A controversial shake-up for secondary education in our area has been given the green light, with the Mablethorpe campus of Monks’ Dyke Tennyson College set to be closed by September 2016 to allow schooling of the pupils to be concentrated at the larger site in Louth in a bid to save costs.
In addition, the college will take on “sponsored academy” status - in response to a directive from the Department of Education which is concerned about exam performance.
At a meeting today (Friday July 24), county councillors noted a report from education chief Debbie Barnes indicating that closure of the Mablethorpe site had been proposed by the board of governors.
Because of “financial constraints”, the board has been struggling to provide “a broad and balanced curriculum across two sites with very low pupil numbers” - currently 554 at Louth and 231 at Mablethorpe, but with even fewer projected for 2015-16.
Formerly separate schools, Mablethorpe Tennyson High School and Louth Monks’ Dyke Technology College began working together in partnership in 2008 and were federated under a single leadership in June 2010 before becoming a single split-site school in September 2012.
At the crunch meeting in Lincoln, former Mablethorpe Mayor Coun Tony Howard implored county councillors to hold back from wielding the axe.
“Apart from the unfairness to pupils and parents, closure of this site will have a devastating effect on the pupils and on the wider community,” he argued. “The effect will be akin to the closure in the 1960s of the railway station.
“The Tennyson site has dedicated people running it, and it is a hub for events such as the Mablethorpe Show and the Mablethorpe Marathon - the latter attracts national and international participants.
“This is the biggest town on the north of the Lincolnshire Coast. It has population of between 12,000 and 13,000. A new 160-home development is under development. It fervently deserves secondary school provision.
”What is required is investment by the county council to demonstrate confidence in the future of the town.”
Similar sentiments were sounded by Coun Sarah Dodds, who said: “What message is the county council sending out about Mablethorpe if it allows this site to shut?
“What families will want to come to the town is there is no secondary school provision?”
“We should do our utmost to retain the site.”
Following the decision made at Friday’s meeting of the county’s Children’s and Young People Scrutiny Committee, current Mablethorpe pupils now face the prospect of being bussed - a daily 30-mile round trip - to Louth unless they transfer to Alford’s John Spendluffe Technology College (eight miles away) or North Somercotes’ Birkbeck College (12 miles away).
Those parents whose children are currently at primary school will have their choice of secondary education restricted.
Prior to the axe falling, a formal consultation process will be undertaken - starting early in September - with the parents of existing pupils.
However, when completed - probably by the end January next year - it would be a surprise of the decision were to be reversed.