ESKDALE: Other Options
Guest Author MIKE WARD – former Chair of Governors at Eskdale School – sets the ball rolling in the search for an acceptable solution to the many problems of Whitby’s Secondary School provision.
Let the conversation begin . . .
IS THERE MORE THAN ONE OPTION THAT SHOULD BE CONSIDERED?
NYCC has the responsibility and opportunity to provide the very best educational provision that our Whitby and district students need and deserve.
Only when all the information is freely available and a proper, thoughtful, and meaningful timeframe is in place should any consultation be undertaken.
Parents and students must have total confidence in the procedures being adopted.
A ‘quick fix’ to reduce costs is certainly not what is required.
At present, there appears to be only one Option for any consultation.
Do NYCC Officers, our Councillors and/or the Governors have a predetermined view with their minds closed to the merits of any other Option?
Yes, everyone agrees cost savings need to be found but surely not at the expense of our students.
OPTION 1 (Governors current proposal?)
Close Eskdale School and amalgamate Caedmon and Eskdale on the two remaining sites – Normanby & Scoresby.
There are 900+ places at the Caedmon College (Normanby Site), which is the smallest (4.5ha), but there is no play area, limited sports fields, and is without road access for coaches.
However, this proposal means shoe-horning all 900+ 11-16 students into a confined space whilst leaving 350+ available spaces on the Scoresby (6th Form) site – OR creating a split-site school – i.e. 11-13/14 on one site and 13/14-18 on the other.
A large 11-16 1000+ school on split sites could be created but split-sites schools have been shown to fail in North Yorkshire and more recently in Whitby.
This proposal is all about money rather than the students.
Teachers, in a larger school, will find it difficult to know all their pupils and this could result in increased bullying, with more disciplinary and safeguarding issues, as well as larger class sizes.
Parental choice and competition, and comparison, would be lost.
Traffic chaos at the beginning and end of the school day, with the extra pupil and traffic movements, will increase.
Caedmon College (Normanby site) have just asked parents to help in reducing the traffic chaos at that school at present whilst the Governors are proposing an increase with their proposal.
Current and future students accessing 11-16 education will potentially be harmed.
Educational chaos could ensue.
Many parents and students could be forced to look outside the town for educational provision as they do at 16+.
Is it right that 6th Form considerations are allowed to distract from the best provisions for any 11-16-year-old?
Allow both schools to apply to become separate Academies.
There are several outstanding small Academies in North Yorkshire and further afield.
Build a new, fit for purpose, 11-18 comprehensive school on the Caedmon site.
This would be designed in such a way to reduce the impact of a large school for students eg smaller blocks with defined outside space.
Whilst the Caedmon (Scoresby Site) was redeveloped Eskdale would remain as an 11-16 school and Caedmon as an 11-18 School on the Normanby site.
When the new school was built the remaining two sites could be sold to reduce the overall spend.
Reconfigure the Scoresby site to accommodate 900+ 11-16-year-olds.
Thought would again be needed to lessen the impact of pupils moving to a large school.
Whilst building work was undertaken Eskdale and Caedmon (Normanby site) would remain.
When completed either of the other two sites could be sold with the other to be used as the 6th Form.
As a site, maybe Eskdale could offer more (3G pitch, etc.) and have fewer available spaces or could it be possible to use the old St Hildas RC School, with an additional building, as a small 6th form.
Move the 6th Form to the Normanby site with the added space used to create a Marine Training facility which is also being proposed for Whitby.
More technical/mining/ and/or adult courses could also be offered, as well as possibly creating a community hub.
The opportunities are endless.
This would again leave two sites (Eskdale & Scoresby) for 11-16 students, each with 500 students.
An enlarged 6th Form could be in partnership with the 11-16 schools, as a stand-alone school or could even possibly be operated as the Whitby Campus of another larger education provider.
Leave Eskdale as a stand-alone 500 place 11-16 school or working in partnership with Caedmon (Scoresby site) as 11-18 750 place school with the addition of an additional teaching block (costings required).
How much investment would be needed at Eskdale to improve facilities in the long-term for 500 students?
All could be achieved with the revenue from the sale of the Normanby site.
The Normanby site (Caedmon School), which doesn’t have the added complication of a floodlit all weather 3G pitch to be included in any sale, could then be sold.
The 3G pitches at Eskdale and Scoresby (6th Form) are subject to the legal sale restraints which were put in place when the grant funding was given.
The Mayfield Road site could be very attractive to developers in providing houses, apartments, etc., close to the Town Centre
Close Whitby 6th Form (Scoresby Site), which diverts funding from the 11-16 schools, and provide free travel to the student’s choice of school for post-16 education.
Move Caedmon School to that site leaving the town with two 11-16 schools Caedmon and Eskdale.
Small schools can be as successful as any large school.
Again this would leave the Normanby site to be sold.
And there could be other Options that should be considered.
THE REMIT OF ANY CONSULTATION MUST BE WIDENED.
STUDENTS DESERVE THE BEST POSSIBLE EDUCATIONAL PROVISION.