Last week I submitted a letter to the Lancashire County Council consultation about the future of Skerton Community High School. In the letter I made a number of key points.
Firstly, in the consultation document Lancashire County Council stated as one of the reasons for the potential closure is the falling pupil numbers.
The point I made in response is that Skerton has been threatened with closure for a number of years, is it any wonder with this constant threat looming that parents are not sending their children to Skerton?
Just over half of the pupils at Skerton have special educational needs; it has become apparent to me that Mr Snell and his team provide a high level of pastoral care which is something that appears to be appreciated by pupils and parents alike.
I should also add that I have not received one negative email about Skerton Community High School, all of the emails I have received have been positive about the school.
The consultation lists several schools that pupils from Skerton could attend as an alternative to Skerto; as I said to the consultation two of these schools are grammar schools which will not be suitable to some of the pupils at Skerton, some are faith schools which may not be suitable to all parents which leaves only three schools.
I doubt these three schools will have the capacity to accommodate all of the pupils.
I have published the full letter on my website and on Friday I will address pupils at Skerton Community High School to try to boost morale ahead of the half-term break.
On Thursday, October 31, I will be taking a group of pupils to Downing Street to present their petition to 10 Downing Street.
David Morris MP
Morecambe and Lunesdale
Pupils back their school
I am writing to inform everyone why we, the pupils of Skerton Community High School, do not wish to see this school closed down next year.
The closure of this school would affect so many lives, pupils and teachers alike, so please let me explain why Skerton Community High School should not close.
Skerton is a small school compared to others in the district. Some people might not understand the advantages of having a small school.
For a start, every teacher knows your name and your personality.
With that, they know how to give you the help you need to suit your style of learning. This gives the students a feeling of safety, knowing who they can turn to if they need support. There is an aura of friendliness, something I think so many of the larger schools might lack.
I know from my own experience how Skerton has helped me. In the larger schools that I went to before coming here, I could go for days without linking a name to a teacher.
There was even one teacher who couldn’t remember my name after I had been in his class for a month; I was just a blur. I felt lost and totally alone and if it wasn’t for the Skerton staff, I wouldn’t be half the person I am today.
Many of the pupils in Skerton have come here from other schools. Slowly they have settled in, have made new friends and are now part of a team. Most importantly, they enjoy coming to school.
They now feel anxious about possibly having to move again after they have just found a place where they want to stay. They could be faced with having to go back to the school that they originally moved away from for whatever reason.
After I finish my GCSEs, I hope to go to Ripley Sixth Form and, had it not been for Skerton, I would not have had the confidence to aspire to work my hardest and aim to go somewhere that I really wanted to go to.
The parents of the students are opposed to the closure, so many members of the public are against the closure and we are doing everything we can to prevent it.
So, will you join us? Will you stand with us and speak with the pupils? Together we say: “Mr Tomlinson, please, please, please do not close down our school”.
Skerton Community High School
New vision is way ahead
For parents, the decision about which school their children go to is one of the most important they make and over the past 20 years I’ve made this decision at primary and secondary school for each of my four children. We all know that getting a good education lays the foundations for many of the choices we make as an adult, including getting a decent job and having a secure future – choosing the right school is central to this. The stakes become higher for some of our most vulnerable young people who often have additional needs.
In the coming weeks as the future of Skerton Community High School is decided, I would therefore urge all parties to put the children’s needs for a high quality, well rounded education at the forefront of any considerations.
This starts with being honest about the current situation at the school.
While there are individual success stories, in general results at the school are very poor when compared with similar schools with similar intakes.
Ofsted inspections for over a decade have seen the school move in and out of special measures, and parents are showing a significant lack of confidence by voting with their feet and sending their children to other local schools.
It is clear that pupils and parents have been let down by an inspection system that makes critical ‘snap shot’ judgements and by leaders at local and national level who have failed to properly support the school to improve.
These things combined have led to dwindling number of pupils and ever decreasing funding making it harder and harder for the school to succeed.
This cannot be allowed to continue.
Successive county councils should have acted much sooner to prevent this disastrous situation and David Morris MP should have been working alongside the school and county council three years ago to raise standards – not just stepping up when we have reached crisis point.
Led by parents, the community need a vision for this school and new leadership in place to realise it.
One option could see the school converted into a university technical college or studio school to extend the range of technical and vocational options on offer across the district.
This would give the area and the school a unique offer that speaks to many of the aspirations of local people. This is just one idea and over the coming weeks I’ll be speaking to local people about all of the viable options so that we can create a credible plan that ensures no child’s educational success is limited simply by the school they attend.
Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for Morecambe and Lunesdale
Moor help the better
My daughter is doing her history dissertation on asylums and would be grateful for any information from anyone who had relatives in Lancaster Moor pre-1948. She has already been to the Lancashire Records Office in Preston where most of the information is archived.
91 Appleby Road
Cumbria LA9 6HE
Footie past is not bunk
Following the article published in the Lancaster Guardian in June 2013, Bagot: a man without equal, your letters section received some very supportive letters from Joe Sherrington, John Townson, Jimmy Fagan and from Australia, Alan Jackson all praising John Bagot’s administration skills and love of tradition.
Henry Ford commented in 1916: “I wouldn’t give a nickel for all the history in the world. It means nothing to me. History is more or less bunk. It’s tradition. We don’t want tradition. We want to live in the present and the only history that is worth a tinker’s damn is the history we make today.”
I think the myopic Mr Ford and the management committee of the North Lancashire and District Football League have much in common.
St Leonards Court
Spruce up our history
Does Lancaster have what it takes to become a beacon for the arts?
I highly doubt it. Lancaster Council has, over the years, successfully wrecked anything that was vaguely historic, interesting and attractive about the city.
In an AA road map of 1972, Lancaster was described as a ‘drab Northern town’. It remains that.
Culture is unknown – I regularly run the gauntlet of drunks, pools of sick and police clustered on the museum steps just to get to the library.
Rather than a string of arts events, where people are stuck in their cars queuing to pay extortionate parking fees, wouldn’t it be better to make the most of attractive buildings.
Lancaster is already hostage to students, with their accommodation threatening to take over.
We should be looking to York and Chester as models.
Name and address supplied.