The start of the new school term this week was also the start of a new era in education in Whitby.
Caedmon College opened its doors on Tuesday to 1100 pupils aged between 11 and 19 – more than 300 than it did last year.
The merger of what was formerly Caedmon middle school and Whitby Community College has eradicated the transition period, which for years has seen pupils have to change schools at the end of year nine. It has created a new brand of education in Whitby which will see students stay at the same place from year seven right until the end of their A-levels in year 13.
Caedmon College has merged teaching and support staff, governors and sites but re-branded the two former sites and implemented a new uniform and identity.
Keith Prytherch, heads the merger along with former headteacher at Caedmon, Tony Hewitt who now becomes the assistant headteacher.
Mr Prytherch said: “We are both very proud of it. It is great to see the staff working together and it is the start of a process now, not the end of a process.
“The ambition from everybody who works here is to create the best possible resources we can for the students in Whitby.”
Throughout the summer holidays plans were being put in place for the first day of the new term, which both headteachers said went like “any normal first day back”.
Mr Hewitt said: “This is no different a first day as it would have been last year, we have the same things we need to sort out like pupils that have got the wrong timetable. The first lesson was surprisingly calm and this feels so much better. We have been working on it for so long. There has been a lot of talk but nothing to look at and the merger has been a theoretical model. But seeing the new signage go up last week and the students coming in in their new uniform, we feel now that we have made that change.”
There is now a staff of 70 working across both sites. Caedmon is now called the Scoresby site while the former college site is now the Normanby site.
It also means there are extra facilities available to all pupils including two new science labs costing £250,000, the sports complex and preparation work for GCSEs will now start in year nine.
Mr Hewitt added: “There will be more continuity in teaching. A teacher that the students get in year eight will be there the whole way through school. For example, if they have a block on maths in year eight, when they get to year 10 the teacher can deal with that and they know the student.
“The heads of year are the same, the students know who they can go to if they have concerns and the same for parents. They have a relationship they build up that lasts for four years and not two.
“It also gives teachers a chance to develop their own careers. For the old Caedmon teachers, they taught year nine but now have the opportunity to teach A-Levels, and A-Level teachers can teach the younger ones GCSE, giving them all a broader knowledge.”
Plans for the merger were made public at the beginning of the year and consultations took place with parents who have long campaigned for the transition to be abolished and the town’s education system brought in line with the rest of the county.
It had been hoped that the town’s other secondary school, Eskdale, would also join the merger but it opted out to pursue an application for Academy status which was turned down by the Department for Education.