Monday, 10 July 2017

No Closure Plans For Chiltern Edge School

Copied below is today's press release from Oxfordshire County Council and response from Reading Borough Council

"No closure plans following Chiltern Edge consultation"

Plans to allow more time for Chiltern Edge School to raise education standards are being put forward following a consultation into the school’s future.

Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet will be asked to set up an external review of improvements made by staff in the coming months, as the Sonning Common-based school tackles the serious issues highlighted by Ofsted and ongoing financial problems. The review would take place in October and a progress report would be brought to the council’s cabinet in November.

The council launched a consultation on 27 April seeking views on the potential impact of a decision to close the school, and whether other solutions could be found to ensure good quality education in this part of Oxfordshire. This followed the release of an Ofsted report which rated the school Inadequate in almost every area assessed, and the placing of the school in Special Measures.

A report on the outcome of the consultation, together with recommendations for the external review will be considered by the council’s Cabinet next Tuesday (18 July).

Working towards lasting solution

The council’s newly appointed Cabinet Member for Education Hilary Hibbert-Biles said: “We are working towards a lasting solution which both enables the school to stay open and delivers the much-needed improvements demanded by Ofsted. Our number one priority remains to ensure that good educational opportunities are available to children in this part of Oxfordshire.

“The first important steps have been taken by the school’s very capable new leadership team and it is right that more time should now be given for the school to turn itself around. Many people will also be aware that we are in early discussion with the Regional Schools Commissioner and a potential sponsor for Chiltern Edge School.

She added: “During my meetings with school staff, families and campaigners, I have been impressed by the tremendous level of support for the school and the high regard in which it is so obviously held – despite the very serious criticisms from Ofsted. I have heard those voices loud and clear both in person, and in the statements of support submitted to the consultation.

“I know the last few weeks have been a very difficult time for staff, pupils and their families, and I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to the consultation to help find a solution which, above all else, will bring about the much needed improvement in the education of local children.”

Consultation responses

The vast majority of the 1,029 responses to the consultation were opposed to any proposal to close the school, and most stated that the school should be given more time and support to improve and stay open. There were also many responses which disagreed with the Ofsted judgement, saying the criticism did not reflect their experience of the school.

Only a few responses were supportive of a closure proposal, raising concerns over the ability of the school to turn itself around quickly enough and the impact this would have on children’s education.

A full overview and breakdown of consultation responses is included in the Cabinet report.

Positive developments

A number of positive developments have taken place during the consultation period, including the appointment of an Interim Executive Board at Chiltern Edge, led by an experienced former Headteacher.

An interim Headteacher with a proven track record of school improvement was also appointed, taking up her position on 5 June. She has put in place a range of actions and strategies aimed at addressing the numerous weaknesses identified.

Meanwhile the council is in early discussion with the Regional Schools Commissioner, and with a potential sponsor for Chiltern Edge School, the Maiden Erlegh Trust – a multi-academy trust based in Wokingham."

- end of press release -

Reading Welcomes Future Plans for Chiltern Edge School

NEWS that Chiltern Edge School is expected to be saved from closure has been welcomed by Reading Borough Council.

The Cabinet Member for Education at Oxfordshire County Council has confirmed today that she will not be recommending the closure of the school at the authority’s cabinet meeting on 18th July.

Reading has been lobbying for the school to remain open after its future was thrown into doubt following an ‘Inadequate’ judgement from Ofsted inspectors.

Councillor Tony Jones, Reading’s Lead Councillor for Education, said: “I’m delighted that Oxfordshire’s Cabinet Member for Education, Hilary Hibbert-Biles, has decided not to recommend the closure of Chiltern Edge School.

“The news will come as a great relief to parents, pupils and teachers at the school who have had to live with a high degree of uncertainty over the last three months.

“The consultation held by Oxfordshire showed an enormous amount of support and affection for Chiltern Edge and I witnessed this myself during a number of public meetings I attended.

“However, we must not forget that the school still faces a number of challenges and must overcome the serious issues highlighted by Ofsted and its ongoing financial problems. Providing good quality education for pupils, many of whom are Reading children, must be top priority and I wish all concerned well in securing a sponsor for the school.”

Oxfordshire County Council announced a consultation on the possible closure of Chiltern Edge on 27th April after the school was placed into Special Measures.

There was strong support for the school to remain open among the community and Reading’s Council leader Cllr Jo Lovelock, Cllr Jones and senior officers met with Oxfordshire County Council leader Ian Hudspeth to express their concerns.

A report on the outcome of the consultation and recommendations for an external review of the school’s progress will be considered by Oxfordshire’s Cabinet next Tuesday (18th July).  

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