By Laurie Davies
AET Academy trust has announced its intention to close Severn View Academy at the end of this academic year. The announcement has come just 4 months after parents and students were assured that the school had no intention to close. Parents and children have been left distraught after the announced closure.
The trust has blamed the need for closure on low numbers, but many parents have criticised the management at the trust for actively not doing anything to increase school numbers for the last two years.
The school has had three different head teachers in 18 months alone, with parents saying that whilst the teachers and the support staff have been amazing at the school, it is the management that has let them all down.
The trust in charge of the school has previously received media attention when it was announced that AET paid almost £500,000 to private businesses owned by its trustees and executives.
Ian Comfort, who as CEO was recorded as earning £220,000 per annum, was reported to receive £329,000 in addition to his salary for ‘project management services’.
Gloucestershire County Council reassured parents that there would be places available for all children; however, one parent has described calling 15 schools this week only to be told that there were no available places in any of the schools.
Parents have set up a campaign Facebook page and petition which has gained 200 signatures in a matter of days.
David Drew, the former MP for Stroud, said: “After the year that these parents and children have had it is completely unacceptable to put them through this amount of upheaval and stress.
“It is obvious this is a much-needed resource in the area after they have already suffered drastic cuts by the removal of the family centre and nursery on the site, which I am also sure has contributed to declining numbers.
“The Department for Education and Gloucestershire County Council need to work together to make sure the closure doesn’t happen and another Academy Trust with more commitment can be found.”
Jennine Bateman, a mum of four children at the academy: Emma, eight; Lucy, five; and twins Jamie and Zoe, four, said: “It’s too much of a good school for it to close.
“All four of my children have come such a long way with the massive support the staff have given them.
“They love it. They’re happy to go to school in the mornings, they’re certainly happy when they come home.”
Parents and supporters of the campaign have written to current Stroud MP Siobhan Baillie but have not yet received a response.
Parents and campaigners against the school closure believe that AET Academy Trust has not followed all the procedures required by law before recommending closure and will be working to show this in the coming weeks.
It is already obvious that there are not sufficient places for all pupils in the local area and parents were not given any opportunity to take part in consultations prior to the announcement.
Those wanting to help with the campaign are asked to sign the petition and join the campaign page.
The parents have stated that they will not stop fighting this closure and are seeking a new and better Trust to take over the management of the school.
The decision on approving Severn Views closer rests with the Secretary of State for Education, Gavin Williamson. Due to this, we would encourage any resident of the Stroud constituency who if affected or concerned by this closure to contract Stroud’s MP Siobhan Baillie and ask her to either pass a letter onto Williamson outlining your concerns, or submit a written or oral question to him asking if he will consider parents significant concerns in the decision making process.
The online petition can be found below: