I found it hard to stomach the damning words of County Councillor Matthew Tomlinson (School’s out for good at Skerton, July 17) regarding the closure of Skerton High School. Talk about kicking a man when he’s down and out.
What makes it worse in reading such hurtful sentiments is that it obviously echoes the view of people who will have no idea what it is like to try and teach in a school like Skerton.
It is the socio-economics of Skerton’s hinterland that is the problem and not the implied criticism of the staff in Mr Tomlinson’s comments. That won’t be solved by closing a proud school and sending off its intake to all points.
It is within living memory that Skerton was regarded as the town’s third grammar school when the then intake included bussed-in children from Ulverston, Grange and the reaches of the Lune Valley.
Over the past 40 years much has changed with Skerton becoming the neighbourhood school for a district with well documented problems and where generationally little value is placed in formal education.
Try teaching where a rapprochement between home values and school expectations doesn’t exist.
For many years now successive staff at Skerton have tried to square that circle and in so doing eased the pressure on other town schools. I’ve often thought what the outcome would be if the Skerton staff had been experimentally able to job swap with another town school say for a two year period. I’ve got a very good idea what it would be. So would the majority of teachers in Lancaster and Morecambe.
Well now we shall see what happens. The closure of Skerton comes in the wake of the closure of Hornby High School, both of which were geared up to deal with children with special and often complex needs. No such main stream school now exists locally.
The proof of the pudding may well take five years to emerge.
Our Lady’s, Central and Morecambe Highs are due to absorb most of the Skerton intake. It is their staffs who are now charged with lowering exclusion rates, increasing attendance and ensuring that their new arrivals, who may be struggling when they arrive, are not still struggling when they leave.
As for Mr Tomlinson and his comments an insincere thank you to all Skerton staff present and past would have been a preferable send off for fighting the good fight.
J H Glaister (Retired D/Headteacher, Acting H/T)
Head of Related Studies
Skerton School 1973-75.