Parents, staff and pupils were moved to tears as they turned out in their droves to back Eskdale School which is being threatened with closure.
Well over 100 people packed into a meeting of Whitby Town Coucnil on Monday night after the issue, which has split opinion in the town, was hastily put on the agenda.
There are already over 3,400 signatures on an on-line petition to save the school while paper petitions have yet to be counted up and are in many shops and businesses in Whitby and the surrounding villages.
Several people, including pupils, spoke at the meeting on why they feel Eskdale should be kept open and what the school means to them.
Ashley Storr said: “I used to get bullied and that is a normal thing in a school but the teachers [that helped me] won’t be there for the rest of my education. When I read the news on facebook it just broke my heart, I can’t believe it because Eskdale will make me a bettter person.”
Year 8 student Zac added: “They think it is about the money, but it is not. I don’t really see why they should close it.
“Everyone is really happy every day and the staff are really good.”
Ofsted figures were also quoted at the meeting which show Eskdale held in higher regard than the average school across the country.
When parents were asked if their child was happy at Eskdale, 82% said they strongly agreed compared to 52% which is the national average response. When asked if they would recommend their school, 91% of Eskdale parents said yes, compared to the national average of 83%.
Jon White is one of the parents leading the ‘Fight to Save Eskdale Campaign Group’. He has a daughter currently at Eskdale, one who has left and one in year 6.
He told the meeting: “A lot has been said that having one school gives more strategic focus, more resources but there is a lot of research that says a smaller schools is more beneficial and successful.
“Pupils know teachers, teachers know pupils and pupils know each other.”
He referred to a merger in Scarborough between Graham and Raincliffe Schools which was operating across split sites and had “caused numerous problems”.
Mr White added: “It is very similar to what’s happening here. We do not know the full results of the Caedmon and College merger – there has been no Ofsted, can we risk that?”
Ian Bloor, assistant headteacher at Eskdale, said: “I am absolutely humbled by the support for our school. It has moved me to tears.This is a very special school and place and we must do everything we can to keep it going.”