I have recently been enthralled in the latest "mouth hung open" actions of our local council North Tyneside, by threatening a legal challenge to prevent the merger of the local comprehensive Priory Primary and the local Private School Kings, joining to make an academy in Tynemouth.
For those not up to date: Both schools are rated "Outstanding" however due to the recent recession Kings who charge £10k a year have seen a drop in 50% of pupil admissions, it would have seen numbers fall even further and like La Sagesse in Newcastle would have had to close forever. Priory Primary has the opposite problem being one of few state Primary schools rated "Outstanding" by ofsted in the area, it is therefor massively over subscribed. So it was decided to merge the two becoming a "hybrid" of both schools, for the local community which will be funded not by the local council but by the Department of Education and will be run independently.
Kings is one of many private schools around the country who have applied to become an Academy but this is the first ever to include a state primary school so it will not only be a one of a kind school but a historic moment also. The plans were announced last September and it was "full steam ahead" however it is now in jeopardy as Labour has recently been put into power at our last local election and the newly appointed Mayor Norma Redfearn seems to enjoy devils advocate and wasting our local tax payers money; the council its self is also one of only two in the country who have admitted to being against Academy's.
The story has even made the national news, see link below.
Now from the outset I should say a few things:
1. Both my brothers attended the "Old" Kings school, I myself didn't get in due to mild dyslexia and didn't pass the entrance exam. Thankfully I went to the marvellous St Thomas Moore and actually ended up with better GCSE results than both of them...make of that what you will.
2.Due to the above I have to say I am against fee paying education, I think "Outstanding" education should be available to all no matter what your address, religion or bank balance is.
3. This wont even apply to me until September 14, as my oldest son is only 3, I therefor have not yet become obsessed with league tables or considered a fake address next to the "best" schools or taught him Mandarin,...you know for a competitive edge.
4. Although I used to live in Tynemouth I don't anymore and will probably be just out of the catchment anyway.
So having said all of that I can still only see this as a positive move for the community and as it was consulted with parents of both schools 90% of them also agree. I'm sure there were some understandably upset parents and pupils of the "old" Kings school but there is still a lot of other private education in the area should you be able to afford it for your child. I'm sure there are parents and pupils in other local schools worried thinking "Will our school suffer as a result?" but as its not going to be funded by the local authority it wont take any funding away, so If the merger is allowed I can only see that it would make breathing space in class sizes for everyone.
I am really annoyed by this legal challenge not just because of what it could mean but its the huge cost of tax payers money that will be involved. NTC a council who already somehow need to save £40million have stuck their nose in at the last minute. It is in my view very irresponsible of the council to object at such a late stage in the plans as it was only ever going to cause mass anxiety. It is only weeks until children break up for summer, with such uncertainty; can you imagine having a little one starting reception or a big one about to start their GCSE year and not knowing where they are going to be?! It has been badly thought through by incompetent management in the council and is at best petty. Ironic that the Kings school motto is "Moribus Civilis" meaning "Behave Properly".
This great weather spell has only made me worse as if we fancy a park day trip there is nowhere decent in the local area. "Dog crap Park" aka Northumberland Park ironically 2mins away from these schools is an absolute disgrace; dirty, broken and overgrown. There are no longer ducks to feed, no café or toilets either and it has been public knowledge that flashers and other perverts are lurking around. After a relative of mine was approached by a disturbing man last year while walking with a pram I wouldn't dream of going there alone again never mind with my children. Myself and my friends much prefer the fantastic Ridley Park or Morpeth Park both in Northumberland or Marine Park or Bede Park both in South Tyneside, even the nice park in Whitley Bay is not in the same league as these and always overcrowded on any day its not raining.
I would erg the council and Norma Redfearn to allow this much needed merger to go ahead and spend the money that would be wasted in a legal challenge on Northumberland Park or potholes or paving or free parking at Rake Lane or any free parking. I honestly haven't met one person against. Tynemouth has been described as a jewel in North Tyneside's crown, let this merger happen and be the jewel in Tynemouth's crown.
If you support this and want to get involved please:
1.Sign the online petition below and encourage your partners and family to as well.
2. Facebookers, join the page below for all the latest updates and other ways to help or get involved.
"Parents supporting Kings Priory Merger"
3. Write a letter to the council and or Mayor, there is help and a template on the Facebook page if you wish.