MP calls for action over Future Education
A Norwich MP last night called for funding to be made available to ensure current pupils could finish their qualifications at Future Education and its long-term existence was secured.
Simon Wright, MP for Norwich South, visited Future Projects yesterday after it emerged Norfolk County Council had not awarded Future Education on Motum Road a contract for alternative education.
Current parents and students at Future Education face uncertainty about their future after Norfolk County Council gave the contract for alternative education to CfBT Include.
Mr Wright said it was a 'unique' school which should could continue to work with vulnerable teenagers.
'There does need to be a longer term funding solution that isn't wholly reliant on county council contracts', he said. 'A free school provision could be an attractive model for an education model that is doing something unique.'
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He said that the county council needed to have a 'very serious look' for a solution to support the organisation so it could exisit in the long term.
'Future are doing fantastic work across the board and it's an invaluable charity for promoting higher aspirations in the area and all the other benefits that go along with the work that it is doing that are so valuable to Norwich and the wider community.
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He also criticised Norfolk County Council for the way they had handled the process.
He met one parent Emma Bryant who said she had only found out Future Education had not got the contract from her son Kurt Nelson who was taking part in an activity fortnight before he was due to start in September.
The 14-year-old, was excluded from one school and said he had wanted to join the school in September and was disappointed that he wasn't going to be able to.
Mr Wright said: 'Although a tendering process will have a certain amount of confidentiality parents need to be kept up to date at every stage. It is now an imperative on the part of the county council that parents are kept informed.'
The issue was also raised at a meeting of Norfolk County Council yesterday, when Stephen Little, Green county councillor for Town Close ward, asked why the funding had been withdrawn from Future.
Alison Thomas, Cabinet Member for Children's Services, said: 'We have already said that we want to work with Future to ensure that young people in year 10 can continue to receive their support. We have been trying to hold urgent talks for two weeks to reach a solution but so far Future has not been forthcoming in agreeing a date to meet. However, we are hopeful that they will meet with us soon so that we can provide certainty for students and ensure that young people currently in Year 10 can finish their GCSEs. We continue to value the very good work that Future does providing specialist support to this group of young people and want to see how we can continue to work with them in the future.
'This is not about cutting support to young people needing alternative provision. We are maintaining the budget in this area and spending �4.5m over the next three years to support alternative education for young people in years 10 and 11. However, we need to get the best value for money and best outcomes for young people from these contracts - which is why we have retendered our contracts.
'This was a rigorous and fair tendering process and decisions were made by a panel that included parents, young people and an educational psychologist, who closely considered the needs of individual children.
'CfBT Include is a charity which already has a strong local presence in Norwich and has also been judged good by Ofsted. We are confident that that they can deliver very good provision to children across the whole county.'
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