As one of the elected district councillors for Southbourne, I have been a consistent opponent of the proposed learning village and am delighted the Bourne Trust are at last recognising the strength of local objections, although curiously the distribution of the questionnaires within Southbourne appears to have been rather selective, not reaching those who had expressed any opposition.
Having been a secondary school governor in Havant for eight years before moving to Southbourne, I have both experience and a deep interest in educational outcomes for our children, and with many years’ experience as a private sector consultant for multi-million-pound global companies I have dealt with many major projects.
I had the opportunity to comment on the strategy document for the learning village for both the trust and CDC cabinet. Unfortunately it failed in two key areas: it was full of tenuous assumptions (eg regarding the outcome of collocation of the Age Concern facilities) with no evidence of measurable benefit to the children whose education we are all hoping to support.
As a strategy proposing major expenditure, the evidence in support of the economic case was minimal and would not have remotely met the standard in any private sector organisation in which I have worked. The upshot would have been a fundamental change to the village of Southbourne involving major disruption to people living here, with the benefits to students being at best marginal and most likely non-existent. I share the good intentions of the Bourne Community Trust in support of the students and hope to work with them on alternative, better thought-through schemes, targeted at educational improvement, working with the geography of Southbourne and avoiding the distractions and irrelevancies which unfortunately characterised the learning village debate.