Are we are entering the closing chapter in Whitby’s secondary schools long-running saga? Do county officials really care about the future of education in our town?
We are about to find out.
North Yorkshire County Council’s preferred option has always been to create one 11-19 split-site school.
Caedmon College Whitby is fully supportive of this option. It will help their budget and ensure increased salaries for a few.
Eskdale School wants to build on what has been achieved to date and become an 11-16 school.
To this aim they have the full support of parents, students, staff and the majority in the community.
They first have to become an 11-16 school before they can then consult on and possibly apply to become an academy.
It will be extremely hard in any circumstance to improve Caedmon College’s budget or A-level choices with some students opting for post 16 educational provision out of town. A bus to Prior Pursglove College is available from September, while some students have chosen different colleges on Teesside or in Scarborough.
North Yorkshire County Council has approved the admission policy and budget for an 11-16 school at Eskdale from September.
Eskdale School has been clear in their letters to students and parents.
However there has been no comment from the Head of Youth Services, Pete Dwyer, who retires this July. What is he waiting for?
Eskdale School will have an Ofsted Inspection in May, and I wonder if it is hoped that the outcome of this report will be ‘Requires Improvement’ in one or more areas.
That outcome could give the chance of fulfilling the county’s long-term aim of one 11-19 split site school.
Such an outcome however would not be the very best for our students.
It would be a disaster that would do untold damage to the education of many, for years to come.
That would apply equally to the students of Eskdale and Caedmon College.
Eskdale School has been working hard to ensure that the wishes of some do not play out.
The leadership team at Eskdale has been under severe pressure for some considerable time but, despite relative inexperience in their roles, they have coped extremely well.
Nothing should be taken away from their obvious talents and passion for Eskdale but in the coming weeks they have to show what they and all the staff are capable of.
Never has strong inspirational leadership been more important.
Caedmon College could have done far more to support Eskdale, I think.
We have to trust that no undue pressure can now be put on Ofsted to influence the outcome of the forthcoming inspection given so much is resting upon it.
County has done very little to ensure that all staff in their schools behave in a professional manner and that any leadership issues are fully addressed.
If for any reason the outcome at Eskdale is not good, then County must shoulder much of the blame.
If we see any sort of amalgamation between the two schools with a joint governing body, this will lead in short time to one 11-19 school on split-sites.
The new school(s) will be, to all intents and purposes, an expanded Caedmon College.
Alarm bells should be ringing in both our secondary schools