Coun­cil­lors set to de­bate free school plan

Macclesfield Express - - FRONT PAGE -

CON­TRO­VER­SIAL plans to cre­ate a free school for teenagers with be­havioural is­sues will be de­bated to­day (Wed­nes­day).

The Fer­main Academy plans to op­er­ate from the Fer­main Cen­tre on Ox­ford Road, the site of the re­cently closed iMacc Youth Club.

If plans are ap­proved, 14 staff will teach up to 40 pupils ex­cluded from main­stream schools across Cheshire East. It will pro­vide up to 25 hours per week of teach­ing for pupils be­tween the ages of 13 and 16.

The open­ing hours for the school would be from 9am un­til 3pm, with staff on site from 8am un­til 5pm. The plans, which will be dis­cussed by the North­ern Plan­ning Com­mit­tee, come af­ter Mac­cles­field Youth Achieve­ment Foun­da­tion be­gan to pro­vide al­ter­na­tive ed­u­ca­tion at the cen­tre in 2009 for pupils re­ferred from six sec­ondary schools across the town.

If given the go ahead, the school, backed by Cheshire Youth Foun­da­tion (CYF), would open in Septem­ber.

Coun­cil plan­ners have re­ceived 15 ob­jec­tions from res­i­dents, mainly those from nearby Lox­ley Close, over con­cerns that the plans could re­sult in a in­crease in anti-so­cial be­hav­iour as well as traf­fic and park­ing prob­lems.

Com­ment­ing on the online ap­pli­ca­tion, Heather Row­ley, of Lox­ley Close, wrote: “Pro­vi­sion of a re­fer­ral unit such as this is of course well in­tended for the chil­dren, how­ever, the site is com­pletely in­ap­pro­pri­ate as a planned academy.”

But Jim Bis­sett, chair of the CYF, said res­i­dents should not worry.

He said: “Com­plaints that there will be anti-so­cial be­hav­iour are non­sense.

“Of course we get the odd prob­lem but noth­ing ma­jor.

“We owe it to the chil­dren of Cheshire East to pro­vide them with a top of the range school.”

The ap­pli­ca­tion states there will be ‘a mar­ginal in­crease in pupil ca­pac­ity, from 31 to 40 pupils’ once the school is fully op­er­a­tional and at ca­pac­ity in Septem­ber 2017, but that there will be enough car park­ing to ac­com­mo­date the pro­jected in­crease in pupils and staff.

Free schools are new, state-funded schools, in­spected by ed­u­ca­tion watchdog Of­sted but in­de­pen­dent of lo­cal au­thor­ity con­trol.

The school was one of 38 na­tion­ally given the go-ahead by the Prime Min­is­ter last year.

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