CAMPAIGNERS opposing the amalgamation of two secondary schools have launched a report claiming that plans are flawed and suggesting alternative action.

Headteachers and governors at the town's six secondary schools and Harlow Schools Consortium have released the Harlow Report in response to Essex County Council plans to merge Stewards and Passmores Schools.

Compiled by campaigners since school review plans were released last June, the report states that pupil figures used to calculate surplus spaces are flawed.

And the report's authors offer alternative uses for spare accommodation which they believe will provide a perfect opportunity for investment in the town.

Stewards' headteacher Rhonda Murthar said: "There are alternative ways forward which could be positive and exciting rather than damaging and destructive. We do not want a mistake to happen now if it can be avoided."

Basing its findings on local education authority figures, the report calculates that amalgamation would leave 370 unfilled places, 360 of which would be filled by 2004 according to secondary school population estimates.

With only ten spare spaces available, the report concludes that a second school would have to be built within ten years to cope with demand.

It adds that the amount of money released during the merger would only cover replacement facility costs rather than improving educational provision and classroom sizes would soar.

Stewards School governor David Guest said: "There is no educational logic whatsoever. This is a money grabbing exercise where money saved would go back into Essex County Council coffers and not into Harlow education."

Campaigners have suggested that the county council replaces spare accommodation with a fully equipped SciTech Centre, to boost science and technology education for residents of all ages and abilities.

They believe labs could be used to teach GCSE and A-level classes and to train science teachers and employees at local companies.

Other uses for the centre include a cyber cafe, a high-tech homework study suite, a discovery dome, and a summer literacy school.

Passmores School headteacher Peter Jarman said: "We agree there are surplus spaces and we feel there is potential to improve science and technology facilities which will benefit the whole town."

Speaking after the report was presented to education committee representatives on Monday, committee chairwoman Iris Pummell said: "The report made some good points, but until officers have looked at them in depth, we cannot comment."

A county council education spokesman added: "If there is no amalgamation, the opportunity for a multi- million pound investment in Essex education cannot go ahead, but it would have the advantage of saving disruption at two schools."

l Harlow's six secondary school heads are now urging residents to fight merger plans by writing to education committee members at County Hall, Chelmsford.

Stewards and Passmores have both organisedbuses to take parents and pupils from the schools to the three public consultation meetings next week.

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