A HEADTEACHER has branded a plan to build a new £40 million secondary school in the city a ‘waste of money’.

Neil Morris, headteacher at Christopher Whitehead Language College in Worcester, called out council bosses for pushing to build a new secondary school before addressing the existing problems in what he called a “broken” system.

He said a decision to push ahead with the multi-million-pound work and build it close to the catchment areas of other ‘struggling’ schools was “controversial” to many of the city’s other headteachers.

READ MORE: Worcester's schools are 'broken' say headteachers

 “If I was to throw a grenade in, the secondary headteachers wonder why we need a £40 million new school?” he said at the city council’s health and wellbeing committee in the Guildhall on Monday (January 30).

Worcester News:

“We wonder if there’s the need, I wonder if it could have been an alternative school (for children who struggle in mainstream education), and that would have picked up some of the needs.

“We’re not sure there’s the need, we’re not sure there are the places and it seems a lot of money.

“There’s always been a sink school in Worcester, I [Christopher Whitehead] was that sink school for a while, Bishop Perowne is struggling at the moment, it used to be Elgar, and the placing of this school near to Bishop Perowne I think is, quite controversial.”

Worcestershire County Council revealed it would be building a new 600-place secondary school in the Newtown Road area of the city in 2021 and later announced that Oasis Community Learning, which is made up of 52 schools including Oasis Academy in Warndon, as the new school’s sponsor.

During the same meeting, Mr Morris, alongside Kate Wilcock, headteacher at Pitmaston Primary School, described the “huge problems” across the city’s schools – calling the situation “overwhelming” and the system “broken.”

Worcester News: QUESTIONS: Neil Morris, headteacher at Christopher Whitehead Language CollegeQUESTIONS: Neil Morris, headteacher at Christopher Whitehead Language College (Image: Newsquest)

The two city heads said schools were often running into debt buying food and clothes for students as absences plummeted and waiting times for mental health counselling soared.

Mrs Wilcock also described the “concerning” situation at Bishop Perowne on behalf of headteacher Jane Price who said the number of children being offered free school meals was higher than ever and increasing year-on-year.

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Worcestershire County Council said there was a definite need for more school places in the city and the plans had been drawn after “extensive” talks and consultation.

Cllr Tracey Onslow, cabinet member for education at Worcestershire County Council, said: “The building of any new school is a major project and was commissioned following extensive consultation with stakeholders and residents, the results of which were overwhelmingly positive. 

“The provision of a new school will ensure children can access a secondary school place within their local community in a growing city, as well as improving choice and access. 

“The requirement for more secondary places is evidenced by our sufficiency work, which is carried out across the county and updated on an ongoing basis, in line with NHS and census information, as well as taking into account the growth of housing developments around the city.”