School outlines reasons behind Academy plans

Eskdale School ''Andrew Brighton, Charlotte Brown, Maeve Clenaghan and head teacher Sue Wheelan''w134806a
Eskdale School ''Andrew Brighton, Charlotte Brown, Maeve Clenaghan and head teacher Sue Wheelan''w134806a
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Eskdale School is hoping to become an Academy in a bid to raise the leaving age and allow children to take their GCSE’s at the school.

It was revealed last week that the school, on the east side of town, is consulting with parents, pupils and staff about moving away from the control of North Yorkshire County Council so that it can change the rules.

It would mean that pupils didn’t have to leave the school at the end of year 9 and move to other establishments, such as Whitby Community College, to complete their GCSEs.

This week head teacher Sue Whelan told the Gazette it was a move that had been sought for many years by pupils and parents but that the county council was reluctant to embrace it.

By taking on Academy status the school would be self governed, away from the local education authority, and would then be able to apply to raise the leaving age, making it an 11-16 school.

If all goes to plan it is hoped that this would come into effect for the September 2015 school year.

She said: “For many years parents, pupils and staff have always said it is such a pity to be leaving at the end of year 9.

“There are not many 11-14 schools left and a lot are becoming academies as a way of changing the age range because the authority has not got the will to do that change.

“It is a solution to something that has been said for a long time.

“As we are a small school, at the end of the three years we know the pupils really well and have built up a relationship and they have to start again making relationships and meeting new people.

“We hand lots of information over every year. But, with the best will in the world whatever you try to do here, you can’t guarantee it matches up in a different school - and we are all about improving the outcomes for young people.”

The move will see GCSEs being taught at Eskdale for the first time since it opened its doors in 1953.

She added: “The staff have been very positive. It will be a challenge but we are really looking forward to it.”

There are currently 300 pupils on the register at Eskdale which would increase to 500 if it provides GCSEs.

For the first year the school can accommodate that, but might have to tweak arrangements for the second year and may have to consider extending the building in future.