School closure to go ahead amid falling student numbers

THE smallest secondary school in York will shut after councillors agreed the controversial closure amid dwindling student numbers.

York Council has decided to push ahead with the plans to close Burnholme Community College, despite a passionate 11th hour plea from students in a bid to keep the site open.

There were emotional scenes at the council’s cabinet meeting on Tuesday evening when one tearful student made emotional representations to members.

But councillors decided to push ahead with the closure, after the college has seen declining numbers of students in recent years.

Just 40 students have applied for a place at the college for the start of the new academic year in September - giving a total of only 270 potential students across all year groups.

At least £580,000-a-year would need to be found by the council to allow the college to continue to operate, at a time when the authority is having to make major cutbacks amid the Government’s austerity drive. The council is faced with having to make £19.7m in savings across all its services over the next two years.

A phased closure of the college has now been agreed by the council before the site is due to close in 2014.

More than 170 students in years nine, 10 and 11 will continue their studies at the college, with the remaining 114 students in lower years being moved to neighbouring schools.

The council last reviewed the position at the college three years ago, when the local authority and other schools agreed to support a business plan proposed by the governing body.

The business plan sought to increase the number of pupils applying for school places at the college.

But the council confirmed the college has been unable to secure the necessary pupil numbers.

The Yorkshire Post revealed in February that senior staff had made a passionate plea to parents to help keep the college going by choosing to send their children there.

The assistant headteacher, Graham Reagan, called on parents who had decided to choose other schools as their first choice to change their minds.