EXCLUSIVE: Marlwood and Castle Schools could take over Thornbury council offices
TWO top-performing schools could take over the local authority’s offices in Thornbury when they become vacant, the Gazette can reveal.
Marlwood School in Alveston and Castle School in Thornbury are in talks with South Gloucestershire Council about moving their respective sixth form centres into the Castle Street complex once staff are redeployed to Yate and Kingswood.
Although the plans are on the table, it is too early to say whether the discussion will lead to a concrete offer to turn the complex into a state-of-the-art sixth form campus, the schools have told the Gazette.
Castle School head teacher Melanie Warnes said: "When we became aware that the council offices in Thornbury were vacated we expressed an interest in holding exploratory conversations with the council about these buildings.
"We have incredibly high expectations of our students. They deserve to learn in buildings that are fit for a 21st century education. I will explore any opportunities in order to achieve that ambition."
Castle School’s post-16 centre has been in need of serious repairs for years. Mrs Warnes applied for a share of the government Schools Building Programme in 2011 but the bid was rejected.
Following the setback the school explored new ways to improve the facilities for its pupils.
Last year, the head teacher met with ministers at Whitehall to make the school’s case for new facilities.
Funding for sixth formers is significantly lower than for their peers at GSCE level, with approximately £3,000 less per student.
Additional budget cuts for post-16 studies led the schools, which are both in the process of becoming academies, to join forces to offer, they said, the best provision possible to their sixth-formers.
Keith Geary, head teacher at Marlwood School, said: "Marlwood School is committed to working with Castle to find the best ways of ensuring the broadest range of high quality courses for the students at both schools.
"This year, for example, Marlwood is pleased to be running A-level Spanish for Castle students."
The school's proposals could derail the council's plans to keep a one-stop shop in the building.
It had also been suggested that beat officers might take up office in the complex after the police station's closure.
A council spokesman said: "We have been actively seeking tenants for the vacant space and have held discussions with a number of organisations regarding this and other potential options for the building.
"We remain committed to keeping a presence in Thornbury including our one-stop shop service currently located at the Castle Street office."