Outrage as merger gets the go-ahead

NILA 02-10-12 BE 12 Ormiston enterprise academy, Cotmanhay.
NILA 02-10-12 BE 12 Ormiston enterprise academy, Cotmanhay.

The Government has given the go-ahead to merge two Ilkeston academies, forcing the former Bennerley school to close for good.

Following the announcement on Friday by Ormiston Trust, chair of governors at the Enterprise Academy Cllr Brian Lucas blasted its owners

accusing them of ‘lying’ when negotiations took place over academy status less than two years ago.

Campaigners have said the closure of the school, which opened well over 100 years ago, has ‘ripped the heart out of Cotmanhay’.

Students there now face a longer journey to the Ilkeston site, when their school closes in September 2014, and staff are likely to lose jobs.

Last year Ofsted placed Ormiston Ilkeston Academy in special measures after a damning report.

Cllr Lucas said: “I was instrumental in negotiating with Ormiston over academy status. We gave it them in good faith on the grounds that we would get a sixth form up and running and invest in the school. They have made Ilkeston their priority and kicked Cotmanhay in the teeth.”

Ormiston won £7.4m of funding for the Cotmanhay site after academy status was granted, which will now be spent on the Ilkeston site.

Blaming the decision on falling numbers, Ormiston said that class sizes at Ilkeston would remain ‘normal’.

A spokesman said: “The very survival of both academies would have been at serious risk if action was not taken now.”

“The promise to keep Ormiston Enterprise Academy open was made by the former chief executive in good faith.,” she added.

“Circumstances have changed since we took the school on, with financial viability being worse than realised.

“We made the decision to apply to merge as the only financially sustainable way to protect the students’ education.”