Last piece of the £100m BSF programme for Fenland falls into place with opening of new school in Wisbech
- Credit: Archant
The last piece of the £100m Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme in Fenland concluded with the opening of the County School, Wisbech, for pupils unable to be taught in mainstream schools.
Adrian Loades, executive director for children, families and adults with the county council officially opened the £2.5m school in Coalwharf Road.
Five secondary schools in the Fens have already been either rebuilt or given massive facelifts as part of the BSF programme. The Fenland schools narrowly escaped the Government’s axe which fell on BSF soon after the last election.
“Students have been helping to organise the opening as part of their work with the Prince’s Trust programme,” said a council spokesman. “During the afternoon they gave demonstrations of their work.”
Successful completion of the school marked a milestone for the county council that had fought strong opposition to having it built so near the town centre.
The school – more commonly known as a pupil referral unit- is one of three provided by the county council in Cambridgeshire. The Wisbech site was chosen because of the unsuitability of its previous base in March.
However agreeing the two storey building became a logistical challenge for the county council, even to the point of ensuring classroom windows faced away from Somers Court, an old people’s complex, following residents concerns of overlooking.
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The school can cater for up to 35 pupils and has 16 members of staff and a shared head with two other centres in Cambridge and Huntingdon.
Among those who opposed the positioning of the school in Coalwharf Road was local councillor Simon King who presented a petition containing 241 signatures.
He told the council he “strongly objected” to the school being there and said it would “not be a good environment for the 35 pupils all of whom have been excluded (expelled) from Fenland schools”.
He also claimed the school would be out of keeping with the area, has a detrimental effect on local residents, and argued it would increase noise, crime and anti social behaviour locally.
He also felt it would lead to students being exposed to alcohol and drugs from a nearby hostel for the homeless.
However the council won approval for the scheme, pointing out that there were many reasons why students were referred to such places.
“This may be reasons such an exclusion, ill health, bullying, school phobia or pregnancy,” councillors were told. “Each local education authority has a duty to make arrangements for the provision of education for all children of compulsory age.”