A decision has been taken to close Rossmore Community College to allow the Poole school to re-open as the borough’s first academy next year.

Poole council has agreed the formalities by which the school, which has 546 pupils aged 12-18, closes on August 31, 2010.

The next day it is due to be handed over to its sponsors the Diocese of Salisbury and Bournemouth University, to become St Aldhelm’s Academy.

But concern has been raised by Liberal Democrat councillors who urged the council to retain some influence as a third sponsor, and sought undertakings it would not become a single-faith school.

“I have been a governor in the area for 23 years and am deeply concerned that the proposal will not result in improved education in the community,” said Cllr Brian Clements.

He said he admired the quality of education given by existing faith Schools but was concerned that an “evangelical approach” could become a reason for parents not wanting to send their children there.

Cllr Mike Brooke said: “Recent changes in government rulings made it easier for the council to become a third sponsor.” And concerns about new school buildings were also raised.

Anne Newton, Poole council's strategic director for children’s services, said the council had considered sponsorship at an early stage but decided on partnership.

She said the academy would welcome “all faiths and none”, and building improvements were scheduled through Building Schools for the Future by September 2013.

“The proposals we are developing are not just about new buildings, it is about raising standards and the quality of learning,” she said.

“We will need to tackle the issue of falling pupil numbers and develop a system of secondary school education that will effectively meet pupils’ needs by providing the right teaching and learning environments.

“This is the biggest investment in education for over 50 years and it will affect the lives of many thousands of young people for generations to come, so we must get it right.”

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