Eskdale School launches bid for
academy status bid

Eskdale school.
Eskdale school.

Eskdale School has this week submitted an application to become an Academy – after being under threat of closure earlier this year.

It is the secondary school’s second attempt at obtaining independence of the local authority and the latest event in a turbulent six months for the school.

But headteacher Sue Whelan said she hoped the move would lead to stability and certainty for all concerned with the school after what she described as a “difficult” few months following controversial plans to merge Eskdale with Caedmon College, which were later abandoned.

The application is to become a sponsored academy with Rodillian, an academy trust which is based in Wakefield, West Yorks, and which is looking to add an east coast hub to its offering.

It could be passed straight away or require more information but it is hoped there could be some feedback on the application before the end of the summer term.

While there would be no obvious day to day running changes, Mrs Whelan and her team of governors say the move would give Eskdale more control and security over its future and the direction of learning and curriculum.

She told the Gazette: “If this goes through it gives Eskdale a really secure future. The sponsor has worked with other schools that have added the extra age range so they have got the experience to help us make sure we make a success of that.

“It will also give the certainty that has been lacking at the 
moment. This is an opportunity to get the education sorted once and for all and for both schools to be able to move forward and know exactly where they are going.”

Should the application be approved, the school will continue with preparations to teach at GSCE level to year 10 students (current year eights) as of the September 2017 term.

It will lead to the recruitment of more staff and in time the school will require re-ordering and extension of classroom space to accommodate the extra pupils it will be retaining.

The plan has proved popular with parents and supporters of the school who launched an unprecedented campaign to save Eskdale earlier this year when it emerged North Yorkshire County Council was planning to close Eskdale and merge it with Caedmon College.

A spokesperson for the Fight To Save Eskdale said: “The proposal to join Rodillian Academy Trust is exciting and just what we have all been waiting for to secure the future of our lovely school.

“It is great to have so much backing for this and we are pleased MP Robert Goodwill is supportive too.

“We know the governors have been working hard looking into the best solution for our school and thank them on behalf of the parents and pupils for their hard work.

“Rodillian’s philosophy ties in well with Eskdale’s ethos and it will be great to have their experience to help with our school’s improvement journey.”

l Last week Eskdale underwent an OFSTED monitoring inspection which found that the school has made progress since its last inspection which stated the school ‘required improvement’.

l School governors were put in contact with Rodillion at the recommendation of The Regional Schools Commissioner - appointed on behalf of the Secretary of State to work in underperforming schools.