Town council backs parents in school choice

editorial image

Whitby Town Council is calling for a full and formal public consultation over the Eskdale School saga and are backing parents in their fight to keep it open.

At the town council’s monthly meeting, held on Tuesday night, usual procedures were abandoned as around 200 parents and pupils piled in to Pannett Park to have their say.

It was standing room only while the main agenda item was discussed.

Twelve speakers had already pre-booked a slot to speak then councillors fielded several more comments from the floor.

Cllrs Rebecca Pearson and John Freeman had already put a formal proposal to the full council “calling for a formal public consultation and support to maintain the expectation of choice in secondary education for Whitby parents and pupils”.

It was unanimously backed by all councillors present at the meeting which lasted over two and a half hours.

Cllr Freeman said: “There is no doubt as to which way we are going to be voting and I would like to congratulate the voices tonight and the supporters - it is very impressive.

“There are people that have tried to destroy this council, but we are here and we are able to give you a venue to voice and express your real concerns.

“When we contact the county council we must stress in the strongest possible terms our concern and support to give this town a choice of education.”

The town council will relay comments back to the county council prior to a meeting due to happen on Tuesday when education spokesperson, Arthur Barker, will decide whether to put the suggestion that Eskdale merges with the town’s other secondary education establishment - Caedmon College - out to public consultation.

Year 6 parent Paul Burnett said: “This is not about whether Caedmon is a good school or not. Neither Eskdale or Caedmon are perfect but there will always be a situation where a pupil, for whatever reason, does not settle at Eskdale or Caedmon and where the school can’t provide for that individual.

“If you only have one option you are failing that child. In another town or city there is another school a mile down the road. If you close Eskdale the nearest is 20 miles away.

“Merger, amalgamation - it is semantics with words. This is closure of a school.”

So far the only public voice from the school is from assistant head Ian Bloor, who told the meeting staff morale was at its lowest and there was fear over an uncertain future.

He said: “I absolutely love the place and can’t imagine working anywhere else.

“It is absolutely what education should be about.

“As you can imagine the feeling among staff is very low and we don’t know where we re going.

“Thank you for the huge support. Stuff like this will keep us going through the next few months.”