Formal notice issued to close one of Brighton and Hove's biggest schools

Posted On 27 Dec 2010 at 3:20 pm

The formal notice to propose the closure of one of Brighton and Hove’s biggest schools has been published.

The school – Portslade Community College – will be replaced by an academy school sponsored by former pupil Rod Aldridge.

The notice says: “The closure of Portslade Community College is dependent on the opening of an academy on the same site the following day.

“It is not anticipated that any pupils who currently attend Portslade Community College will be displaced as a result of the proposed school closure.

“All pupils at the school who wish to continue their education in that location will be offered a place at the newly created academy unless they choose to move to another school which has places available.

“The proposed academy will provide 1,200 places for children ages 11 to 16 and 250 sixth form places.”

Ofsted, the schools watchdog, placed Portslade in special measures in the summer after an inspection in March.

Progress

The inspectors’ report acknowledged the progress made since head teacher Stuart McLaughlin joined the school in September last year.

But he arrived just over a year after pupils sitting exams were judged to have such poor progress that only five other schools in the country performed worse.

The “value added” scores, published in January last year brought pressure on Brighton and Hove City Council to look hard at Portslade.

Councillors and officials hope that the academy proposal will help to transform the school’s fortunes – a plan that they are already pursuing in Falmer.

In September the Brighton Aldridge Community Academy replaced Falmer High School.

Mr McLaughlin, the former head of Falmer High, took over at Portslade after he was told that he would not be running the academy.

At Portslade, however, he will stay in charge – even though the academy will have the same sponsor, millionaire businessman Rod Aldridge.

One former pupil said: “I hope that becoming an academy will make a difference although, in itself, I don’t think that’s enough.

Rebranded

“Stanley Deason in Whitehawk was closed and rebranded twice before being shut down for good.

“The school may have been part of the problem but I suspect there were wider and deeper problems.

“In places where there is poverty, low aspiration and too few employment opportunities, it is not surprising to find fractured families, crime and drink and drug problems.

“A school needs a good structure to succeed, of course, and it needs a good head to lead it.

“It also needs capable and committed staff who can be confident that they have the support of the whole community – from the governors, senior management and colleagues through to parents, police and the wider public.

“Good relations with the bigger local employers can be invaluable too.

“Schools like Falmer and Portslade won’t be turned around overnight and if they are to improve then a lot of work needs to be done in the communities they serve.

“Money will help but it’s about so much more than money.

“And it’s not just about academic achievement.

Vocational

“In places like Whitehawk, Moulsecoomb and Portslade it’s particularly important to cater for the pupils who are unlikely to sparkle academically.

“A truly good school will tap into their talents and help them find out what they are good at.

“School need not be vocational but it should provide the skills to enable pupils to find and learn their vocation.

“So at somewhere like Portslade, I’d like to think that the curriculum would include a greater range of practical subjects than it might have done in the past.

“Change is often tricky so I wish Mr McLaughlin and his staff and the pupils and their families every success.”

For a copy of the complete academy proposal, email gil.sweetenham@brighton-hove.gov.uk.

Anyone wishing to comment on or object to the academy proposal for Portslade has until Friday 28 January.

Comments and objection should be sent to Gil Sweetenham, Schools Futures Project Director, Brighton and Hove City Council, King’s House, Grand Avenue, Hove, BN3 2LS.

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