Letter: Let's fight to keep our rich heritage

One of the Eskdale School consultation meetings held in Whitby
One of the Eskdale School consultation meetings held in Whitby

I am no stick in the mud! I celebrate innovation and change for the better as well as the need to maintain what is good.

I refer to the concept of a sense of community that is engendered through years of hard work and pride - that sheer sense of community that is built up through institutions such as local schools.

For many a local rural community, the local school really does engender the idea that “small is beautiful”.

This brings me to the point of the forced “academisation” of the education system.

Clearly, North Yorkshire, with its vast open spaces, beautiful landscapes and great villages, has a number of schools which come under threat when they receive a poor Ofsted report.

These inspections are not designed to understand the circumstances, unique features and essential role in the wellbeing of the communities, they merely serve as a blunt instrument predicated on the premise that “one size fits all”.

This in turn brings me back to Eskdale and, inevitably and in the fullness of time, to the predicament that will challenge many of our local village schools.

The government’s academy programme has turbo-charged the threat facing our schools, so now the race is on to find academy sponsors. This is precisely what Eskdale is having to do.

Make no mistake, the “think again”, temporary reprieve situation that Eskdale now finds itself in is not the end of the story.

The ideological narrative will continue and I hope that all involved will not take their eye off the ball.

There is still everything to play for, not least the ability of schools such as Eskdale and the small feeder schools in the villages to produce real, whole people, not just ticking boxes.

We have a rich heritage, well worth fighting for.

Cllr Rob Barnett

Esk Terrace, Whitby