Discuss: A new school proposed for Wirksworth

In schools like Anthony Gell, a great deal of time is devoted to meeting the needs of the students who are part of our school right now.

Tuesday, 23rd January 2018, 3:12 pm
Updated Tuesday, 23rd January 2018, 3:15 pm
Head of Anthony Gell School Wirksworth Malcolm Kelly
Head of Anthony Gell School Wirksworth Malcolm Kelly

Our efforts are very much focussed on doing the best we can in order to assist every individual in our care and help each to realise and fulfil their true potential. This can be demanding and does require a huge amount of hard work from all of the adults who work in the school. With this level of focus we can, if we’re not careful, be guilty of not looking too far into the future in terms of what might the provision be for children who are still many years away from becoming students at Anthony Gell.

I was reminded of this when I was asked recently to contribute my views to a consultation happening in Wirksworth and the surrounding areas. This consultation, driven by Derbyshire County Council (DCC), is asking us to consider (among other things) what the schools in Wirksworth might look like in the future. The council is asking that particular question as a result of there being potentially 700+ more houses built in Wirksworth over the next 25 years.

It has become all too clear that decisions will possibly be made in the next year or so which won’t impact too much on the education received by the children and young people in school today - but will very much impact on the education their children receive in the future. The consultation documentation refers to the possibility of a new primary school being built in Wirksworth and asks us to consider the type of school this should be as well as where a new school would be located.

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I, along with many others, have asked the council to extend the period of consultation regarding the future of education in Wirksworth. We believe there has to be adequate time for careful consideration and detailed discussion surrounding how we can continue to provide the children in this part of the Derbyshire Dales with education that best meets their needs and that of the world in which they will inhabit.

Those of us who attended a recent meeting in Wirksworth Town Hall also reminded representatives of DCC about the possible impact of a new school in Wirksworth on other nearby schools. There are several schools outside of the town but in close proximity to it who could be affected by a change to the educational landscape in Wirksworth. We stressed the importance of including others in a meaningful discussion.

A decision to build a brand new school in a particular area doesn’t happen very often. Any new school is therefore likely to have to accommodate the needs of the families in and around Wirksworth for the next 100 to 150 years. All the more reason therefore to get it right. All the more reason to involve as many stakeholders as possible and give them the time they need to make an informed choice.