A DETERMINED student is calling for sixth-form courses to be re-instated after they were cancelled at the eleventh hour – leaving over 100 youngsters in limbo.
Confusion remains over why the pre-apprenticeship courses offered at K2 Learning – a separate faculty of the sixth form at CTC Kingshurst Academy – were axed.
As the Solihull Observer reported last week, around 110 students were told only days after being enrolled on their courses at K2 they would have no school to go to in September.
K2 supports students who have special educational needs or disabilities (SEND) or had been excluded from or did not fit into mainstream education.
It provided a range of short courses including construction, childcare and IT to prepare young people for employment.
It offered alternate education for key stage four (aged 16-19) students – including around 30 young people with some form of SEND, K2 staff say.
A frustrated student at K2, Faraday Woodfield, aged 18, said: “I wish to campaign against K2 Learning being shut down. It is the only college where I have felt comfortable.
“Before I started at K2 Learning I had hardly any GCSEs and being there helped me in so many different ways.
“I was offered a place to start in September and I was so upset and hurt to hear K2 was closing down.”
She is seeking support from other students to protest.
“Before I started I had no confidence whatsoever and I never wanted to meet new people,” she said.
“But when I started at K2 I learned there was nothing to be scared of because the staff and students helped me.
“I made so many friends and one staff member worked with me to help me with my confidence and I know I could speak to her about anything.
“I think K2 being closed down should be reconsidered. It’s helped so many people and everyone at K2 is like one big family – we’re all there for each other.”
CTC Kingshurst Academy – and therefore K2 – merged with Tudor Grange Academy, forming the Tudor Grange Academies Trust as of August 1.
All 18 staff members at K2 could lose their jobs while the 12 qualified teachers could become teaching assistants at TGAT.
Shocked staff said they did not see the decision coming and that it was ‘out of their hands’.
The new 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.
A spokesperson said: “When an academy transfers into a Multi Academy Trust a new funding agreement is produced.
“We were able to secure funding for CTC Kingshurst as an 11 to 18 academy (from the government’s Department for Education) as there is a model funding agreement used nationally for academies.
“However, there is not a model funding agreement that could be used for a provision like K2 to transfer into a new trust, and it is unclear how long it would have taken to secure this.”
Staff members are questioning whether this explanation is correct. They point out K2 is not a separate company and has been funded by CTC Kingshurst for 20 years.
Alan Jones, K2’s director of business, finance and human resources, said there had been a lack of communication between those involved with the merger.
He said it was the final day of term and the chief executive of Tudor Grange Academies Trust Claire McLean broke the news to staff – six days after enrolling students onto courses.
Students at the school don’t have homework, don’t wear uniform and have flexibility when it comes to their learning.
Mr Jones said alternative provision at Solihull College or at learning providers in Birmingham would not be sufficient in the eyes of many parents.
He said: “It’s a long way to go to Birmingham for kids round here – too far.
“And we get a lot of kids who start at Solihull College and then come to us because it’s too big and too rowdy for them to fit in.
“And to stop them becoming NEET (Not in Employment, Education or Training) they come here.”
Mr Jones apologised last week on behalf of K2, which he said was always committed to its ideals of putting misunderstood children first.
“It’s tailored to the individual student and we actively find them work placements after they finish.
“Staff do individual lessons and one-to-ones with the kids that need it.
“We have students who haven’t been in mainstream education for two, three, four years who come in and love it.
“We have had kids who suffer from high levels of anxiety and can’t get into the classroom and within a week they’re loving it.
“It’s a completely different environment and atmosphere. One which allows learners to survive to start with and then prosper.”