Students and neighbours of under-threat adult education have reacted angrily to rumours that courses could be cut and its home in Whatley Avenue closed as the council strives to save £32m.

Dozens of people have already signed a petitionto maintain and protect Merton Adult Education(MAE) identified by Merton Council at the start of the week as the first service ‘under review’.

Chair of governors at neighbouring Joseph Hood Primary School, Posey Furnish, said they are incandescent because nobody told them about the threat.

Any changes at MAE in Whatley Avenue, Raynes Park, could have a direct effect on the 300 children at the school, which shares an access road with the centre and borders the site.

Mrs Furnish said: "We found out about this from a parent yesterday.

"Who would send their children to a school with God knows what next to it? Some of our children are extremely vulnerable, and there’s the children’s centre here too."

She said the school works closely with MAE and the lack of communication and uncertainty felt like a huge slap in the face to their relationship with the council.

Maycross Avenue resident Caroline Mills has a son at the school, and re-trained at MAE which enabled her to get a job as a teaching assistant at the school.

She is still studying there part-time to fit her qualifications in around work and family life.

Wimbledon Times:

Miss Mills said: "I am a single parent, and I am studying at MAE to make a much better life for my family.

"To have that resource taken away from me - I wouldn’t be able to do it.

"Everyone has the right to an education and not everyone can drive or get the bus.

"At the end of the day it’s not fair."

Rumours are circulating that the substantial site could be sold and converted into homes, and adult classes could be moved to other colleges or closed altogether.

A document from Lib Dem parliamentary spokesperson for Wimbledon, Shas Sheehan, is circulating proposing six options - despite the council insisting that the review won’t be complete until the New Year and no decisions will be taken until then.

The options are: 1. MAE continues as it currently is, with some changes in the service structure in order to meet budget reductions.

2. MAE forms a shared service otherwise known as a soft federation with South Thames College sharing back office and management functions.

3. MAE forms a shared service otherwise known as a soft federation with Sutton College of Learning for Adults (SCOLA) sharing back office and management functions.

4. Merton closes the college and becomes a commissioner of adult education services.

5. Merton closes the college and becomes a commissioner of adult education services with Wandsworth.

6. Merton ceases delivering adult education returning the funding to the Skills Funding Agency.

The letter states a final decision is due in January, weeks after a new intake of students will have started their courses. The council has said that changes, if any, will not be implemented until the new academic year next August. It has also pledged that the service will continue to operate in the borough.

The Wimbledon Guardian understands management at MAE are worried about their jobs and the future of the centre, but are too scared to speak out.

Many have taught there for decades and are very well known in their respective industries.

Meetings have been held this week at the venue to gather student’s views.

Pottery student Serena Cottrell said: "This service is fantastic.

"Is there anything else in this area that offers adult education?

"They only built a new pottery wing three years ago."

Another adult student said: "My life revolves around here.

"I have discovered I am an artist and have sold work.

"The alternative is awful."

A petition started by Mrs Sheehan can be found here.