School for ex­cluded pupils is given the go-ahead

Macclesfield Express - - FRONT PAGE - BETH CUN­NING­HAM beth.cun­ning­ham@trin­i­tymir­ @El­iz­a­bethAmy91

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’

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