A CAMPAIGNER has called for an investigation into the welfare of students with special needs and excluded youngters who had their courses axed at a Solihull sixth form.
Cirian-Marie Beddoes demonstrated with other parents, staff and students in an attempt to save vocational courses previously offered by the now closed K2 Learning facility.
More than 100 students were left in limbo after K2 closed and almost all have now enrolled on alternative courses or found employment or training.
But many campaigners and students still bemoan the loss of what they perceive to be indispensable learning provision in the borough.
K2 was a separate faculty of the sixth form at CTC Kingshurst Academy (CTCKA) and it suddenly lost its funding only days after students were enrolled on courses for September.
K2 provided education for students who have special educational needs or disabilities (SEND) or had been excluded from or did not fit into mainstream education.
CTCKA – and therefore K2 – merged with Tudor Grange Academy due to ‘educational and leadership challenges’, forming the Tudor Grange Academies Trust (TGAT) as of September 1.
TGAT apologised for the timing of the decision and pledged to ensure all students found appropriate alternative provision.
But Ms Beddoes has questioned whether those who played a role in the closure can guarantee the new courses can emulate those provided by K2.
She said: “We need an independent investigation into where these pupils are and how they are getting on.
“Finding new places was not the whole ‘deal’.
“Finding places is not the measure of success after these kids lost the specialist support they had at K2.
“The provision that K2 provided assured that, not only places were found, but that these pupils actually were able to find an environment that suited them and supported their specialist needs.
“We want to know not just where these pupils are but how they are actually getting on.”
She has called on Dame Caroline Spelman MP for Meriden, and Solihull council, to ensure students receive continuing support even in their new places.
Parents were told by TGAT they could find alternative provision at Solihull College or at learning providers in Birmingham.
A former staff member told us the alternative provision offered would not be sufficient in the eyes of many parents and students.
Many former students had left Solihull College and joined K2 in the search for more appropriate schooling.
He said other students would not find it convenient to travel to Birmingham for school.
An ‘interim’ funding arrangement was offered to TGAT to save K2 by the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) – a government body which administers funding to schools.
But TGAT said it was it was told negotiations over a funding agreement for K2 could take up to a year.
It said due to the legal complexity of the situation it would have delayed the transfer which was unacceptable given the urgent need for students at CTC Kingshurst to merge by September 1.