Ex-headteacher backs parents in Gosport school move row

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A FORMER headteacher of a primary school where councillors want to build a centre for troubled teenagers has hit out against the plans.

Alan Jackson, who ran Woodcot Primary School in Gosport, for 14 years, said he was ‘horrified’ about the scheme.

Hampshire County Council wants to move the Quayside Education Centre – for 11 to 16-year-olds who have been excluded from school or are considered too emotionally vulnerable for mainstream education – from St Vincent College to Woodcot.

Angry parents have staged protests against the £4m plans, fearing it would put their children at risk and disturb people who live nearby.

Earlier this month, Gosport Borough Council’s planning board unanimously agreed to tell the county council the site was not ideal and another one should be found.

Now ex-headteacher Mr Jackson, of Marine Parade East, in Lee-on-the-Solent, has added his voice to the objections.

He said: ‘I was horrified when I heard about the plans.

‘The Quayside Centre on this site would be wrong for the primary school and wrong for the residential area.

‘I question whether in this day and age they should be contemplating spending £4m on these youngsters.

‘I would hope the county councillors take heed of the planning board at Gosport Borough Council who opposed the decision unanimously.

‘Woodcot was a lovely school and I enjoyed every minute I spent there.’

Hampshire County Council says it would stagger school starting times to segregate the pupils.

And it says it would not be possible to redevelop the current St Vincent site.

The council said putting it in the grounds of a secondary school would also be difficult because excluded pupils are banned from the site of whichever school they are expelled from.

Mr Jackson, who was the headteacher of Woodcot Primary from 1974 until 1988, added: ‘The suggestion that school hours could be staggered is, to me, an admission of the fact problems were anticipated.

‘Older residents will recall in the late 70s a similar unit was housed in the huts of the former Woodcot Infant School in Lapthorn Close.

‘There was utter chaos with youngsters running wild.’

Hampshire County Council’s regulatory committee will make its decision about whether to go ahead with the plans today.

More than 600 people have signed a petition against the proposals and concerned parents are expected to speak out at the meeting.