§ Lord Cocks of Hartcliffe
asked Her Majesty's Government:
Whether the Paymaster General, when launching the Government's Annual Report in Bristol on 13 July, explained how the closure of Merrywood School, Knowle West, Bristol, improved the educational opportunities for the children of Knowle West. [HL3430]
§ Baroness Blackstone
As the noble Lord is aware, the Annual Report describes, amongst other factors, the Government's progress in improving standards of education. It also underlines our commitment to ensure "high standards are met in every school and college" so that "the talents of all can be developed to the full".
My right honourable Friend the Secretary of State's decision to approve the proposals to close Merrywood fully accords with this commitment. In reaching his decision, the Secretary of State was mindful of the fact that Merrywood has been in special measures since April 1997. Since going into special measures, OFSTED has undertaken seven monitoring visits. Despite this, the school has still not made sufficient improvements to be removed from special measures. Numbers on roll are low, attendance levels are low and academic achievement is the lowest in the LEA. As a result, the small number of pupils displaced by the 76WA school's closure will be likely to benefit by accessing a better standard of education through attending alternative schools.