Proposal to consult on amalgamation of schools approved

This story was published 7 February 2023

Plans have been approved to begin a public consultation on amalgamating two North Yorkshire schools amid falling pupil numbers.

Caedmon College Whitby

Executive member for education, learning and skills, Cllr Annabel Wilkinson, today (Tuesday, 7 February) agreed to the consultation on amalgamating Caedmon College and Eskdale School in Whitby.

The governing body of the Whitby Secondary Partnership, which is responsible for managing the two schools, requested the proposal.

Eskdale, Caedmon College and Whitby Sixth Form federated in July 2019, sharing an executive headteacher and a governing body.

But the combined pressures of falling pupil numbers and financial challenges faced by both schools, prompted the proposal amalgamate.

The proposal which will now be consulted on, will involve the technical closure of Eskdale School and pupils and staff will be moved to Caedmon College, which will become a new school from 1 September 2024.

Cllr Wilkinson said: “We have agreed to the request to consult on the proposal to amalgamate Eskdale School and Caedmon College. The council will now begin work on a public consultation, which people will be able to take part in online, or in person.

“The six-week consultation period will open on 20 February and public meetings will be held on 8 March. Details of how to take part in the public consultations will be advertised by North Yorkshire County Council in due course.

“This will be an opportunity for people to find out more about the proposal, as well as share their comments or ask questions. The feedback will be collated and reviewed as a key part of this process.”

Caedmon College has 783 pupils on roll, but capacity for 1,530, while Eskdale has 406 pupils, with capacity for 550. It amounts to a surplus of 40 per cent of secondary places in Whitby.

Members of the governing body feel the cost of maintaining three sites impacts on the schools’ ability to invest in students education and attainment. The money saved would allow them to invest in a broader curriculum which can offer pupils more opportunities and the chance to develop skills which meet their needs.

The consultation will close on 31 March and the county council’s executive will then consider the responses at its meeting on 18 April, at which point it will decide whether to progress to the next stage of the statutory process.

If this is approved, then a further representation period would follow before a final decision by the new North Yorkshire Council in June.

Although a final decision would be taken in this academic year, if plans to close the Eskdale school site was made, Eskdale School would not technically close until September 2024, when the newly-named amalgamated school would begin to operate.

If plans to close the Eskdale School site are pursued, it will be returned to local authority management. Decisions about the future use of the Eskdale site would be taken after the decision to amalgamate was made. Any decision would need to consider the 3G floodlit sports pitch on the school site.