Whilst the legal challenge against the closure of the High Weald Academy has come to an end, the HWA Working Group, led by Helen Grant MP, has been considering new revelations.
The group were advised by their solicitors and counsel in early January that there was no reasonable prospect of a successful Judicial Review claim. But almost on the same day, Kent County Council published their ‘Commissioning Plan for Education Provision in Kent 2022-26’. This reveals that that 6,600 school places would be needed by 2026 in the county of Kent.
Helen said ‘The Government may have given up on the High Weald Academy, but I have not given up on my firm belief that Cranbrook and the surrounding villages need a non-selective secondary school. If that means we need to create a new school from scratch, then so be it’.
‘The figures published by KCC do seem to fly in the face of their previous forecasts, which suggested there was an over-provision of school places in this area. It was a fundamental reason why they supported the closure of the HWA. I will therefore be writing to the KCC Cabinet Member for Education and Skills to ask serious questions over this issue. Among other things, the council must explain why they supported the HWA’s closure, and the ensuing mass movement of pupils to Mascalls Academy in Paddock Wood, when that school is in an area they believe will face a significant deficit in the forecast number of places available’.
‘Our HWA working group remains strong and intact and I was pleased to convene another meeting with them last Thursday to pick this over. The feeling was unanimous that we should pursue a new school and not give up, and so onward we go. The legal battle to save the HWA may be over, but the fight for a good local school continues, for the children and families of Cranbrook and our rural Wealden villages’.