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Wednesday, 26 November 2014

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Closure of Carlisle school's pool could sink pupils’ lessons

A swimming pool is set to close – leaving lessons for hundreds of children in limbo.

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Closing: The swimming pool at the Richard Rose Central Academy in Carlisle needs too much money spending on it

The pool at the Richard Rose Central Academy in Carlisle is poised to shut within weeks.

It is understood its owner has made the decision after realising tens of thousands of pounds will have to be spent upgrading it.

News has been broken to some of those who use the pool, including more than a dozen primary schools that are legally bound to teach children to swim.

The move could throw school timetables into disarray as staff try to fix pupils with new slots at other city pools, including The Pools at James Street, Central’s sister school in Morton and nearby Trinity School.

United Learning, which is taking over the running of the city’s two academies from the Richard Rose Federation, has confirmed that 14 jobs could be lost if the federation’s proposals to close the Lismore Place pool go through.

Final swimming sessions are likely to take place during the Easter holidays.

The pool was retained when St Aidan’s School was bulldozed to make way for the current academy building and now needs significant investment at a time when academy chiefs must focus efforts on raising educational standards in the failing school.

The academy says that assessments by outside experts agree that the pool has a ‘short lifetime’ without a major overhaul.

A spokesman said: “This proposal is not something that is being considered lightly. However, we believe that this is the only effective option at present.”

Talks have taken place with Carlisle Leisure, which manages The Pools, Trinity pool and that at Morton, to look at where it may be able to help.

The academy spokesman added: “While the pool is currently popular, the decline in pupil numbers in the area means that the per user price will quickly become untenable.”

Carlisle Leisure managing director Andy King said: “We are looking at whether we can accommodate current users at other pools. Predominantly we’re looking at primary schools and other children who have swimming lessons.

“There is enough ‘water space’ available across the pools but we don’t yet know the exact details of what people need or would like and how we may be able to accommodate that.”

Brook Street School, on Edward Street, is one of around 15 schools believed to be affected by the move.

Currently 60 of its seven to nine-year-old pupils walk to the Central Academy once a week for swimming lessons.

Headteacher Janet Ditchburn said: “I have sympathy for them. It is a financial decision but it affects us.

“The current children going will not be affected because they would be finishing at Easter, but we need to find out what we are going to do from next September.

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