Proposed changes for two coastal secondary schools could herald “the start of a new chapter” for education in the area, politicians say, raising aspirations and improving options for students.
There has been much debate over recent years about the future for Whitby’s Eskdale School and Caedmon College, with many changes having been considered since 2010. There are falling pupil numbers in the area, said Conservative Scarborough and Whitby MP Robert Goodwill, which has impacted on the rolls at all settings and put in danger sixth form provision as well as reducing the variety of subjects on offer to students.
Formal consultations were launched on Friday to federate the two secondaries – maintaining separate schools but creating a new sixth form centre, funded by the North Yorkshire Coast Opportunity Area.
This option, argue MPs and local councillors, could be the most sustainable to secure a quality of education for the area.
“This is the start of a new chapter for quality education in Whitby,” said Mr Goodwill. “We now should be in a much better position to ensure we keep a sixth form in Whitby. I’m optimistic that this is the start of a new cooperation that can sustain that.”
Traditionally, he added, there has been a rivalry between those on east and west sides of the river. With these proposals, he said, the whole of Whitby could get behind education provision.
“I’m more confident than ever before that we can deliver high quality education, right through, in Whitby,” he said. “And any savings that can be made will, I hope, also mean there’s more money available for frontline teaching.”
Whitby West Cliff councillor Joseph Plant, added: “I very much support the proposal – it’s a good solution for Whitby and the district. We do have to move forward, for the children’s sake. This is a sustainable option.”
The consultation would see Eskdale School and Caedmon College Whitby form a federation called the Whitby Secondary Partnership. This, they stress, would maintain two separate schools for students aged 11-16 on the current Eskdale and Normanby sites, setting up a new Whitby Sixth Form centre on the Scoresby site from September. The federation would have a single governing body, but each school would retain separate staff, buildings and budgets.
Sir Martin Narey, chairman of the North Yorkshire Coast Opportunity Area, said he had been impressed by cooperative efforts thus far to find a sustainable solution, which could improve the social mobility prospects for children in the area. “Nothing has been more important than ensuring that Whitby has a top class sixth form,” he added.
The consultation runs until February 1, with meetings to be held in mid January for parents.