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People in Norwich urged to support vital city school

PUBLISHED: 08:43 06 August 2011 | UPDATED: 09:21 08 August 2011

Fourteen year old Kurt Nelson at the Future Education Project that he was hoping to attend from September pictured with Norwich South M.P Simon Wright on his visit to the scheme that is under threat.; Photo : Steve Adams

Fourteen year old Kurt Nelson at the Future Education Project that he was hoping to attend from September pictured with Norwich South M.P Simon Wright on his visit to the scheme that is under threat.; Photo : Steve Adams

Archant 2011

People in Norwich are today urged to show their support for a vital city school as politicians face questions over a decision to cut council funding at the nationally-praised and successful pioneering project.

Evening News Mission Statement

Future Education has given a proper academic schooling to some of the most challenging children in Norwich.

Just a few years ago Norfolk County Council worked with Future to set up the school and highlighted its vital role in the community. In 2006 Future and the council secured money from the East of England Development Agency to build the school, which has been praised by Ofsted.

Now the school could close after a council proposal to withdraw its academic contract. The dedicated staff at the project, pupils and the charity must be given assurance over their long-term future and be able to continue their vital work here in Norwich.

The school provides good value for money and, most importantly, results.

The Evening News is calling on Norfolk County Council to reinstate the academic contract for Future Education so it can continue to do its unique work for our children.

To support the campaign tell us why Future Education should be saved on Twitter by using the hash tag #saveourfuture, “like” Future Education on Facebook or write to eveningnewsletters@archant.co.uk

Parents of children at the west Norwich school plan to march on County Hall on Monday, where a meeting will discuss the funding plans, and the wider community was today urged to add its voice to the campaign to change the council’s mind.

As the Evening News reported last week, Norfolk County Council has decided to withdraw a contract for academic education which Future Projects provides for more than 20 children at its Motum Road base. The charity was set up in 2000 by two local mums in response to anti-social behaviour in the west Norwich area.

After proving successful in turning youngsters away from crime and bad behaviour, Future opened a school after securing funding and, in 2008, began teaching 28 children with behavioural difficulties who had been expelled from local schools. The following year it registered with Ofsted as an independent special school for children with emotional, social and behaviour difficulties and/or a statement of special educational needs.

This year Norfolk County Council has axed the contract, and Future Projects says its loss will have significant implications for the community and children across Norwich.

The county council says the contract was for 10 places and claims existing facilities throughout Norfolk can meet the needs of the children, either through short-stay school (formerly the pupil referral unit), special schools, mainstream schools, or commissioned services.

Parent Marianne Kane is just one of those who will be attending Monday’s meeting. Her 15-year-old son, Jake, was excluded from a number of schools when he became a known trouble-maker but Future Education transformed his life. He has just finished Year 10 at Future Education, but faces uncertainty about what will happen to him in Year 11.

She will be asking the cabinet questions about her son’s education.

She said: “It is nice to see the support and we’ve had. We have even had support from the United States. A lot of people are passionate about it.”

She said she would be asking about the qualifications her son would be receiving. “We want to see as many people as possible at Monday’s meeting.”

Norwich South MP Simon Wright has called on Norfolk County Council to look at reinstating the contract.

“That is clearly the strongest outcome for Future”, he said. “It is something the council should be actively exploring at this stage to see what is necessary.

“If that cannot happen we need to know very very soon how provision at Future will continue.”

Daniel Childerhouse, spokesman for Future Projects, said today: “We really appreciate the support from the public and politicians. The backing shows the value of what we offer because these are the voices of people who have friends and family who Future has helped over the years.

“The fact that these people have the confidence to speak up for something which is important to them is testament to the school’s success. These people understand the value of Future Projects because they have benefited directly, this is something the tender process cannot recognise.

“We understand politicians are there to enforce the will of the people and this show of support is democracy at its best and shows a clear commitment to community empowerment and localism.”

Evening News editor Tim Williams said: “It would seem to be a very short-sighted decision because the charity is a fantastic community project which has a proven track record in delivering equality education.

“Over the years it has been praised by successive home secretaries. There is no better definition of the Big Society in action than this sort of schooling for challenging children, who, after all our the future of Norwich.

If you are unable to attend the meeting on Monday, at 10.30am at County Hall, Martineau Lane, Norwich, staff and parents at Future have suggested people can contact their local MP or county councillor for Norwich.

Chloe Smith can be emailed at chloe@chloesmith.org.uk, and Simon Wright at office@simonwright.org.uk.

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