Councillors set to debate free school plan
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.