Furious parents and local councillors today blasted a school after it unveiled plans to build a ‘prison-style’ block for 12 of its most notorious troublemakers.
Tudor Grange Academy in Worcester, West Midlands – which has the second highest expulsion rate in England – has applied to convert a disused office block into an ‘alternative education’ facility.
In the first year the 720-pupil school was rebranded as an academy in 2009 to 2010, 15 students were permanently excluded.
The academy is planning to build a ‘detention wing’ two miles from the main site, next to a Job Centre – where troublemakers will be taught the core subjects under strict conditions.
Under the scheme, up to 12 pupils will be ‘rewarded’ for good behaviour with play time and be allowed to rejoin their classmates if they prove they are ‘rehabilitated’.
But some parents are not happy with the plans. One, who did not want to be named, said: ‘The school is basically intending to build a prison block for troublemakers. That’s the long and short of it.
‘Instead of expelling kids, they will be taught in a separate wing of the school where they will be treated like inmates.
‘The school says no formal plans have been made but I have heard it from several teachers that the troublemakers will be rewarded for good behaviour with playtime.
‘The phrase “rehabilitated” has also been used more than once which shows how the centre will be treated. It’s abhorrent that school children, maybe as young as 11, will be treated like criminals.’
In a planning application submitted to Worcester City Council, the school said students would benefit from ‘focused intervention appropriate to their learning and social needs’.
It was claimed this would make them less likely to be permanently excluded from the academy, as well as more employable later in life.
The planning application states the new premises will offer alternative education for pupils who have ‘struggled to access or engage with mainstream lessons’.
At least two onsite teaching staff will give students classes in mathematics, English, art, information technology, cooking and life skills in small groups.
Worcester City Council Labour councillor Alan Amos – who was the Conservative MP for Hexham in Northumberland between 1987 and 1992 – has raised concerns about the school’s plans.
He said: ‘The trouble with academies is most really want to select their intake and that’s not possible. They need to accept their fair share of students across the ability and behaviour range.
‘As a former teacher, I can quite accept that sometimes one disruptive pupil can be a real nuisance to the whole school and you have to give them the best chance of life.
‘But a school has to take the rough with the smooth and I’m concerned academies seem to take exceptional concern when they have pupils who need extra attention.’
Tudor Grange Academy has not yet commented on the plans.