‘No clear plans for pupils’: Campaign group calls for postponement of Whitby schools amalgamation

A campaign group has said that the amalgamation of Whitby’s secondary schools should be postponed “to allow for proper, carefully considered options”.
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The Save Education Whitby group has called for the amalgamation of Eskdale School and Caedmon College Whitby to be postponed amid criticism that “there is no clear plan”.

In June, North Yorkshire Council’s executive committee approved the amalgamation of the schools “through ceasing to maintain Eskdale School” from August 2024.

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The plan faced considerable opposition from both parents and politicians over concerns about the provision of choice as well as financial implications, but the authority said that it was “necessary due to low pupil numbers and significant financial challenges at both schools”.

Caedmon College, Whitby. 
Picture: Ceri Oakes w180703dCaedmon College, Whitby. 
Picture: Ceri Oakes w180703d
Caedmon College, Whitby. Picture: Ceri Oakes w180703d

In a letter to parents and carers earlier this month, the Wolds Learning Partnership (WLP) Executive Leader which has been brought in to oversee the merger, said: “We are conscious that the plans for the creation of the new school and the bringing together of our schools and communities that we have inherited are not as advanced as we would have hoped but we are now moving at pace.”

The partnership’s executive leader, Jonathan Britton, said he was “very aware parents are seeking clarification and certainty” and added that the partnership was “working hard to develop, consult upon and share a clear plan once we have gathered the necessary information”.

However, the Save Education Whitby group, which was formerly known as Keep Choice in Whitby and Save Eskdale, said in an open letter: “There is no mission, no name, no values, no policies, no uniform.”

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The group also hit out with concerns regarding the provision of subjects, large class sizes, catering provision, staffing, and funding at the new school.

Eskdale School sign.
picture: North Yorkshire Council / Local Democracy Reporting Service.Eskdale School sign.
picture: North Yorkshire Council / Local Democracy Reporting Service.
Eskdale School sign. picture: North Yorkshire Council / Local Democracy Reporting Service.

It also raised the timing of partnership’s decision to undertake a review of the school sites to determine the capacity of the buildings and the specialist facilities available.

It asked: “Why was this capacity review not done before the consultation period to ensure that the Caedmon site could safely accommodate the extra 400+ pupils?”

The open letter added: “We certainly don’t question the passion of the staff at either Caedmon or Eskdale as they continue to work under extremely difficult circumstances.”

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Mr Britton added: “Although like you we are keen to bring clarity quickly, we also have a unique opportunity and every decision must be carefully considered, to create a truly fabulous place for our children to learn, a thriving community and a school of which you will be proud.”

At a Governing Body meeting last month, there was unanimous agreement to appoint the Wolds Learning Partnership to provide the Executive Leadership of Caedmon College Whitby over the coming two years.

A letter to parents said this was to provide the school with stability throughout the year “as we transition to a single 11-18 school for Whitby”.

Brian Crosby, chair of governors at the Whitby Secondary Partnership, said in that letter: “Throughout the year, we will be setting the vision for the new school including a new name and uniform.

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"We will be setting a new curriculum for September 2024, and will soon publish the staffing structure for the new school and then begin to appoint to the structure.

"All of this will be done in an open and transparent manner.