School plans to seek the status of an Academy

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Eskdale School is planning one of the biggest shake-ups in Whitby’s education system for years.

It announced this week that it is looking at taking on Academy status and increasing the leaving age from 14 to 16 - the end of year 11.

At its last meeting the board of governors voted in favour of making the change to an Academy and enabling pupils to complete their GCSEs at Eskdale instead of changing schools at the end of year nine.

Although the final decision is subject to approval by the Department of Education, parents and pupils are now being consulted on the idea and the governors believe it will sit favourabley with them.

The current system sees secondary age pupils attending Eskdale or Caedmon until the end of year nine and moving to Whitby Community College or Prior Purseglove to complete their secondary education and take GCSE exams.

A school spokesperson said: “For many years pupils, parents, carers, staff and Governors have repeatedly expressed the desire for Eskdale to be an 11-16 school, in common with almost all the other schools in North Yorkshire.

“To do so would help build upon our “outstanding” status and ensure that every pupil has continued access to high quality teaching and benefits from our ethos of challenge and support up until 16.

“The Governors believe that there is strong support for this change however, before any action is taken we will be holding meetings and consultations to hear everybody’s views.”

The proposals, announced this week, provoked a mixed reaction.

A spokesperson for the National Association of School Masters and Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) said they have issues with schools becoming academies and the county council said it was “very” concerned about the impact it would have on how Eskdale, Caedmon and the community college work together.

A spokesperson said: “Should the school become an academy, we hope they would continue to work as part of the North Yorkshire body of schools.

“Whilst the Eskdale proposal would remove an unnecessary move for some at the end of Key Stage 3, we remain very concerned that opportunities for greater collaboration will be lost by such a move. We will respond to the governors’ consultation and to the Secretary of State, who would be determining any academy approval on that basis.