Ex-Wakeman School pupils react to closure

Maggie (top) and Annabel Love on holiday in Abersoch Annabel Love has followed in her mother Maggie's footsteps at the school

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Dancing expert Maggie Love says she succeeded in the West End and spent 15 years in the US after the support she had as a Shrewsbury schoolgirl.

Now, as her 13-year-old daughter Annabel follows in her footsteps at the Wakeman School, she says she is shocked that it will shut in its 75th anniversary year.

It was earmarked for closure, in 2013, by Shropshire Council as part of wider changes to education provision. Governors appealed to the Schools Adjudicator, but lost.

Ms Love has campaigned to save the town centre school, and said Year 9 students including her daughter would be the "most seriously affected".

She said: "All her three years' work with the teachers, knowing her capabilities and personality, her possibility of being a prefect or even head girl, will be shattered. It'll be a report on a piece of paper being transferred to another school."

The adjudicator upheld the council's decision because of low pupil numbers. The co-educational school has 240 pupils aged 11 to 16 on its roll this academic year out of a capacity of 675.

Wakeman pupils - archive image Wakeman pupils have protested against plans to close the school

Ms Love said: "The people of Shropshire have thought the Wakeman would close for many years and that's why parents haven't chosen to send their children there.

"[It has been] all based on fear and rumours. There was no factual evidence at all, just parents' rumours over a number of years."

Ms Love, a parent governor in her 50s, praised the school, saying her daughter had previously been seriously bullied at primary school.

She has good memories of her own time there in the 1970s which paved the way for her work as a choreographer and lecturer.

Ms Love said:"They gave me [the chance] to do my dancing exams at my dance school during the day.

"If I hadn't had that support, I wouldn't have had the confidence to move to London at 18. I feel it'll be a great loss to Shrewsbury and to its future."

Just a short walk from the school over the English Bridge lies The Hive, a music and media centre for young people which staged an event in the summer involving current Wakeman students.

Venue manager Ellen Green, 33, is a former pupil whose father, Robert Green, also went to the Wakeman when it was a grammar school.

She said was "quite devastated" about its closure.

"Looking back it wasn't as daunting as it potentially could have been going to a larger school," she said. "To still be remembered by teachers who are still there is really touching. For me that speaks volumes."

The school has decided not to pursue free school or academy status after failing to get financial support.

David Taylor, the council's director of people's services, said it was the "right decision" for the future of education in Shropshire.

He said: "The adjudicator has recognised that there is no viable, long term alternative to the proposal.

"We appreciate that this is a difficult time for everyone and will continue to work closely with the school, pupils, parents and the wider community to support them at every step."

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