Sunday 26th May 2024,
North Yorks Enquirer



The organisers of the Keep Choice in Whitby and Save Eskdale School group have published the following Open Letter to the Board of Governors of the Whitby Secondary Partnership and North Yorkshire (County) Council.

Please read this Open Letter and the additional information and commentary published below it:


to the Governors of Whitby Secondary Partnership and North Yorkshire (County) Council

We feel for the second time this is the only option open to us.

Since you made the announcement in Jan 4th 2023, our requests for information to be able to form the full picture of what has happened and is happening in Whitby Secondary education have be blocked.

It took six weeks for the minutes of the meetings to be released, the agenda were requested after the first public meeting on 8th March, some have been released on the 21st March.

The confidential minutes were requested via a Freedom of Information request, at the end of the 20 working day period Mr Henshaw extended it by another 20 working days stating that there had to be a public interest test. WHY?

The deadline was moved another 20 working days to the 17th March. We have yet to receive notification of why the delay OR the requested minutes.

A complaint has been sent to the ICO.

The Governors missed the Whitby Town Council meeting to prepare for the public meetings yet COULD NOT answer any questions clearly, lacked details, and relied on the ‘could be’ rather than ‘will be’, no details.

North Yorkshire County Council have allowed the Governors to run WSP outside of Dfe guidelines for a while ( remember only 4 governors passed the proposal )

1. The minimum number is 7 but MUST have 2 parent governors, 1 Local Authority, 1 staff, 1 head teacher. – WSP have 1 parent, 1 staff, 1 Head – The rest are co-opted.

2. The total staff can not be more than one third of the governing body – they have three but only seven or eight members on the governing body.
There should only be 2.

3. EGMs can be classed as confidential minutes BUT there must be agendas and the attendence recorded as a normal meeting would be – WSP have had three NO attendence or Agendas have been recorded for any.

4. Brian Crosby was co-opted on in January with out an official meeting by NYCC  but it is on the agenda for Feb as a LA governor nomination.

North Yorkshire County Council (soon to be North Yorkshire Council) are compliant with the hiding of Information, and the wasting of public funds.

North Yorkshire Coast Opportunity Area “Our programme is prioritising work on improving early years education, boosting literacy and numeracy skills, and helping more secondary schools to become good or outstanding”

Nowhere does it mention spending £250,000 on capital investment for a stand-alone 6th form site.

136 students on a site for 500+ with predicted failing numbers at 11-16, yet you say the numbers will increase – How?

NYCC added an extra £250,000 so this vanity project has had £500,000 of public funds. – Yet you say WSP can’t afford to employ teachers.

Three of you can answer why this happened – Christina Zanelli, Brian Crosby MBE and Stuart Carlton as you were on the board of NYCOA at the time.

You are now doing everything in your power to protect your investment regardless of the effect on 11-16 children, now and in the future.

We request the following information be released so the consultation in its final week and a half is honest and transparent.

  1. The confidential minutes in line with the Freedom of Information Act.
  2. The agendas to ALL WSP meetings since July 2019
  3. The Evidence that other options have been looked at in depth – as requested at the public meetings.
  4. An explanation why WSP and NYCC have not publicly advertised the consultation to parents and children at both schools, all primary schools and the wider community.
  5. An explanation of When, How and in what capacity did Brian Crosby MBE join the WSP governing body.

ONLY you know why you are hiding this information, and DO NOT want a full and honest consultation.

We will not compromise on our children’s education. We will keep pushing for the truth, for transparency and most of all the Best Education for the children of Whitby now and in the future.

Keep choice in Whitby and Save Eskdale

WSP and the Whitby Town Meeting

  • – an “In My View” article by NIGEL WARD, urging parents and carers of present and future secondary school students/pupils to attend the Town Meeting on Wednesday 22nd March 2023 at 6:30pm at the Coliseum.


In the aftermath of the ‘Consultation’ events held at the Whitby Spa/Pavilion on Wednesday 8th March 2023, where much of the truth came from the mouths of children and at which an ad hoc Vote of No Confidence in the Board of Governors of the Whitby Secondary Partnership was carried by an overwhelming majority, I have been contacted by quite literally dozens of parents, carers, students, former students, teachers, former teachers, teaching asistants, former teaching assistants, Governors and former Governors.

Many of these communications centre around the question of what can be done to prevent the Amalgamation of the secondary schools (i.e. the closure and demolition of Eskdale School, freeing the land for commercial development and depriving present and future students/pupils of any choice of secondary education).

Others have been ‘dishing the dirt’ (and deeply unpleasant some of it is) on some of the main players behind the drive to Amalgamation, in the hope that discrediting them will force the Education Authority to think twice about an unacceptable solution to a problem arising almost entirely from the financial management failures of the Board of Governors.

I do not propose to rehearse these reports here at this time.

It seems to me that information already in the public domain suffices to form the opinion that there has been a great deal of secrecy, incompetence and dishonesty surrounding the methodology adopted to drive through the closure of Eskdale School without due regard to the will of the people of Whitby, parents, carers and students – present and future.

For a comprehensive and thoroughly-documented insight into all that has gone on, please review the following publications:

The following links confirm that WSP Co-Chair Ms Christina ZANELLI, far from being an “unpaid volunteer” (who misinformation to parents/carers regarding the appointment and credentials of the Executive Head Teacher, Mr Jamie HENSHAW, should be excused on those grounds – along with the admitted “financial issues” arising from the Board’s ineffectual management) is, in fact a seasoned, professional and highly ambitious education careerist whose personal career-trajectory defines, to my eyes and many others, the purpose of the proposed Amalgamation far more convincingly than the ‘official’ rationale propagated by the Board of Governors.

Having examined these links, I am convinced that I am right – and so were the overwhelming majority of Consultation attendees – to have NO CONFIDENCE in the WSP Board of Governors.

I hope those who care about the future of secondary education in Whitby will join me in attending the ASSEMBLY of the TOWN MEETING of WHITBY at the Coliseum, 6:30pm tomorrow, Wednesday 22nd March 2023. Best to arrive early – a large turn-out can be anticipated (though possibly no Governors).

Whitby Town Council has no powers to make decisions on the proposed Amalgamation, but it does have a statutory duty to represent the will of the people. That is the fundamental nature of democracy at the local level.

I have therefore informed the Mayor that I will be attending and raising this issue, in the public interest.

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