PLANS to close both Verdin and Woodford Lodge High Schools and replace them with an academy, moved one step closer last week as council executives voted unanymously in favour of the scheme.

In a special meeting of the Executive at Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWAC), members considered the outcome of a seven-week consultation period and decided on a stautory notice for the closure of the two high schools – moving plans for an academy into the final phase of consultation.

Tony Hooton, chairman of the governors federation in Winsford, said: “The govenors felt left out of some of the early discussions regarding the academy but over the last eight weeks we have been heavily involved and our overall view is that the academy is inevitable.

“We don’t have any alternative at the moment and something needed to be done with the falling number of children being educated in the town.

“I have had extensive discussions with the academy trust and I’m very optimistic about what they are saying and I want to make this work.

“We want a fresh start with a new building but my top priority is to vastly improve academic standards in the Winsford, concentrating on the traditional school curriculum and re-establishing a sixth form in the town.”

However concerns were raised at the meeting last Wednesday, April 28, over the lack of information available to parents.

Three requests for information were made to the academy sponsors from CWAC but were unsuccessful because of a ban on information during the election period. However a review of the consultation process has been requested by Winsford town councillors.

A spokesman for CWAC said:”The proposed closure of the two community schools and the establishment of an academy would increase educational choice and diversity within the extended area.

“We don’t believe there is any other alternative to meet our own requirement of education standards for every child in the district.

“The government have given us a preferential open date for September, it’s an acute timescale and we are trying to do everything to meet that.”