Pupils at Blackheath Bluecoat, Greenwich, staged a silent protest on October 10th during a council staff visit against the proposed closure of the school due to government cuts. Gillian Palmer, Greenwich council’s director of children’s services who has approved the move, was met by a line of pupils who stood silently holding banners and placards as she entered the school.
The school in South London is destined to close in 2013 after a steady decline in pupil enrolment figures and, although it has recently seen improving academic results, as one councillor put it: “this has not been translated into an improvement in the perceptions of the school in the wider community”. A report presented to the council cabinet stated the school was over £1m in debt and “unsustainable” in the present economic climate.
The school’s headteacher however had a different views on the proposals: “the council’s own enrolment figures show that there are currently 838 spare secondary school places in Greenwich spread across a number of schools. It would seem that the council’s aim is to reduce this surplus by focusing it on one school and then closing it”.
It had been planned to move the school to the Greenwich Peninsula, although this fell through when the coalition government axed its predecessor’s Building Schools for the Future programme last year. An 11-week consultation period on the future of the school started on 28th September, with a final decision to be made in January next year.
Blackheath Bluecoat was the school Stephen Lawrence was studying at when he was murdered by a racist gang. Manchester United and England footballer Rio Ferdinand was also a pupil there.