which have worked at other schools, partnering with another school or any other alternatives. They said they had sought partners but had not found any available and willing to enter into such a partnership with the school.
4) Parents’ concerns. The parents said the school had strengths, that their children were happy there and received good support. They were very concerned that the same support might not be available at alternative schools. They said some of the alternative schools for Coseley pupils may not have places and that some were not doing significantly better in terms of results.
5) Future options. The council stressed that their intention was still to have educational provision on this site, though their proposal would mean the mothballing of the existing site for several years. This is because pupil numbers are expected to rise again in a few years’ time and because there are significant numbers of new houses planned for the Coseley area. The council said the specific options they might consider included a University Technical College (which despite its name is a form of school) and a studio school which is a smaller school than a secondary school. No decisions on these options have been made.
6) The consultation. The council has to consult on its proposals and I would urge as many people as possible to respond to the consultation. You can find out more about the consultation here http://www.dudley.gov.uk/resident/learning-school/schools-and-colleges/coseley-school-consultation/
I hope this update is helpful. I want to secure the best possible educational opportunities for children in Coseley and I will continue to work with both the parents and the local council on this issue.