Following an announcement earlier this morning (Tuesday) from the Department for Education that the Isle of Wight Studio School will close in summer 2019, Isle of Wight politicians share their responses.
Labour: “A genuine crisis in education”
Isle of Wight Labour’s parliamentary spokesperson, Julian Critchley told OnTheWight,
“This is a sad day for the children and teachers at the Studio School. This government has messed around with state schools in this country for eight long years, and has cut real-terms funding year on year, to the extent that we now have a genuine crisis in education, of which the Studio School is just the latest casualty.
“The Studio School concept was promoted by the Government as part of its desired “marketplace” in education. Yet markets involve failure as well as success, and schools should never be set up to fail, which is essentially what the Government have done, with 26 Studio Schools, and many more “Free Schools” closing all over the country. Public services like education are far too important to allow children’s education to be treated as collateral damage just to sustain a so-called marketplace.
“Michael Gove, and his successor Tory education ministers, have a lot to answer for. But as ever, it’s not they who will suffer the failures of their ridiculous ideology, but the children whose education has been so disrupted. I can only hope that the students and staff at the Studio School are able to continue with their education and their careers with the minimum of disruption.”
LibDem: “Why is local opinion ignored?”
Leader of the Isle of Wight Liberal Democrats Nick Stuart, told OnTheWight,
“While the DFE decision is no surprise it throws up some sharp questions.
“Why is local opinion ignored?
“Why did the Council fail to support local choice?
“It plays straight into the Council agenda of one academic 6th form centre on the island, one approach to academic learning and no local choice. And we wonder why we have the highest level of home schooling in England and a failure to fully focus on all the other skills needed for a modern workforce.”
Green: “A devastating blow “
Isle of Wight Green Party, Vix Lowthion
“The government’s decision to close our Studio School is a devastating blow for the teachers, parents and young people, who remained positive and committed to the school throughout the last few difficult weeks.
“The Island has lost a school which offered a unique approach to preparing teenagers for adult life. Whilst our other Island schools are doing all they can above and beyond the academic curriculum, it was the ability of the Studio School to shape school life to fit the needs of the pupils which really made a massive difference to those lucky enough to enter its doors.
“The headteacher, Richard White, has been an inspirational leader and his team are to be commended for all the hard work and time they have given to enriching the lives of young people on the Island.
“The Conservative government have again let down the children of the island through mismanagement and interference in our schools. Nationally they have wasted over £23 million on opening and then closing Studio Schools such as ours. It’s not only an incredible waste of money to withdraw their support, but a huge loss to the community of the Isle of Wight.”
IWC: “Fully understand decision”
Isle of Wight Cabinet member for education, Cllr Paul Brading, said:
“I fully understand why the minister has come to this decision.
“While I am supportive of providing high quality technical education on the Island, the Studio School has only managed to attract small numbers of students.
“I gather the Academy Trust and the Department for Education have looked hard at the finances during the listening period but have come to the conclusion it is not financially viable.
“I am pleased to hear the Studio School will remain open until the summer of 2019 so all current students can complete their education.
“I am aware that some parents were considering starting their children there this September which will no longer be possible.
“Should those parents wish to discuss their options, I would encourage them to contact our admissions team on 01983 823455.”
Ward Cllr: “Narrow privatised model … failing Island children”
Ward councillor for Whippingham and Osborne, Cllr Julia Baker-Smith, told OnTheWight,
“I am deeply saddened about the announcement that the Studio school is to be closed. The Conservative government’s unwillingness to consider alternatives that don’t fit their narrow privatised model, that puts public money into private hands, is once again failing Island children.
“I have been so impressed by the young people from the school who have shown such resilience and spoken out so eloquently in defence of their school. I believe we have seen some emerging politicians of the future and I hope they continue to stand up for what they believe in.”
Ward councillor for East Cowes, Cllr Karl Love, told OnTheWight,
“It’s incredibly disappointing for everyone involved, especially as this school is often seen as a sanctuary for many pupils who are failing to thrive in other schools.
“I gave countless stories, repeated many times, about how this school has changed pupils’ families life. I have grave concern where it leaves them now.
“The parents and supporters have fought a great campaign and if more than 20,000 petition signatures can’t make a difference, then I don’t know what will or democracy is about?”
Parents: “Severely let down … by people in power”
Sharon Lake and Amy Lockwood from the Save Our Studio School campaign told OnTheWight,
“This decision, whilst disappointing was not unexpected.
“We believe that the Isle of Wight Studio School has been severely let down over the past few weeks by people in power; not only by our local representatives and MP, but over the past 18 months by the Inspire Academy Trust and Governors. There has been a total lack of transparency since they made the decision to identify a MAT at the end of 2016. Discussions have been held behind closed doors, without involving parents, public and the local community in any meaningful way.
“For all its faults AET did have the common decency to establish its own listening period in order for parents and the community to be alerted to possible issues and to consider options for Sandown Bay Academy before going to the Department for Education; with subsequent listening periods held by both the Council and Department for Education where feasibility studies on viable alternative options were considered and consulted on.
“The Inspire Academy Trust has not provided us with this opportunity, choosing instead to go straight to a route for closure. This has left parents and supporters with very little time to come to terms with the announcement of the proposal, let alone look at options and feasibility studies to secure its future.
“The OFSTED report has not been a surprise to us; it would appear that the Trust and subsequently governors have lost interest in monitoring and contributing to the school in any meaningful way.
“The fact that the area of the school which the governors/Trust have little involvement; namely ‘Personal development, behaviours and welfare’ has been identified as ‘Good’ is not a surprise and is purely down to the dedicated leadership and commitment of the Head and teachers/staff and the amazing students that attend this school.
“The closure of the IWSS will be a great loss to the young people of this Island.
“We have been humbled by the support and encouragement that has received from the local community, businesses, education establishments, groups and organisations who recognise that there is a need for such a school on the Island. This has provided us with numerous possible options for a way forward in which a small group of interested parties from a range of backgrounds intends to evaluate a proposal for a way forward in the not too distant future.”
9.45 added comment from Nick Stuart
10.30 added comment by Vix Lowthion and Paul Brading
12.12 added comment by Julia Baker-Smith
12.30 added comment by Sharon Lake and Amy Lockwood
13.02 added comment by Karl Love