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Witham: MP Priti Patel voices opposition to merger of Maltings and New Rickstones Academies

PUBLISHED: 16:31 15 October 2014 | UPDATED: 16:31 15 October 2014

Priti Patel, Witham MP.

Priti Patel, Witham MP.

An Essex MP has voiced concerns over plans for two schools to merge.

The Academies Enterprise Trust (AET) is proposing to merge New Rickstones and Maltings Academies in Witham to form one combined school from September 2016.

The trust says the move will allow better use of resources and a wider curriculum, while also helping to address an imbalance in pupil numbers at the two schools.

It is proposing to group years seven to nine at one site, with years 10 and 11 at the other.

A consultation on the changes ends on November 7, at which point the AET will ask the Department for Education for permission to go ahead with the merger.

But Witham MP Priti Patel has opposed the move and has raised her concerns with the education minister.

Ms Patel said: “AET’s academy merger plans are unconvincing and could have a harmful effect on school standards. Parents are incredibly worried that standards will fall and are disappointed that the merger will lead to a reduction in choice of secondary education.

“At a consultation meeting AET failed to explain how their plans would improve standards and choice and their main focus was on financial considerations. Parents and pupils deserve much better and AET should look again and take these ill thought through merger plans off the table.”

A spokesman for AET said: “This is a wide ranging consultation exercise and we are listening to, and taking account of, all the views being expressed at this time.

“It is absolutely essential that the right solution is found to ensure that all young secondary aged students in the local community are guaranteed a broad and balanced curriculum in the future.”

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