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Closure of Glenburn Sports College

Volume 592: debated on Thursday 12 February 2015

The Petition of residents of West Lancashire,

Declares that there are plans to close Glenburn Sports College; further that the Petitioners do not support the closure of Glenburn Sports College but wish to keep it as the local school in the Skelmersdale area; further that the Petitioners deplore the high-handed way that Lancashire County Council decided to consult on the possible closure of the school; and further that a local petition on this matter was signed by 2,759 individuals.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to encourage Lancashire County Council to have a genuine consultation about the possible closure of Glenburn Sports College in order to listen to the pupils and parents of the school and to explain the decision-making process behind the plans to close the school; and further request that the House of Commons urges the Government to encourage Lancashire County Council to give time and support to Glenburn Sports College to enable the school to improve its performance and financial position.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Rosie Cooper, Official Report, 16 December 2014; Vol. 589, c. 1375.]

[P001415]

Observations from the Secretary of State for Education:

The Government are committed to transforming the schools system to ensure that not only are there a sufficient supply of schools places but that these places are of the highest quality.

Decisions relating to school closures are taken locally following a well-established five-stage statutory process. The process includes an early consultation period to allow those affected by the closure proposals to submit views and comments. The proposals must then be published in a number of places and a formal representation period follows. This allows a further opportunity for views and comments to be submitted.

The Decision makers’ guidance document issued by the Department gives a full and comprehensive explanation of all of the issues and considerations which the decision-maker must take into account when considering statutory proposals. They must be fully satisfied that the appropriate statutory process has been carried out, that all views submitted have been considered and all issues surrounding the closure, especially alternative and suitable provision for displaced pupils, have been explored and planned.

Lancashire County Council is proposing the closure of Glenburn Sports College due to concerns over educational standards, falling pupil numbers and financial viability. The stage one (informal) consultation period closed on 14 December 2014. The Council will consider the comments received and decide if they wish to move forward with the closure proposal. A final decision to close Glenburn Sports College has not yet been made.

If the Council decides to proceed with the closure of Glenburn Sports College, then they will be responsible for making a final decision on the closure proposals. However if they do not decide the proposal within two months; the decision is taken by the Schools Adjudicator. As Glenburn is a foundation school, if the Council does take a decision to close the school, then the Governing Body could appeal to the Schools Adjudicator, within four weeks of the decision being made.

As these decisions must be made locally, the Government are unable to influence the outcome. The Secretary of State’s intervention powers in matters such as these are extremely limited. She may only intervene where the local authority has acted in breach of its statutory duties, or acted in a way that is so unreasonable that no other authority would have acted in such a way.