Shrewsbury Sixth Form College to take over Wakeman School site

Shrewsbury Sixth Form College will take over the site of the Wakeman School when the secondary closes this summer, it was confirmed today.

The Wakeman School, Shrewsbury
The Wakeman School, Shrewsbury

Talks have been taking place since last year and the transfer has finally been given the go-ahead by Shropshire Council.

In exchange, the council will be handed the college’s study centre in St Austin’s Street and part of the adjacent Tannery car park.

Council bosses said the study centre would be used as a training and meeting venue for workers in education, business support and skills development.

The Wakeman is being closed this summer by the authority as part of its schools reorganisation programme, despite an extensive campaign by parents, pupils and teachers to try and save it.

In November 2011, independent school adjudicator Canon Richard Lindley backed the council’s decision to shut the school.

Under the deal the Wakeman, which sits on the banks of the River Severn in Abbey Foregate, will come under the college’s ownership from September.

The deal is subject to approval from the Secretary of State for Education.

Cecilia Motley, Shropshire Council’s cabinet member for education and skills, said: “The decision to close the Wakeman School and Arts College, while extremely difficult to make, was the right decision for the future of education in Shropshire.”

Martin Ward, principal of Shrewsbury Sixth Form College, said: “The existing Priory Road site will specialise in mathematics, science, technology and professional studies, whilst the new Wakeman site will concentrate on creative and performing arts, English, sport and social sciences,” he said.

Andy Rayment, chairman of governors at The Wakeman, said the decision left with him with mixed feelings.

“We did all we could to try and keep the school open and lost the battle. I’m pleased it is going to be used for education for the town and the county.”

Comments for: "Shrewsbury Sixth Form College to take over Wakeman School site"

Ex-Priorian

Hardly a secret that the developer vultures were circling the old Priory Boys building but it's interesting to know that they actually run the town too while they let the council play at tinkering with the traffic system. More executive suites with secure gated parking then, more people crammed into the loop. Getting a tad silly now

Port Hill Boy

Remember all those scare stories and conspiracy theories rfrom Wakeman at the time? the school was being closed for housing to be built there?

what nonsense. I hope some of the "campaigners" have the good grace to say they were wrong.

Robin Hood

the campaign to save Wakeman didn't say that the building was wanted for housing.

the campaign did, however, say that the Council's claim (among other farcical arguments) that the building wasn't suitable for educational purposes was far-fetched.

there was, at the time we were trying to save the school, suspicion of Shropshire Council's motives and that is still the case - they wanted to close Wakeman in the absence of any justifiable educational reasons and they kept out of the public domain who was interested in taking over the building.

and another of Shropshire Council's claims is now being called into doubt by subsequent events - that secondary school numbers were falling sufficiently in Shrewsbury to justify closure of a good school.

how is the Sixth Form's expansion justified if there is such a shortage of kids coming through secondary schools? and don't say that the Sixth Form doesn't just serve Shrewsbury - anyone who's been privvy to population data for Shropshire will know that the number of young people is set to rise rapidly in Shrewsbury and fall in its rural hinterlands.

Although maybe there is still more to this than meets the eye and in time, some of the beautiful buildings currently occupied by the Sixth Form on Priory Road will find a grateful new owner.

Shropshire Council's decision to close Wakeman was wrong on so many levels and that will not fade away just because the building is going to be kept for educational use.

helen

Port Hill Boy,

Wakeman never said that the housing would replace the school. If people were suspicious of Shropshire Council's motives in closing Wakeman, that is because their track record is appalling and their case made no sense. Speculation and suspicion thrive in conditions like that and I'm not surprised that some people jumped to their own conclusions.

I am proud that I helped with the campaign to save Wakeman. I did so because I disagreed with the waste of a brilliant school where my daughter was thriving. I didn't believe that the experience she had could be replicated elsewhere in Shrewsbury. I disagreed with putting good teachers and other staff on the dole. I disagreed with disrupting childrens' education without good reason. I believed that a town the size of Shrewsbury should have a secondary school in its heart. I believed that the building was ideal for educational purposes. I understood that the dip in pupil numbers was a very temporary thing and that closing the school at a time when the population was rocketing in Shrewsbury was a terrible waste. Nothing that has happened since then has changed my mind. You may have won, but that doesn't make you right. Maybe you should have the good grace to give it a rest now and keep your comments on Wakeman to yourself.

Roger

Was this part of the case for closing the Wakeman or did that need the property value to be included. Or was this always the plan but needed time for the original case to be forgotten before bringing this plan forward again.

In terms of a property swap it reflects our council’s determination to get value for money. A tatty old ex showroom in exchange for a wonderful brick built structure capable of redevelopment as a hotel, office or apartment block.

Shrewsbury Mum

Roger,

If you're concern is about value for money, wait until we learn how much it has cost us to close Wakeman- from what I've heard it's a fortune. And in the meantime there are already signs that we'll have to pay for a new school soon. One of the Cabinet members who agreed the Wakeman closure and has a ward in Shrewsbury has already leafletted his area to say he's worried that the lack of secondary school places in town will result in his constituents not getting places for their kids in a local school. The elections in May can't come soon enough.

eva land

This was so obvious.

Man of the shire

I knew that this had been given the go ahead weeks ago - to claim that it was decided today is a joke.

And, incidentally, is this the same Shrewsbury Sixth Form that claimed a big sum of public money for new buildings on their current site claiming that there were no options for expansion elsewhere?

We live in interesting and dishonest times.

Shakewell

No surprise there then. The real reason for the Wakeman closure revealed. Property developers can finally get their hands on the sixth form college's town centre property.

Ex-SixthFormer

I think it is a fantastic opportunity for the improvement of state post-16 education in Shropshire. I have great faith in Shrewsbury Sixth Form and am looking forward to seeing the developments across the town.

helen

It's funny that only a couple of years ago, Shropshire Council was trying to cut back on sixth form provision in Shrewsbury, and move the Sixth Form College out of town. Now suddenly the Tech and Sixth Form College have both had big grants to build, and the Sixth Form is getting Wakeman too- and they have only just expanded into the old Connexions offices. There must be an awful lot of demand for post 16 education in town after all. At least 2 primary schools in Shrewsbury are also expanding, so it looks like there are plenty of children under 11 needing schools too. You only need to look around to see all of the new houses springing up in town, and the census showed that the population in Shrewsbury is already booming before most of these are even built. If we need more college places for students over 16 and more school places for younger children then it's not rocket science that we're also going to need all of the secondary school places we've got very soon, if not more. Giving the Wakeman to the Sixth Form College only shows what a stupid, short-sighted, wasteful decision closing the school was.

Shrewsbury Taxpayer

Out of town? You mean to London Road. Hardly the moon. Heavens, Shrewsbury can be so parochial. The fact is, the Sixth Forms's existing accommodation is lousy. The Wakeman building at least provides an opportunity for improvement. Just a shame that the Sixth Form and SCAT wasted £2m on their badly-led project for a joint site, as that money could have been spent on refurbishment of both Wakeman for the Sixth Form and London Road for SCAT.

Helen

Shrewsbury Taxpayer

The point I was making is that in only a couple of years, Shropshire Council has gone from trying to reduce our sixth form provision to substantially increasing it. They are also increasing primary school provision in town. At the same time they are reducing secondary school provision. This can't make financial sense- all the evidence shows that the population in Shrewsbury, children included, is growing. At some point soon they'll have to replace Wakeman and it will cost us a fortune.

By closing Wakeman the council has taken just about the only decent building out of secondary school provision too. If you think the Sixth Form's existing accommodation is lousy, you should take a look at Meole Brace, Grange or Belvidere schools sometime. If they are going to get a good education our kids need decent primary schools, secondary schools AND colleges- it's no good having superb facilities post 16 whilst running down the rest. Unless the plan is for a lot more renovating and rebuilding of our schools- but if so that will cost us another fortune.

I'm glad that the lovely Wakeman buildings will still be used for education, but it doesn't change the fact that it should have remained a school, and it doesn't make what happened to the children and staff there any better. We already had a college- we are still losing our only town centre school.

In giving Wakeman to the Sixth Form, Shropshire Council seem to have forgotten that part of their case to close the school was that the building wasn't really suitable for education due to its supposed high carbon footprint, frequent flooding and lack of parking. It's ironic that the Sixth Form is going to teach sports from Wakeman when another part of the council's argument for closing the school was that the playing fields were unsatisfactory. As for using the buildings for teaching the creative and performing arts- we have a great new facility for teaching the subjects post 16 having closed the school that taught them best to GCSE level! I agree with Andy Rayment- this announcement leaves me with very mixed feelings. It certainly doesn't lessen the injustice of the loss of Wakeman.

Shrewsbury Mum

Sorry, forgot to put my name to the anonymous comment above...

actually

Sorry have I misread? Where does it say that the sixth form will be leaving the priory rd site? Great news for them to have sports facilities something lacking currently.

Roger

There is no playing field at the Wakeman. It may have a gym but I would have thought anyone apsiring to a sports qualification would go to the London Road Tech where they have all of the right facilities.

helen

Roger,

Wakeman's playing field is a 5 minute walk from the school- behind Castle Walk. Shropshire Council argued that its location was unsatisfactory for educational purposes during the consultation into the school's future, but it looks like, as with so many other things, they've changed their minds on this now they are closing the school.

Liana

the sixth form college has released a statement about this move here;

http://www.ssfc.ac.uk/two-centres-of-excellence-in-town-centre/

in which Cecilia Motley, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for education and skills writes

“This move will also benefit a range of stakeholders, including students, teachers, the local community and town centre business and retailers – who will benefit from additional trade created by students travelling between the two sites.

This needs clarification along with the predicted 400 students using the priory, 400 using the Wakeman and 700 travelling between the two- how exactly will our children be expected to travel between the two?

In reference to the 'retailers benefiting from the additional trade created by students travelling between the two sites' they will be walking... oh yes, lets all get excited about retailers benefiting from students spending their paltry £40 HALF TERMLY educational bursary along the way!

So now my child cant simply attend college and concentrate on studying, they now have to contend with time wasting and distractions whilst travelling between the two places, and if they do have to pay for using public transport to do this they will be further disadvantaged.

I'm sure many kids would have liked to have known about this before they chose their college, how wonderfully well thought out,

Robin Hood

No wonder Shrewsbury Sixth form wouldn't enter into negotiations with Wakeman about sharing the building (which would have thus safeguarded the school and provided the Sixth Form with the extra facilities it seems to need). Instead they can have it all to themselves and flog off a tatty old building to the Council in the process.

Dog eat dog, or in this case Sixth Form eat Wakeman.

Robin Hood

And it would also explain why Shropshire Council failed to answer a Freedom of Information request about its valuation of Wakeman until it was forced to by an appeal to the FOI Commissioner - the valuation - £300,000.

Ali G

shame wakemans closing, had some good years at that school

respect