Governors say they feel betrayed and have branded plans to close Ormiston Enterprise Academy as a ‘kick in the teeth.’
Plans to merge the school, formerly Bennerley Business and Enterprise College, with the Ormiston Ilkeston Academy sparked a furious reaction when they were revealed exclusively by the Advertiser this week.
Governor at the Cotmanhay school, Cllr Brian Lucas, said: “This is a total betrayal of students, staff and the community of Cotmanhay. Ormiston have gone back on every promise they ever made to us.
“When the deal for Bennerley was agreed they were the only school in the picture.
“When Ilkeston School became an Ormiston academy promises were made that the two schools wouldn’t be merged.”
Ormiston was asked on numerous occasions by the governing body and the Advertiser if it had any plans to merge the two schools in the future but every time the question was put to the educational trust they denied it would ever happen.
Cllr Val Custance, another governor, added: “I’m absolutely gobsmacked, gutted and very angry that they have gone back on everything that they ever said.
“When we agreed to the school becoming an academy we had no other choice, we were told if nothing was done the school would close down. We did it reluctantly.
“Now that’s going to happen anyway, and after such a good year.
“Closing down Bennerley is like ripping the heart out of this community.”
Responding to questions asked by the Advertiser about Ormiston breaking promises made to Bennerley, a spokesman said: “When the promise was made to Bennerley Business and Enterprise College it was based on a belief that new students in the school catchment area would be attracted to the school once it became an academy and had been extensively refurbished.
“This did not happen and falling rolls across all secondary schools in the Ilkeston/Erewash area and cuts in education have combined to exacerbate the situation.”
Ormiston told the Advertiser that falling pupil numbers at both schools and bleak financial projections are to blame for the proposal.
A spokesman said: “In the Ilkeston area, falling rolls are impacting on all secondary schools and will continue to do so until at least 2016.
“This means that rolls at both academies are falling quite sharply.
“In light financial projections, and the corresponding impact on students and their education provision, a public consultation process will start for the merger of both academies onto the Ilkeston site by September 2014.”
But governors say they feel a decision has already been made and Ormiston have been planning the merger for some time.
Cllr Val Custance added: “I’m in the process of starting up a campaign to make sure that this closure doesn’t happen.
“The priority for all of us now is to make sure we do what is best for the students and the community.”
Rev Pete Davey, another governor, added: “Essentially nothing has changed since we became an academy only now Ilkeston School is in the picture as well. Ormiston knew that Bennerley was struggling and that there were challenges when they took over.
“They have gone from being very positive in a tough situation to being very negative.
“Cotmanhay is very proud of it’s school. Bennerley closing would damage the community quite considerably.”