School name ‘could affect kids’ chances’

Skerton High School.
Skerton High School.

Parents of Year 10 pupils at Skerton High School fear their children’s futures may be hindered after being told their GCSE certificates will bear the name of a pupil referral unit.

Lancashire County Council sent letters out this week to the parents of the 28 Year 10 pupils, offering them the option of either choosing another school for their child to attend next year or accepting a place in a group which will remain at the Owen Road site.

However, the letter says those who stay on at Skerton with be held against the roll of the Chadwick Centre, a pupil referral unit on the Owen Road site.

Although the youngsters will be taught separately and will not officially attend the Chadwick Centre, parents now fear a stigma will be attached.

The Chadwick Centre opened in 2006 to cater for up to 24 pupils on respite programmes or who have been permanently excluded from school,

It will remain on the site after Skerton High closes this summer due to poor grades and falling numbers.

Sam Sargent, whose 14-year-old son Ben will be one of the students to remain on the site next year, said: “My concern is that if the children go on the roll of the Chadwick Centre, it will affect the chances of those applying for a job or a college place.

“People will see the name on their exam certificates and will automatically think they were at the referral unit.

“I don’t want my son to start again at another school because he would have to start his GCSEs from scratch and they only get one shot at taking them, but I don’t think it’s fair that if they stay on at Skerton they will be labelled as having been to the Chadwick Centre, when they haven’t.”

Skerton High chair of governors, Susan Willoughby, said: “The view of the governors is that the young people who remain on the site need to be put on the roll of a mainstream school.

“I am extremely angry that they have been given this bombshell during half term; it gives the parents no choice at all.

“I think it’s disgraceful that they have been put in this position.

“The parents need more information before they should have to make the decision but instead they are being panicked into it.

“It’s wrong that the children are being treated in this way. No child should suffer because their school is closing and there’s no doubt that these children are suffering.

Bob Stott, the county council’s director for universal and early support services, said: “The school will indeed formally close at the end of this academic year. Next year, we hope to provide continuity, if parents wish, for some Year 10 pupils by providing GCSE tuition on the site, and we’re still considering arrangements for management and curriculum planning.

“We recognise all families do have the right to exercise a preference for a different school and indeed some have already moved school prior to the closure.

“However, as Skerton High will no longer legally exist, pupils must be on the roll of another school and we have written to parents who wish to take up this offer to explain that this would be the Chadwick Centre.

“The closure of a school is always a difficult process and I recognise that this has caused considerable uncertainty for everyone involved.

“Our staff are doing their best within tight timescales and we will continue to work closely with the school and parents to make sure there is as little disruption to students’ education as possible.”

Meanwhile, Morecambe and Lunesdale MP David Morris has urged people to support a free school application for the school site.

He said: “I urge the parents whose children have had to move from other year groups to form a free school application, which would allow the School to re-open and continue for all age groups in 2015.

“Any parents or members of the community who would like to submit a free school application please contact my office on 01524 841225 or by email”

Mr Stott added: “Suggestions that a new free school could ‘reopen’ Skerton High could muddy the waters for pupils and parents who are already going through an emotional time.”