BLUE COAT SCHOOL LATEST
Since our last Newsletter was published, we have heard from Jane Kennedy M.P. She has been assured by Jacqui Smith M.P. - Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the DfEE - that "the Department is not forcing the school to abandon its premises. It is true that we had some reservations before proceeding with the investment of a very large sum of money ... The current site is far too big for a school of this size, almost three times the normal area ... Any reduction of the surplus capacity would be difficult to bring about because of the listed nature of the buildings. And yet the school is short of some key facilities; for example, a lack of private study facilities for the Sixth Form. ... We therefore recommended to the governors that, before proceeding, they carry out a fresh options appraisal. ... The report - which was approved unanimously by the governors - recommended that the preferred option should be a move into new buildings on a different site. ... I must stress again - we are not forcing the school to abandon its plans; the decision has been made by the governors."
Meanwhile, the Headmaster has written to parents stating that "The present building does not provide opportunities to deliver the full national curriculum in the areas of PE and Science in particular. In the case of the former these are to do with range of experiences and in the latter these are to do with investigative work. More than this however is the constraint which the building presents in terms of flexibility of accommodation for a range of teaching and learning styles. ... The Governors have collectively and unanimously agreed on the way forward, i.e. new build on a new site."
We are puzzled by the emphasis on the shortcomings of the existing building, and in particularly its 'inflexibility' in spite of being 'too big'. The fact remains that, if the school moves out, the existing building will have to be adapted for some other purpose; its Grade II* Listed status does not mean that no changes whatsoever will be permitted. We are also puzzled by the governors' reluctance to consider refurbishing just part of the school - which would allow the Trustees to sell off or lease the remainder for some other purpose: i.e. whatever use they have in mind for the whole building in the event of the school moving out.
We hope that things will become clearer when the governors' Project Team reports (probably in July) on the results of its search for a new site.