Bosses accused of gambling with education of west Cumbrian children
Last updated at 17:06, Tuesday, 19 February 2013
Education bosses are leading the children of Workington into an “abyss”, according to union leaders.
Stainburn and Southfield secondary schools are due to merge as early as September but the country’s largest teaching union says key questions about the plans remain unanswered.
The National Union of Teachers (NUT) also claims that staff, parents and children are being railroaded into the merger and have not been properly consulted over the plans.
Alan Rutter, county secretary for the NUT, said that education bosses are “gambling” with children’s futures and likened the process to a “headlong rush over a cliff”.
He said not enough was known about Bright Tribe, the education trust working with the two schools to gain academy status. He claimed it was an “unknown quantity” with a flashy website but no track record of running academies.
“We are gambling with our children’s education. Effectively we are going into an abyss, a headlong rush over a cliff. Staff and schools have been sold a vision with no substance to it.
“The people of Workington should have some sort of say about how their education is delivered, and there is nothing to stop these schools going ahead without consulting the parents. We feel the consultation process is very flawed and virtually non-existent.
“No one has bothered to speak to us [the NUT] about anything.”
Mike Cunningham, case worker for the NUT in west Cumbria, believes that there are unanswered questions about money, time-scales and even where academy would ultimately be based. He said: “They are selling the people of Workington short.”
He predicted an “exodus” as parents send their children to other schools following the merger.
Town council leader Gerald Humes has resigned from the board of governors at Southfield Technology College on Moorclose Road, Workington.
“I don’t think Bright Tribe has the equipment and resources to do a good job,” he said.
A meeting was due to be held today at 2.45pm at Workington Sixth Form Centre on Needham Drive, Workington. But Mr Cunningham said he had only just found out about the meeting and would not be able to represent members at such short notice.
Lynda Dalkin, Southfield’s headteacher, was unavailable for comment.
Chris McGrath, headteacher of Stainburn School on Stainbuirn Road, Workington, said he was unaware that the NUT was unhappy with the consultation.
A spokeswoman for Bright Tribe said: “We are consulting with the unions and staff today at both schools and we feel it is appropriate that we have spoken to them first before making any public statements.”
First published at 17:03, Tuesday, 19 February 2013
Published by http://www.newsandstar.co.uk