Redundancies and home learning after charity closes special school

Chloe Smith MP with Philip Hinchliffe, head teacher of Catch 22 Photo: MP Chloe Smith

Catch22 headteacher Philip Hinchliffe, pictured at the opening of its Norwich site - Credit: Supplied

Teachers have been made redundant and vulnerable teenagers sent to learn from home following the closure of a charity's school in Great Yarmouth.

Catch22, a charity which provides specialist education for youngsters who do not cope well in traditional school settings, will close its site in Great Yarmouth at the end of the month.

It comes after regulators Ofsted told the charity it needed to make swift improvements to its Norfolk schools, which saw concerns raised about pupils smoking on site.

The charity currently runs three sites in Norfolk through its network Include Norfolk, one in Yarmouth, one in Norwich and one in King's Lynn - the latter of which was praised in the controversial Ofsted inspection.

But following the feedback from the watchdog, the charity has decided to go down to just running to two sites in Norwich and King's Lynn, with its Yarmouth site closed as of May 1.

Philip Hinchliffe, Catch22 headteacher, said: "These changes result from the continued review of our education offer to ensure viability and best possible outcomes for all pupils.

"The move will allow Include Norfolk to focus its staffing and resources on two well-established sites, further improving provision for all pupils.  

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"Despite the clear rationale for change there are unfortunately implications for some staff whereby three colleagues have taken redundancy. Support during this transition is being provided to all staff – across teaching, administration, and employability support. 

"All 10 pupils will continue to receive education through Catch22 Include Norfolk school for the remainder of the academic year, including arrangements for year 11 examinations which remain unaffected."

The closure will mean that for the remainder of the academic year, the school's pupils will be taught remotely, which has prompted concerns from union bosses.

Bob Groome, of the National Education Union's Norfolk district branch, said: "Specialist schools like Catch22 really are last chance saloon for these children so to be without face-to-face teaching in the final stages of their academic career does not seem right.

"Some may also have troubled home lives, so sending them back there and expecting them to be able to learn is a safeguarding concern too."