“Either we get satisfactory answers – or we ask for the college to be shut down!” That was the statement from one councillor at last night’s heated Draycott-in-the-Moors Parish Council meeting – and he was not the only one who felt that way. His viewpoint was backed by a majority of the members.
But what has caused this radical turn in opinion?
Well, the disgraceful scenes at the school earlier this month to be precise. A fortnight ago, it seems that individuals climbed on to the roof at the school and started tipping tiles down on to the ground below. Three police cars, and an ambulance, had to be summoned; and Draycott Old Road had to be closed off.
Unbelievably, the same scenes were repeated ten days later.
The question of what to do about Draycott Moor College was a main focus on the parish council’s agenda last night. Members of the public were there to see the debate – and to ask some pointed questions too. One resident of Draycott Old Road was blunt. He said: “… the parish council do not seem to be listening to us…”
With this kind of pressure to deal with from its own voters, the council has decided to ask representatives from the college (which is run by a private company, Horizon Care), as well as local police officers and someone from the county education authority (which funds the fees of the pupils who attend the college) to come along to a future meeting of the council to explain what they think is the best way forward.
The councillors were equally blunt though: unless, they said, they are happy with what they hear, they will formally apply to have the college closed down.
It is all such a long sad way since the college picked up a ‘Good’ rating from Ofsted in 2012.
There have been problems for some time.
The college cares for children with extreme behavioural issues, so nobody expects it to be easy – but most residents in Draycott Old Road have their own stories of being intimidated or bad-mouthed by teenagers from the school, and crime statistics websites regularly highlight incidents in the area – so, after what has recently happened, householders have clearly now had enough.
They want some questions answered…
# Why do some pupils at the school seem to be able to leave when they feel like it?
# The college was managing around twenty pupils, mostly teenagers, until recently. Now, it has expanded to thirty-six pupils and now includes a new section for primary-aged children. Why the expansion of numbers here, when discipline was already a problem?
# The college takes students from all over the county, many of whom are brought in by taxi from many miles away. Why bring all these troubled children together in one concentration?
# The old headteacher Roger Flint seems to have ‘retired’ – since when these new incidents occurred. A new headteacher, Ms Gail Norrie, seems to have been brought in to sort things out – and, to her credit, she has been open with residents. But what is her actual plan?
# The local police community support officers say they ‘recognise the problem’. But, also, what is their plan?
Watch this space.
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