What Next for Education in Whitby & District?
by MIKE WARD, former Chair of Eskdale School Board of Governors.
After almost 20 years, County Officials may have achieved what they said they would do.
Their aim was always to close Eskdale School and create one school on two sites.
They have continually promised to ensure a sustainable and exciting future for education in Whitby and the highest standards of teaching and learning.
WHY ARE WE STILL WAITING?
Why isn’t there a strong management structure, adequate buildings and teaching staff in place to deliver this?
Yes, there are many good teachers, but how many will now leave? And will those of high quality really be attracted to apply, given the current issues?
Where is the strong leadership that is required?
Once again it seems Whitby is to be let down, with educational provision based on buildings and financial cost savings rather than pupil need.
For those families and students who need to access local education, there could be chaos ahead in all areas of educational provision, especially given the recent mismanagement.
There could even be a further decline in numbers as more parents/students seek stability away from Whitby?
Far too many problems have not been addressed and the fear must be that disciplinary and safeguarding issues will increase in any new set-up.
We will certainly see the new 900+ secondary School become an academy.
Given the current issues with numbers on the Normanby (Mayfield Road) site, the only realistic way forward now is to create a split-site school.
How will this be presented to parents, as Governors, management, Councillors, and Officers have already said this will not happen?
The promise was that all 11–16-year-olds would receive their education on one site, but will this just another broken promise?
How soon before it is ‘announced’ that Whitby will have a system of Education based on a revised Junior and Senior High School model – ie 11- 13 years olds (years 7 & 8) on one of the two current sites (Scoresby) and 14-18 (years 9,10, 11 + a small 6th Form) students on the other (Normanby).
That may only be the beginning of further change.
The Primary Schools, which are already in a joint Academy Trust, will not be exempt.
Are plans already in place for the new secondary school to join the same or a ‘linked’ Trust?
We know Primary School numbers are falling, so when will one or more of our Primary Schools be closed?
Could Primary education be reorganised by the Trust with their age-range stopping at 10, so as to create a new middle school (years 6,7 & 8 on the Scoresby site) before students move to the High School?
If 6th Form education is to be provided in the Town, it will only be with very limited choices, despite promises to the contrary.
The broken promises look set to continue and the road ahead in the short and medium term seems exceedingly rocky.
Therefore, those wanting the very best state educational provision will, as now, access it away from Whitby as it will never, under current management, be able to replicate what is on offer in Scarborough, Cleveland, and Middlesbrough.
There are difficult choices to be made.