School for excluded pupils is given the go-ahead
CONTROVERSIAL plans to open a free school for children with behavioural problems will go ahead after planning permission was granted by the council.
The Fermain Academy, which is scheduled to open in September, will now be able to operate from the Fermain Centre on Oxford Road.
The school, which is backed by the Cheshire Youth Foundation (CYF), will provide alternative teaching for up to 40 students between the ages of 13 and 16 who have been excluded from main- stream education, and will employ 14 staff.
The centre, which will be based at the former site of the recently closed iMacc Youth Club, has been used for teaching since 2009, when the Macclesfield Youth Achievement Foundation began to provide alternative education for pupils referred from six secondary schools in the area.
Chris Hindley, chairman of the school’s board of governors, said: “The Fermain Academy will see over £1.6m of inward investment flow into Macclesfield, and will provide outstanding education to students in Macclesfield over the years to come.”
Free schools are new state-funded schools, inspected by Ofsted, but independent of local authority control.
The Fermain Academy is one of 38 free schools across the country which were approved last year.
Jim Bissett, chairman of the CYF, said: “This is great for the people of Macclesfield. We will now undertake some modifications of the building ready for 30 new students in September.”
However, several local residents have criticised the plans, with 15 people making official objections prior to permission being granted.
Concerns raised include issues with access and parking, the closure of the youth club and worries that levels anti-social behaviour could increase.
But Mr Bissett said: “I do not anticipate any problems. There will only be 30 pupils coming and going, so traffic won’t be like at a school of 3,000.”
Liz Burns, who lives next-door-but-one to the centre, said many residents are planning to challenge the decision.
She said: “I do agree with having the school, but the fact is that this is the wrong location. The middle of a residential area is not the right place. “Access is really difficult, with only a single track road which is in a really bad state. If they can’t maintain the road now, how are they going to with the extra traffic?”
‘I do not anticipate any problems. There will only be 30 pupils’