School bosses thwart leaving age change

Eskdale School’s proposals to increase the leaving age to 16 are set to be rejected by education bosses at the county council.

In a letter leaked to the Whitby Gazette, Peter Dwyer, director of children and young people’s services, tells headteacher Sue Whelan that the governing body’s proposals “are not in the best interests of young people in Whitby”.

Plans to become an 11-16 
establishment come two years after an application to convert to an Academy so the school could in turn obtain 11-16 status were rejected.

Eskdale also opted out of joining last year’s merger between the old Caedmon School and former community college.

It is now the only school in North Yorkshire where pupils leave at the age of 14 and complete their GCSEs at another school.

But Mr Dwyer says in the letter: “Nevertheless, in our view, the consequences of such a move to 11-16 by Eskdale School could have potential adverse outcomes for the wider school community and therefore potentially for young people’s opportunities and outcomes.”

It is estimated that in September there will be 310 pupils on roll at Eskdale – 128 under the 438 capacity.

However, if the school were 11-16 the roll by 2020 could be 562 – a shortfall of 124 places.

Equivalent figures for Caedmon as an 11-18 are that in September there will be 1057 on roll -almost 700 under the 1755 capacity and by 2020 it will take on just 844 students.

It is thought Eskdale would require three temporary classrooms costing £750,000 to build but in turn it is predicted the school will have a budget shortfall of £300,000.

Mr Dwyer adds: “In the absence of a local momentum to come together as a single school the most appropriate way forward to ensure stable and sustainable provision for young people in the area is for Eskdale to remain 11-14 and work in a formal federation with Caedmon College setting aside organisational sensitivities and boundaries, sharing resources and expertise.”