Whitby Town Council

Information for Residents & Visitors

Town Clerk: Michael King
Whitby Town Council, Pannett
Park, Whitby, North Yorkshire
YO21 1RE

Objection to the proposals affecting Eskdale School and Caedmon College

Objection to the proposals affecting Eskdale School and Caedmon College

The Town Council has written in response to the notice of statutory proposals by North Yorkshire Council: Part 1 – Eskdale School – Discontinuance; and Part 2 – Caedmon College Whitby – Increase in the published admission number.

Whitby Town Council objects to the proposals to amalgamate Caedmon College Whitby and Eskdale School, resulting in the technical closure of Eskdale School and the Eskdale site. It is the council's understanding that the consultation process has been inadequate, and the views of parents and the community have neither been properly considered nor listened to.

Whitby Town Council strongly believes that any decision regarding the future of our local schools should be made with the input of all stakeholders, including parents, teachers, and local residents. Unfortunately, it appears that the consultation process was not sufficiently robust or inclusive and the decision making process of the Local Education Authority was cursory and largely dismissive of the many legitimate objections raised by the community.

There has been very little information provided to parents about the proposed amalgamation, and many have expressed the view that they have not had the opportunity to fully understand the implications of this decision. Furthermore, it seems that the concerns and objections have been largely ignored by those in charge of the consultation process. This is evidenced by the failure of the governing body to accept an invitation to address the town council and the lack of engagement experienced at the two public sessions conducted at Whitby Pavilion on 8 March 2023 – which was the only public consultation event undertaken by the LEA or the Whitby Secondary Partnership.

The town council is aware of legitimate concerns articulated by parents and others over the process that has been followed by the governing body in making its initial request to the local education authority to undertake this amalgamation. The town council believes that a fuller explanation is required of the process followed, whether decisions by the governing body in this regard are properly constituted, whether full and meaningful figures have been disclosed to justify the decision to close the Eskdale site over any other within the Federation based on pupil numbers, utilisation of existing capacity, the extent of remedial works required under the proposals versus a 'do nothing' baseline, the capital value of any land declared surplus and the utilisation of any asset arising from the technical closure of the Eskdale site. The published figures do not show a full analysis of options other than the one proposed, which does not enable a full and proper comparison of the available options to be made.

Statutory guidance states, "Although there is no longer a statutory 'pre-publication' consultation period for prescribed alteration changes, there is a strong expectation that governing bodies and local authorities will consult interested parties in developing their proposal prior to publication, to take into account all relevant considerations…" (Making significant changes ('prescribed alterations') to maintained schools Statutory guidance for proposers and decision makers - January 2023)

This has not occurred.

The town council urges you to reconsider the proposed amalgamation of these two schools, or to request the withdrawal of the proposal by the governing body, and to engage in a more meaningful and transparent consultation process with the local community. It is important that any decision regarding the future of our schools is made in a way that is transparent, accountable, and addresses the views and needs of all stakeholders. Whitby Town Council calls on North Yorkshire County Council (and henceforth North Yorkshire Council) as local education authority to conduct a full, systemic and independent review of education provision in Whitby, within the catchment of the existing secondary schools, to include nursery, pre-school, early years, infant, primary, secondary and further education facilities and opportunities to ensure that the current and future needs of the Whitby area are properly understood and provided for. Such a consultation should enable all relevant considerations to be reviewed before any specific proposal is made.

There should have been greater efforts to engage with the community and to respond to legitimate questions arising from the consultation.

The Governing Body of the Schools' Federation has ignored repeated requests to attend a meeting of the town council, which is the proper way in which the town council should be engaged as a core consultee in this process.

Until such time as the Governing Body is prepared to meet with the town council, Whitby Town Council will not recognise the legitimacy of this process and will maintain that position publicly.

The proposals are set out on North Yorkshire Council's website.

Objections can be made by writing to North Yorkshire Council, County Hall, Northallerton, DL7 8AD, or by emailing schoolorganisation@northyorks.gov.uk by 5pm on 25 May 2023.

Posted: Fri, 12 May 2023 12:13 by Clerk's Account

Tags: Eskdale School, North Yorkshire Council