Workington schools in new move over merger
Last updated at 13:43, Friday, 04 January 2013
Plans for a new secondary school in Workington could take two major steps forward by the spring.
Southfield Technology College and Stainburn School and Science College have been working on a possible merger for more than four years amid falling pupil numbers.
The schools are awaiting the outcome of a bid under the Government’s Priority Schools Building Programme.
It could see Workington granted enough money to build a new school for 1,250 pupils, which is the capacity that ministers have calculated is needed.
A decision is expected by the end of March.
Both schools are also working with academy trust Bright Tribe with a view to coming out of county council control and eventually forming a single academy.
Each board of governors is expected to decide by the end of February whether to begin the process to become an academy, which would include consultation with parents.
Malcolm Butler, chairman of governors at Southfield, said: “A new school is a great opportunity and I think Workington should grab it with both hands.
“It’s a long-term legacy. It’s not something for the next two or three years, it’s something for the next 20 to 25 years.”
The schools were earmarked £61.5million in April 2010 to build a new school but the money was lost when the new Government scrapped Labour’s Building Schools for the Future scheme.
Although they were earmarked some money last year under the Priority Schools Building Programme, the amount has not yet been revealed.
The latest bid to the same scheme has been compiled directly with the Government rather than through Cumbria County Council.
The Government aims for schools which are given funding to complete building work ready for the 2014-15 academic year.
Commenting on the academy discussions, Mr Butler said that remaining in county council control was still an option for both schools and the council was supporting them as they explored all possibilities.
He added: “It’s trying to make sure that the destiny of both schools is in the hands of the schools themselves rather than a third party.
“One new school is the logical solution. Workington purely can’t sustain two separate secondary schools to St Joseph’s.
“It would be good to get a new school because it would get us away from the Southfield/Stainburn argument.
“I’m really optimistic about it. Both schools have got really good strengths. I’d like to see those strengths combined.”
It is understood that the existing money earmarked under the Priority Schools Building Programme would still go to the schools if they became academies.
Under government rules, schools which are rated as satisfactory under the old Ofsted scheme or in need of improvement under the new scheme can only become academies if they secure a sponsor – either a business or another school.
Stainburn and Southfield both fall into this category.
Nobody from Stainburn School could be contacted for comment.
A statement on the school’s website said there would be a formal consultation in January about the pros and cons of formally joining with Bright Tribe.
Bright Tribe representatives are soon expected to visit both schools.
First published at 13:29, Friday, 04 January 2013
Published by http://www.timesandstar.co.uk
Have your say
@Nick on 5 January 2013 at 01:20I think you will find that if you read the latest (Dec 2012) Ofsted report for Stainburn school & Science College, you will see that the behaviour and safety of pupils is rated as 'good'.
I think this is a terrible idea purely because this is unsettling for the children in both schools and could cause panick for them as they will be mixed in with new children in a new school. also where to put it?! Most children live near there schools or can get transport e.c.t to it but what if they can get to this new school! I disagree for this to happen :/
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