Letter sent to education secretary from Thetford

PUBLISHED: 08:56 21 July 2010 | UPDATED: 14:43 02 August 2010

Stephanie Brooks

THETFORD Town Council has written to the education secretary hoping to gain his support for the town's proposed new academy.

THETFORD Town Council has written to the education secretary hoping to gain his support for the town's proposed new academy.

A special meeting was held last Wednesday to approve the contents of a letter to be sent to Michael Gove.

Councillors voted unanimously to mail the message which said an early commitment by the new coalition government was essential to maintain the momentum of the planning process.

It highlighted Thetford's legacy of poor educational performance and the levels of deprivation in the town, which could be addressed by the new facility.

The three-site academy is due to open in September in existing school buildings at Rosemary Musker and Charles Burrell with major improvements and a forum in the town centre off Bridge Street planned by 2013.

Its lead sponsor is Wymondham College, with co-sponsors coming in the form of Norfolk County Council, Easton College and West Suffolk College.

The letter reads: “Thetford Town Council writes to you in full support of the proposed Thetford Academy, which is a well-considered vision for the future of education in the town.

“Thetford Town Council has been a partner in promoting the vision, ably expressed by David Lawrence on behalf of Easton College, a joint sponsor of the academy. The consultation process for the academy is well advanced and focused around a September 2010 start. An early commitment by the new coalition government is essential to maintain the momentum of the whole process.

“Three out of four Thetford wards are in the top quintile of the most deprived wards for multiple deprivation in England and not just Norfolk. Thetford has for many ears languished in the bottom quartile for educational performance, with GCSE results roughly half the county average, which in turn is below the national average.”

It added: “Our understanding is that this 'third site' facility will meet the needs of those drawn to a wide range of vocational subjects. These include engineering, catering, hospitality, hair and beauty, together with a major sixth form provision (to include drama and performances).

“Unusually for a major rural town, Thetford has manufacturing employment for roughly 50pc of the available workforce. First class vocational training facilities are of course essential if this country is to work its way out of debt.”

Norfolk County Council's Cabinet has already agreed to close Rosemary Musker and Charles Burrell, subject to government backing, to pave the way for the new academy despite public consultations showing there were split opinions on the move.

New principal designate Christine Carey has been appointed to head up the venture and the rest of the senior management team is also in place.

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