Major merger plan for Workington schools
Last updated at 12:45, Friday, 08 February 2013
Workington's Stainburn and Southfield schools will merge this year.
Governors from the two secondary schools met on Wednesday night to agree the merger.
It is hoped a new Workington school will open in September.
The individual schools will close and then reopen as a single, new school, said Lynda Dalkin, headteacher of Southfield Technology College.
The schools hope to convert to individual academies before they merge.
The Government is looking at their applications and it is hoped a decision will be reached within weeks.
Consultation with staff, parents and children will take place about the academy conversion.
The new academy would be based on the Stainburn site and it is likely there would be some new-build elements to replace existing 1950s buildings there.
It is understood the town’s sixth form centre at Moorclose would also close.
Chris McGrath, headteacher of Stainburn School and Science College, said it was a long-term aim to establish a single site for a new school in Workington.
It is understood that year seven pupils who have applied to go to Southfield from September will be based at Stainburn, Southfield’s years eight and nine would transfer to Stainburn, and sixth form students would switch to the Southfield site.
Mr McGrath said: “Work starts now on developing a really exciting provision for Workington.
“It can bring about educational transformation for the town and finally deliver on what has been discussed and speculated on for several years.
“It is a bold and adventurous move but one which is absolutely necessary to secure excellence in our school.
“We’re very excited by the challenges ahead.
“We do not underestimate the size of the challenge, but neither are we daunted by it.”
Mrs Dalkin added: “Now we know what the future is likely to be we can direct our energies into the serious business of developing the very best educational opportunities for our children.”
The schools have been working on the scheme with the academies trust Bright Tribe.
Southfield and Stainburn have been working on a possible merger for about 10 years because of falling pupil numbers.
In 2010 the schools were earmarked for £61.5 million in the then Labour government’s Building Schools for the Future scheme.
But the scheme was scrapped when the coalition government came into power.
The schools are now awaiting the outcome of a bid under a new government programme, which could see Workington granted enough money to build a new school for 1,250 pupils.
The money would still go to the schools if they became an academy. The proposal is with the Department for Education and Mr McGrath said: “We are hopeful that we will be granted the money.”
First published at 12:41, Friday, 08 February 2013
Published by http://www.timesandstar.co.uk
Have your say
As stated in the News and Star the National Union of Teachers (NUT) claims that staff, parents and children are being railroaded into the merger and have not been properly consulted over the plans. Why was this merger not mentioned at the open evening for up coming students on the 31 Jan less than a week before it was all announced to current students they must have known it all seems far to fast. Understandably the merger of the two schools would happen in the future with the drop in pupil numbers, but why close the Sixth Form Centre before the new building has been completed. So many seem to forget that Sixth formers are currently doing their Aâ Levels âvoluntarilyâ to give them a better chance of gaining employment or enable them to progress to university so why disrupt their education by moving them prematurely to Southfield and then move them again once the new build is completed. Yes pupils doing GCSEâs need looked after but those doing AâLevels need it even more, now that there are no January exams the students will need as much support as possible to pass first time. Also universities can see how many times students take their AâLevels and can use this information on offering places. Is it not sensible to have absolute minimum disruption to Sixth Form education and help them gain their grades, in the long run if they obtain the grades that aids the schools reach their targets. If the schools are in the red which is also a large factor, why not close the Southfield site which is greatly underused but probably still costing a vast amount to run and carrying a much larger amount of staff to pupil ratio. Why not move all year 7-11 pupils and staff to Stainburn as it is a large capacity school as it stands and could easily accommodate portable classrooms like other local schools have to use and at least it would only be for a couple of years. As printed on the Department of Education website in Jan 2013 excluding 16-19 year old (Sixth Formers) the total number of pupils of Stainburn and Southfield is approximately 1100.
Bright Tribe have no right to ruin the education of Workington pupils. Do people know that they have not run any schools yet and have no track record at all? In the last six months they have only managed to talk 2 schools into joining them. Stainburn and Southfield are the only ones to have fallen for their talk in the last six months. They have not asked staff or parents what they want. What happens when it all goes pear-shaped which it will? The people of Workington do not need this.It is wrong that governors who never set foot in the two schools could decide for this to go ahead.Why does this have to be rushed? I think it would be better to tell Bright Tribe to come back when they have actually set up a school and can show that they can make a success of a school. Why should the children of Workington be their guinea-pigs?
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