Get involved! Send your photos, video, news & views by texting DN NEWS to 80360 or e-mail us
Borough teen project to close following costly new rules
11:00am Thursday 19th July 2012 in News
A BARNARDO'S project for troubled young people throughout the borough is to close next week after civil servants imposed costly new regulations.
The Wheels project, which provides training and qualifications in motor mechanics for youngsters aged 14 to 18, will reach the end of the road on Friday July 27 with the loss of four jobs.
The project has been running for 16 years and deals with teenagers who have problems in regular schools. Its closure follows an Ofsted report demanding new conditions to maintain its independent schools status - which the charity could not afford.
Sam Monaghan, Barnardo’s Midlands director, said: “It is with considerable regret that the decision has been taken to close the Barnardo’s Wheels service at Stourbridge.
"The service has helped hundreds of young people over the years to gain qualifications and improve their future employment chances who would otherwise have continued to struggle in mainstream schooling."
Wheels is based on Gainsborough Trading Estate, in Stourbridge and last year the scheme provided support and education for 70 young people from across the Dudley borough and Worcestershire.
The project is funded by education authorities paying for teenagers to attend and Barnardo's says a drop in referrals was hitting their income hard.
After becoming an independent school last year, Wheels was inspected by education watchdogs from Ofsted who insisted on new methods, believed to be a greater emphasis on academic subjects, however the cost of the changes proved too much.
Dudley cabinet member for children's services, Cllr Tim Crumpton, was unaware of the closure, which he described as a real shock.
Cllr Crumpton said: "This is a tremendous blow, they provided an enormous amount of support to young people. "We need to change the system, I believe Ofsted reports are unfair in the extreme.
I will contact Barnardo's to find out exactly what's going on and see if there is anything we can do to reinstate this service."
Sam Monaghan added: "I understand that this has been a worrying time for young people and their parents and we have been working closely with the schools and partner agencies in the run up to the service closure to ensure that there is a clear plan of how each young person’s needs will be met."