Eskdale: The War Drags On
- – an “In My View”article by NIGEL WARD, updating readers on a significant step in the continuing battle to save Eskdale School.
As on an empty stage, between acts of a play, there would appear to be little happening in the ongoing proposal instigated by just four of the Whitby Secondary Partnership Board of Governors seeking to close and demolish Eskdale School – and the determined opposition to this absurd proposal.
This is not the case.
The Working Group Chaired by former Eskdale Headteacher David BRADLEY, under the auspices of the Whitby Community Network, has been pursuing various avenues, some of which (for legal reasons) it would be unwise to disclose in any detail, at this stage.
However, the following letter from Mr BRADLEY to the elected members at County Hall will give readers considerable insight into the line of attack:
Dear Elected Members,
RE: Proposed Amalgamation of Whitby Secondary Schools and Closure of Eskdale School by Whitby Secondary Partnership Governors.
I am writing to you again because I honestly do not believe that the above proposal is in the best interest of young learners and the wider community. I have lived near Whitby for thirty-two years and been privileged to serve as a secondary headteacher for nearly twenty years – fourteen at Eskdale School. I have a strong network of ex-colleagues and friends who believe that this plan is ill-conceived and fundamentally flawed – a view which is strongly endorsed by the very recent “Vision for Whitby” survey.
Everyone that I have spoken with accepts the fact that the current situation of surplus places cannot continue. However, putting all the 11-16 cohort onto the oldest site with the smallest playing fields and adjacent to one of the busiest roads in Whitby is not the best or safest option. In my opinion, other options have not been properly considered. A very small number of ‘federated’ governors, assisted by officers of the local authority, have devised a plan which solves the current financial problems but, will undoubtedly store up significant issues in the medium and longer term. I call upon our elected members to be brave enough to halt this process immediately before we sleepwalk into another short-term solution.
The current situation in Whitby is intolerable for children, parents, and staff. North Yorkshire Council need to transform it, not follow the example of their predecessors. As a new unitary authority, they should grasp the opportunity to make ambitious, inventive, and innovative decisions which are a force for good. A variety of options should be explored and presented to our young people, many of whom will be the parents of tomorrow in this community. These options must be costed and future-proofed, unlike the current proposal. We have not been given the financial value of the three sites. We have not been given costings to upgrade the former Whitby School. We have not been given the cost of escorting students across Mayfield Road and we do not know the cost to the environment of buses being parked on the main road.
We do know that there is £10 million available for the maritime hub. Surely, this should be factored into overall provision for the secondary sector. If more people do move into the Whitby area, which seems likely, how will we accommodate them in a 1920s building with a ‘ragbag’ collection of buildings and very few eco-friendly attributes as well as a distinct shortage of playing fields? If the Sixth Form numbers stay the same or dwindle, there is little chance of the revenue budget being able to maintain the buildings at the former Caedmon School. How long will it be before buildings here need to be mothballed, shut, or sold?
Frankly, the proposal offered by the Federated Governing Body is not fit-for-purpose and should be rejected without any more hesitation.
D.W. Bradley B.Ed., FRSA
Other articles (in chronological order) covering the closure proposal may be reviewed by clicking on the following URL-links: