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Merger plan revealed for Cumbrian senior schools

Workington's Stainburn and Southfield senior schools want to merge.

Stainburn school photo
Stainburn school

Governors of both schools have each agreed to apply for academy status and that is being considered by the Department for Education. A decision is due within weeks.

They have also voted in principle to immediately start working more closely together in a bid to reduce budget deficits.

The schools are proposing to become part of the Bright Tribe Trust multi-academy trust.

Subject to conversion approvals being granted, it is then likely the schools will amalgamate, with the first phase of this happening as early as September.

As part of the plan, the town's joint sixth form centre at Needham Drive, Moorclose, will close.

Chris McGrath, head of Stainburn School and Science College and Lynda Dalkin, head of Southfield Technology College, informed sixth formers of the plan at a meeting this lunchtime.

The schools want to become a single academy based at Stainburn, where new buildings would be constructed.

Initially, it is proposed that year 7 pupils who have applied to go to Southfield from September will instead go to Stainburn.

Southfield's years 8 and 9 will all transfer to Stainburn over a period of time while years 10 and 11 will stay at the Moorclose Road site.

Sixth form students will move to Southfield for two years until building work is completed at Stainburn.

The merger plans would be subject to consultation with parents, pupils and staff.

Southfield and Stainburn have been working on a possible merger for more than four years.

They 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 next month.

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 A’ Levels ‘voluntarily’ 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 GCSE’s need looked after but those doing A’Levels 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 A’Levels 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.

Posted by Concerned parent on 20 February 2013 at 22:13

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?

Posted by A member of staff on 20 February 2013 at 15:57

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