Whitby Schools Amalgamation
Guest Author MIKE WARD thinks ‘outside the box’ on the proposed amalgamation of Whitby’s secondary school provision.
The current proposal to close Eskdale cannot benefit any 11–16-year-old, whether currently at Caedmon or at Eskdale.
Undoubtedly it would significantly reduce the cost of education provision in Whitby and generate revenue by providing land for housing (and Council Tax revenue in perpetuity), as well as removing unnecessary student places.
It would create a 1,200 (11-18) place split-site (Normanby and Scoresby) comprehensive school, but how would that improve education for any of the 900+ 11-16 students?
None of the current sites could comfortably educate all 900 11-16 students, making split-site education the only option.
Split-site 11-16 schools have consistently failed, as was the case in Scarborough & Northallerton. Even Caedmon also recently abandoned such an arrangement.
Large schools are not always the best solution when deciding on 11-16 education. Yes, they are more cost effective than those of 500 students, but with size comes other serious issues, especially on split-sites.
There are many extremely successful small 11-16 schools in the County.
Surely that should be the case in Whitby.
Parental choice, in Whitby, would be lost – as would any competition and comparison.
Getting to know and understand all the students would be more difficult for staff and safeguarding and disciplinary issues could increase as well as class sizes.
In order not to disrupt education provision, Whitby must have two 11-16 schools.
The issue we also have is that of a very small 6th Form.
However, any need to maintain 16-18 education in Whitby must not be allowed to have any effect on 11-16 provision.
In Whitby, any 6th Form will always be small with a limit on what subjects can be studied as students look to access the very best facilities and options which fit in with their future objectives.
Free transport at this level should always be available to the school of their choice.
Why not close either the Normanby or the Scoresby site rather than Eskdale?
This would leave Caedmon as a 700+ 11-18 school (on either site), with Eskdale for around 500 11-16 students.
Two small but equally effective cost-effective schools working in partnership.
NYCC would see the cost benefits without affecting the quality of education for our 11-16 students.
The scope of any consultation should surely be widened with the focus on how we obtain the best educational provision for all students in Whitby.
MIKE WARD – former Chair of Governors, Eskdale School
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