School quashes pupils’ bid to protest closure

Ormiston Ilkeston Enterprise Academy.
Ormiston Ilkeston Enterprise Academy.

Sixth formers have been praised for their tenacious efforts to try and save their sixth form, and as they desperately try to rally public support to save their education, some told of plans to demonstrate outside of school in their lunch break.

Student at Ormiston Ilkeston Enterprise Academy, Laura Kibble, 17, said classmates banded together to make signs in the hope of drumming up local attention at Ilkeston market square.

The school claims low fundinging and student numbers prompted the move to close its sixth form.

The school claims low fundinging and student numbers prompted the move to close its sixth form.

But the Tiser learnt just as lunch started that the school attempted to stop them in their tracks, claiming they would get into ‘trouble’, according to a pupil.

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Laura added: “We’ve been told not to protest because of the negative effect it may have on the rest of the school.

“I feel completely defeated. It just seems impossible that we can solve this. As passionate and angry as we are, we’re trapped in this situation and are being prevented from expressing our views equally.

“We’re not children, our opinion should be valid.”

The sixth formers have been praised for their continued efforts to try and change the school’s mind, having talked to the school about seeking council help and even doing some fundraising themselves.

The year groups from 16 to 18 were told only yesterday that the difficult decision had been made to close the department in Summer 2016 because numbers were too low.

The move to redirect funds into lower year groups comes only months after the King George Avenue school completed a new £7.5 million building, leaving many feeling betrayed as they chose the school over others after GCSEs.

And Laura said she was ‘furious’ that the students were not given more notice that they would be the King George Avenue school’s final A-level achievers.

She added: “I am personally furious with this decision, and how little warning we received. This is extremely unfair on the students who had the opportunity to continue with their courses next year and the effort that the staff and students have taken to promote the Sixth Form.

“I urge the students and the community to fight for our Sixth Form for the future of students.

“No one knew that this was going to happen and we where all devastated.”

“I am outraged that this decision has been made without our knowledge and will do anything in my power to prevent this.”

Principal Mike Smith said previously: “The interests of our young people are always our number one priority.

“We understand that students and parents are disappointed and it is not a decision we came to lightly.”

One parent told of her amazement and pride in the teenagers who have gone to every measure in an effort to try and save their much-loved sixth form department.

Gill Berwick said after witnessing a meeting between pupils and the Principal yesterday: “They were amazing with their questions and reasoned arguments, I wish everyone could of heard them and seen what a fantastic effort, under the circumstances, they were making in trying to keep their 6th form open. They offered fund raising, sponsorship and contacting the council and MPs.

“I just want everyone o know about this and be as proud as I am of these young people in their vain attempts to secure their futures.”

And for student Amy Watkinson, 17, she continues to try and change the school’s decision.

She said: “The students have been unaware of the change and each individual is now heart broken at the loss of a great asset to Ilkeston.

“The loss of community spirit will be dramatic, less students will have the opportunity to reach their goals of going to university.

“We need the local community to be aware of what they will be loosing, the volunteer work, the charity work for Ben’s den, the work we do for Gambia, the lifetime trips and exhibitions around England and most of all the amazing teachers who have changed many lives that will now have to loose their jobs. So many students are going to have to miss out on such an amazing opportunity that can give them the skills they will need in life, something that Colleges struggle to offer.”

In Amy’s Change.org petition, the Year 13 student praised the department soon to be amputated from the school: “Our sixth form is like a miniature community for creative and academic students,” she said.

“Students choose this sixth for because of the second chances for GCSEs, the work experience and life skills that we learn, for the amazing teachers who dedicate their time to each and every individual and for the amazing feel of community and support that every student receives.

“We’ve done so much for students and the local community, we even pull together charity events for children in Gambia... Now we`re asking for your help.

“Please Help our students and our community win back the only place that they have ever felt so at home.”

Maggie Throup has also promised to take the school to the Education secratary Nicky Morgan to plea for funding to keep Year 12’s at the school for their final year.

Sign the Change.org petition here.

Change.org