South Gloucestershire’s Conservative administration has come under pressure to say what impact a new college might have on neighbouring schools.
Labour councillors representing the Filton and Patchway areas are seeking assurances about future educational provision following the recent bid for a University Technology College (UTC) for 14 to 19 year olds to be located on land adjoining Abbeywood Community School.
The local UTC bid is backed by UWE and employers such as Rolls Royce and Airbus. However, Labour councillors are concerned that the council’s ruling Tories cannot give assurances about the level of consultation with existing secondary schools. They point to the proximity of so many other education providers and a likely excess of local secondary places at the point when the UTC is supposed to open.
Cllr Eve Orpen (Labour, Patchway) comments:
“At the recent Full Council meeting I asked the Tory schools’ chief what impact the UTC would have on existing schools. I received no direct answer to this except that ‘pupil numbers are expected to increase’. The council needs to do better than that to make sure all local schools and colleges – old and new – thrive.”
Her colleague Cllr Sam Scott (Labour, Patchway) adds:
“We want to see the UTC project have greater involvement with our existing secondary schools. Specifically we want the Patchway Community College site to be considered as the location as it was unable to move ahead with a proposed rebuild after the Tory-led government abandoned the Building Schools for the Future programme. We are concerned about the local authority’s lack of control, especially if the UTC’s admissions policy might have a detrimental impact on local education providers, particularly those in the Concorde Partnership of local schools and colleges.”