In response to you article ‘Schools Merger Back on the Agenda’
Congratulations on such a well written article.
I am disappointed that one set of governors seem to think they know what is best for this town and it’s young people and were quite happy to exclude community debate.
Your article rightly states the original proposal, after a costly consultation was thrown out. It is therefore astonishing and arrogant that it has been resurrected in such a way that excludes the community. The reasons do not stand up to scrutiny.
Firstly the assertion that new OFSTED criteria will force any of these schools to become Academies suggests that they will be found less than satisfactory if visited in the near future. One school is outstanding the other two are good so I have to ask is this likely? If we assume Federation OFSTED will judge them as a whole and therefore if one were judged as less than satisfactory they would all go into the ‘requiring improvement’ category.
Secondly falling roles. A bit of a red herring as primary numbers are on the up and with the likelihood of economic development from the Potash mine will expand more.
Finally, economic factors, which were not explained in any detail by John Bell. However I do think this is the real reason. North Yorkshire like any other council are having to make savings. A simple answer in this area is to merge all three schools and keep them within the Local Authority thereby ensuring a percentage of their capitation is given back to the Local Authority for services, which could be provided more effectively by others. Top Schools such as Harrogate Grammar are opting out of the Local Authority and buying in services with the money saved from other providers. A sensible approach in these times. In the case of Northallerton they only have one feeder School, Allertonshire. Federating will be much easier if that is what the governing bodies in those Schools decide.
The only person in you article who talks about pupils now and in the future is Cllr Havelock.
Options need to be researched, discussed and proposed to ensure all pupils from 4 to 18+ receive the best education possible whatever their background and economic situation. This Government are pursuing a whole range of options in terms of education provision. We have a talented community, which excels in many areas such as creativity and sporting prowess. We pride ourselves on being an individual community, which welcomes others from diverse backgrounds.
We should be far more radical in our thinking about the education of our young people? Surely that is where the debate should start, not by being told by someone remote with the support of a minority with a completely different agenda that Federation – the cheap option is the only way.
Chris Gozzard, Ruswarp Lane, Whitby by email