Sunday 20th January 2019,
North Yorks Enquirer

The Whitby Secondary Partnership

The Whitby Secondary Partnership

An opinion piece by Guest Author MIKE WARD, former Chair of Eskdale School Board of Governors and SBC Councillor, commenting on what many are calling the ‘stitch-up merger’ of Caedmon College Whitby and Eskdale School – the bone of much fierce contention a couple of years ago.

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An interesting if not unexpected announcement.

With national educational funding cutbacks and the need for County savings, the preferred option of NYCC Officers has always been for Federation and/or merger.

The ability to access extra Coastal funds is to be welcomed and certainly more needs to be spent on extra classroom provision at Eskdale.

Partnership working in many areas of society has become essential. In this case, we have two secondary schools of equal standing working together and able to benefit from cost savings in many areas of the two businesses.

The opportunities are endless provided personal ambition is never allowed to come into play.

A reservation to the proposal is the suggestion of having just one Governing Body.

Governors have a duty to the school and the students they represent. With a joint Governing Body for two independent schools there could possibly be a conflict of interest. Governors must do their very best for the students under their care and then secondly to any partnership.

Hopefully the school budgets will remain separate as the monies are there to give the students in the separate institutions the very best educational provision.

There could be extremely difficult decisions ahead with one Governing Body, more especially if there was a joint budget. The end of the road for our students would be if a proposal for a split site 11-16 school was resurrected in the future.

An 11-18 purpose-built school possibly but a split-site secondary arrangement should never again be considered. Even though in that scenario the cost savings would be even greater we all know,including NYCC, that split site schools do not work. Just look at the list of failing schools. A split site 11-16 school could never be in the best interest of Whitby or it’s students.

A second reservation is with sixth form provision.

Sir Martin Narey said ‘But nothing has been more important than ensuring Whitby has a top class sixth form‘.

Possibly, but it is even more important that Whitby students have access to the very best sixth form provision. That could mean students continuing to broaden their educational experience outside the town to access the very best provision in many subjects, both academic and vocational, ensuring the right options at the most challenging level are available to them.

Whilst you would hope some first class provision in certain subjects & options are available in Whitby you only have to look at the outstanding facilities available in Middlesbrough, Guisborough, Redcar and Scarborough,where the numbers, and therefore budgets, are far greater, to question whether, with free travel, that might not still be the best option for the majority.

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