Parents demand answers over schools merger plan

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

Parents of pupils at the Ormiston Ilkeston Academy had their chance to quiz school bosses over proposals to merge two academies.

Around 100 people were at a meeting on Thursday night to hear about the plans to merge the King George Avenue school with the Ormiston Enterprise Academy in Cotmanhay.

NILA 02-10-12 BE 15 The Ormiston ilkeston school, academy.

NILA 02-10-12 BE 15 The Ormiston ilkeston school, academy.

Emotions ran high as parents and campaigners quizzed the chair of governors, Angela Preston, corporate finance director, prinicipals Tracey Dundas and Eddie De Middelaer, along with other members of the Ormiston team.

A parent, with a daughter at Ormiston Ilkeston Academy, said: “This whole process has cast a massive shadow over this and Bennerley School.

“If I was a parent faced with deciding where my daughter would be going for her secondary education I would not pick here. Where does that leave existing students? If people choose not to come here or to Bennerley next year the amount of money available to the school falls and our children miss out.”

Another parent, who did not want to be named, asked the panel: “What have you done to run this school into the ground?

“What’s changed since before you took on these schools and told the parents there weren’t any financial issues?”

Mr Nye answered: “We have done nothing to cause this situation, if we had not taken over at Ormiston Enterprise when we did than you would be facing a worse situation.

“The school was facing closure when we took over, if we hadn’t have done so you would have had a very similar problem.”

Anti-merger campaigner, Wendy Phillips, asked: “If Ormiston were in this for the long run why did they only take out a three year lease on the Bennerley site?”

Mr Nye explained: “We were told we would not be given the option of taking out the normal 125 year lease until after the major refurbishment work had been completed, so not until after the £7.4m had been spent on the site.”

Bennerley parents who also attended the meeting remained angry that their children would have to travel to the Ilkeston site and repeated their concerns that closing their school would affect the community.

Alison Gilbert, who has a son at the school and another due to start there next year, said: “We need that school, Cotmanhay needs that school.

“The community will suffer without it and so will our children’s education.”