Make your views known on school closure

First published in Letters

An open letter to the people of Dudley South from MP Ian Pearson.

You will have seen recent press reports surrounding the decision made by Dudley Council to close Pensnett School.

This is a very difficult situation and I felt that I needed to write to you expressing my thoughts but most importantly to ask you what you feel about this.

I wrote some two years ago to all constituents about the opportunity we had to take on Building Schools for the Future funds which would allow us to re-build or completely re-furbish all of Dudley’s Secondary Schools.

You may also remember the tremendous disappointment we all felt when this Conservative controlled council said there would be an academy and then decided there would not be. The Conservatives have a terrible record on education in Dudley; they see closures of schools as their only answer and I have no doubt that the current consultation will signal the end of Pensnett. They have thrown out the Academy and I have grave concerns that they may still turn down the Building Schools for the Future funds.

You will ask, and have every right to do so, what is our MP doing about this? I have no statutory power to do anything to stop the process all I can do is to put as much pressure on the Council to ensure that every child in Pensnett and the surrounding areas does not lose out.

Plans must be put in place now and over the coming year to ensure that every child currently at the school has a sure and certain future in another local school.

Parents must be kept fully informed, all staff at the school must also be fully involved. You have an important role to play – there will be a number of public meetings during the consultation please go along, make sure you raise any questions or points of view.

If you can, write in expressing these views or asking the questions.

I will also be pressing the council to share their plans for the Building Schools for the Future bid that they have said they will be making to the Government in the Autumn.

This bid will only get through if it takes into account the present and future needs of all of our children. There will be a far more urgent need to develop schools around Pensnett now and this must be fully explored.

So, what next? I have already been in close contact with your local Labour councillors, Judy Foster and Karen Jordan who have held regular meetings with residents, teachers and governors of the School. I have held an initial meeting with the new Director of Children’s Services in Dudley. I will continue to liaise closely with all parties. I also want you to give me your thoughts and I have set out a few questions Pensnett School Survey that I would like you to answer.

Finally I have already been asked to save the School from closure. I do not have the power to do so; it would also be dishonest for me to say that I believe this is the best option. For me an Academy was and remains the best option providing education fit for the 21 st Century.

At present a very low percentage of local people want to send their child to Pensnett; what they want, what you want is the best education for your children. I will do all that I can to ensure that this will be the case in future.

Dudley South MP Ian Pearson

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