LIPA slams government for leaving children in ‘limbo’

The founder of Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts today said their children were being left in an "appalling limbo" over Department for Education delays to approve their secondary school status.

LIPA wants to start teaching children from the ages of 11-16, but is awaiting answers to its applications.

It currently has a higher education college, a primary school and a sixth form, but is keen to open a facility for those starting secondary school.

But two applications have proved problematic despite the government agreeing LIPA is "well placed both financially and practically" to launch a secondary school immediately.

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LIPA was hoping to send Year 7 and 8 pupils into a temporary home in their primary school, with future plans to build a new secondary school in years to come.

But with September just six months away, up to 52 children and their parents are unsure about where they will be attending in the autumn.

LIPA Chief Executive and Principle Mark Featherstone-Witty

LIPA said the government delay was posing problems around finding and recruiting new teachers, adding to stress and uncertainty, and making children having to subscribe for less attractive alternatives.

Sir Mark Featherstone-Witty, OBE, founder of LIPA, told the ECHO: "We would like the Department for Education to hurry up.

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"Year 7 children are going through an appalling period, and without this delay, they wouldn't have had to do so.

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"We would like clarity as soon as possible, children and their families shouldn't be treated like this.

"LIPA submitted an application about a year ago, and then another in December, and it was suggested by the DofE themselves we go for 'significant change' status, with Year 7 and 8 in the primary school building, but we are yet to get a response."

A LIPA spokesman added: "The response from the DfE on this application is now well overdue, leaving the school, parents, head teacher and pupils angry, upset and in limbo.

Liverpool Institute For Performing Arts(LIPA),on Mount Street.

"The Department’s inaction comes as no surprise, following a recent report commissioned by the National Audit Office that criticised its sluggishness to produce a plan for schools during the pandemic.

"The DofE has agreed that LIPA is well placed both financially and practically to launch a secondary school immediately, so all that is needed is the final green light.

"With September around the corner, concerns are mounting."

Ruth Murphy, whose daughter Violet has been with LIPA primary since its inception 7 years ago, said: "I've been taken aback by the camaraderie shown by the pupils, parents and staff.

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"But we are all “at a loss” at this point and are sick of waiting for answers."

A DfE spokesperson said: “The Department is progressing an application to provide secondary education from Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts which we received this month. Representatives from the Department met with the trust this week, setting out the information needed before the application can be taken further.”