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Burnholme campaigners call for reassurances
CAMPAIGNERS who fought to save York’s smallest secondary school say they are resigned to its closure - but will tonight call for education chiefs to live up to promises about what happens next.
City of York Council’s cabinet will next week be asked to rubber-stamp closing Burnholme Community College because of falling pupil numbers and the cost of keeping it open, which the authority says would be at least £580,000 a year with other schools having to subsidise it.
A 1,996-name petition opposing the move will tonight be presented to a full council meeting by the Burnholme Parents Action Group, which wants to be given assurances. These include that there will be sufficient places for pupils in the east of York if Burnholme shuts, the proposed phased closure programme until August 2014 will be adhered to, and replacement community facilities will be provided.
Only 40 students have applied to go to Burnholme this September, meaning it would have 270 out of a potential 600 students. If the closure decision is confirmed, the council has said it will ensure 172 current Year 9, 10 and 11 students can complete their education there.
“If we are honest, we knew it was likely to close because so many plans had been made, although we still believe our figures for future pupil numbers in east York - which do not tally with the council’s - are correct,” said campaigner Dawn Leatt.
“We believe this will lead to a shortage of places and are also concerned about special educational needs provision. We now want to ensure the closure is carried out in the best way possible, runs its course until 2014 and allows every child a smooth transition to a new school.
“Almost 2,000 signatures on the petition speaks volumes for the strength of feeling in the community. There is a lot of concern and we want to avoid a knee-jerk reaction from parents which sees them taking their children out of Burnholme and the school closing sooner because numbers get too low.”
The council allowed a recent six-week representation period for views on the closure plans to be submitted. Burnholme head teacher Simon Gumn said: “It’s extremely disappointing, but we will ultimately have to live with it and do our best for the children and parents for as long as we can carry on.”