Eskdale School has been turned down for Academy status because the government deemed that it was “not in the best interest of children in the area”.
The decision was made this week and has thwarted the school’s plans to become independent of the local authority and change the age range to an 11-16 school, rather than children moving on at the end of year nine.
Eskdale has been working on the controversial plan, which has divided opinion in the town, since October.
A Department for Education spokesperson told the Gazette: “We carefully considered the application but concluded that the conversion was not in the best interest of children in the area. We have informed the school and the trust of this decision and the reasons for it.”
Mike Ward, the chair of governors at Eskdale said he was “deeply disappointed” and had “serious” concerns about the future of education in the town in light of the town’s other middle school, Caedmon, merging with Whitby Community College from September.
He said: I sincerely hope that these prove totally unfounded. We believed it would have allowed the opportunity for 11-16 education on one site as well as giving parental choice in the area.”
Mr Ward has called for further consultation with the community and a review of educational provision in the area.
Discussions are now taking place between education bosses at North Yorkshire county council, who objected to Eskdale’s plans and the school to determine the best way forward.
Peter O’Dwyer, director of education added: “I know the news is of considerable disappointment .
“I wish to reassure all that the school is not isolated from the rest of the education community.
“We will be working with the governing body to explore how we can ensure that secondary provision in Whitby matches our ambitions for the education of young people in the town.”