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Wednesday, 10 November 2021 17:13

Closure of High Weald Academy Confirmed

Leigh Academies Trust has confirmed the closure of High Weald Academy in Cranbrook, in a press release issued today. As my previous article makes clear, I believe the decision was inevitable, but also that regrettably it is right. I am so sorry for all the families caught up in this tragedy, brought about by the failure of the leaders of the previous Brook Learning Trust who have let down the pupils of all the three schools for which they were responsible.

Sadly, the current generation of pupils at High Weald will pay a price for that failure. It is now up to Leigh to minimise the damage this will cause, as the pupils make a potentially traumatic change of school, leaving their own locality for a future education miles away, that we must assume will be a considerable improvement on what has been offered previously.

At the time of the announcement, there were around 200 pupils in Years 7-10 at the school, but this number has already fallen to just 75 as most parents have already made their own arrangements for alternatives, ahead of the plan to offer all pupils places at Mascalls School by the end of this school year. It must already appear to be a ghost school to those who remain in the new premises opened less than two years ago at a cost of some £13 million. 

High Weald 2

As proposed in the initial statement: ‘All year 10 pupils remaining at HWA for the time being will move to Mascalls Academy or another setting if preferred on 1st January 2022 when this year group will close at HWA. Pupils in years 7-9 will do the same on 1st September 2022 when all remaining year groups at HWA will close and its funding agreement is terminated by mutual agreement by the Secretary of State. All eligible year 10s joining Mascalls in January will be offered the opportunity of free transport. We are now working closely with Kent County Council to finalise these plans. We will do the same for pupils in years 7-9 ahead of next September. In addition, any pupil joining another academy at any point, whether this is Mascalls or an alternative destination, will be offered financial support for school uniform’.

I doubt if anyone will be held to account for the ridiculous decision to invest some £13 million in new premises opened just two years ago when it was already clear the school was not viable, although the Leigh Trust has made plans to utilise some of these, as explained in my previous article here.  

As for future generations of Cranbrook and District children, I explore options here. Bizarrely, for some, the best option may be Hayesbrook School in Tonbridge, which has also been run into the ground by Brook Learning Trust, and is currently over half empty, but with plenty of potential could well recover under Leigh.

I have been asked who are the people responsible for this debacle? I refer you to Companies House, via the link, where you will find the names and occupations of current and past officers of the Trust. 

Finally, my very best wishes go out to all the children of High Weald Academy, including those who have already left the school. You are caught up in a situation which is none of your making and I can only hope you are able to make the most of whatever the future holds.

Last modified on Thursday, 11 November 2021 17:47

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