VOTE: Parents will fight school closure plans

Skerton Community High School
Skerton Community High School

Parents have vowed to fight county council plans to consult over the possible closure of Skerton High School.

School head Chris Snell informed parents this week by letter of Lancashire County Council’s decision to approve a formal consultation procedure on August 5, with consultation set to begin early in the autumn term.

If agreed, the school will close on August 31 2014.

In the letter, Mr Snell said: “We would like to assure you at this early stage that we will do everything in our power as a school and governing body to ensure that this consultation and any subsequent decisions made as a result of it have the minimum possible impact on the pupils on roll in this school.

“This is obviously a worrying time for all connected to the school. We have had no say in this whatsoever, and apologise for any upset this may cause.”

Deputy head Lyndon Day added: “We are as concerned as parents will be about the possible disruption to progress that may be caused to these pupils at a crucial point in their education.

“To hear of the consultation is a big shock. Despite all this there is still a determination to do the best for pupils at the school as we have always done.”

The school, which was given an Ofsted category of “serious weaknesses” last month, has 192 pupils on roll.

Hazel Parry, whose 13-year-old son Ethan goes to Skerton High, said she was shocked by the news.

“We will do everything we can to fight this,” she said.

“Ethan has done absolutely brilliantly there. He has mild Asperger’s and he has come a long way since starting at Skerton. We haven’t looked back.

“We don’t have a clue what we would do if the school closed. I am worried sick because this is the best school for Ethan.”

Mrs Parry’s husband Bob emailed his concerns to MP David Morris and Lancashire County Council cabinet member for children and young people, Matthew Tomlinson.

“We chose Skerton precisely because it is small enough for each child to be treated and cared for as an individual,” he said.

“We do not want this school to close, we want our children to continue to grow and learn in the brilliant environment that this school provides.”

In a reply to Mr Parry, Mr Tomlinson said the school had “reached the stage where, in my opinion, it is no longer viable as a mainstream high school.”

Skerton councillor and Skerton governor Karen Leytham said: “I am deeply saddened and frustrated that Lancashire County Council have seen fit to announce the decision to consult on the future of our school immediately prior to the summer holidays.

“This extremely ill-timed decision has caused much anxiety and distress to pupils, parents, staff and governors alike.”

Louise Taylor, Lancashire County Council’s interim executive director for children and young people, said: “The cabinet member for children, young people and schools has been asked to approve a decision to begin a consultation on the future of Skerton High School, which would give parents, governors and everyone connected with the school the opportunity to have their say.”

A county council spokesman said that if the school is closed, parents will be able to express a preference for alternative schools and the county council will allocate places according to the preferences.

There are enough places available in the other Lancaster secondary schools for pupils affected by a possible closure.

Pupils in Year 10 would be accommodated at Central Lancaster High School and Our Lady’s Catholic College, where they would be able to continue with their GCSEs.

The spokesman said the timing of the announcement was due to the publication of the admissions prospectus for the September 2014 intake.