23rd Sep, 2018

Campaign calls on academy chiefs to reinstate 'cherished' courses at a Solihull sixth-form

Felix Nobes 30th Aug, 2018 Updated: 30th Aug, 2018

STUDENTS, parents and staff have joined forces in a campaign to reinstate cancelled courses at a Solihull sixth-form for students with learning difficulties – while councillors have demanded answers over the loss of funding.

A demonstration was held outside the former K2 Learning building on Saturday after more than 100 students were told their courses had been axed – only days after being enrolled.

Confusion remains over why the pre-apprenticeship courses offered at K2 Learning – a separate faculty of the sixth form at CTC Kingshurst Academy (CTC) – suddenly lost their funding.

CTC – and therefore K2 – merged with Tudor Grange Academy, forming the Tudor Grange Academies Trust (TGAT) as of August 1.

Management at TGAT told the Observer it had been unable to secure funding for K2 as part of the transfer within the ‘timescale’ of the merger.

The Observer is awaiting responses to several questions from TGAT.

Kingshurst and Fordbridge Labour councillor David Cole heard the frustrations of parents and staff at the demonstration.

They demanded the council act to prevent the loss of what they perceive to be indispensable learning provision in the borough.

Coun Cole said: “The sudden closure of this well known and cherished learning facility for students with social and learning difficulties has sent shockwaves through the community of Solihull.

“The CTC Kingshurst Academy has merged in to the TGAT without advanced warning and without meaningful public consultation – this was quickly followed by an announcement that the K2 Training Centre was to close.

“The manner of how this happened has not been explained to students and their parents. The closure can only be due to financial concerns.”

K2 supported students who have special educational needs or disabilities (SEND) or had been excluded from or did not fit into mainstream education.

Lead campaigner Cirian-Marie Beddoes said: “Families and pupils in Solihull have just been informed that places secured to provide a supportive learning environment have been stopped with no explanation.

“Over 200 students and families have been told they no longer have a future, no longer have a ‘safe place’ to receive the education they need when they were due to start this September.

“We need your support to keep K2 provision fully funded now and in the future.”

Green councillor Mark Wilson, who also attended the demonstration, said: “I am dismayed to learn the K2 Learning facility has been refused funding by TGAT.

“It is to close and the signage on their buildings has already been taken down.

“Now there are perfectly good, but empty learning facilities, gathering dust on site.

“The timing of the decision is completely unacceptable. I’m also concerned what the this may do to the educational progress of these students.

“They need to come clean. I hope Solihull council supports students and their families who are affected.”

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