Call for all sides to unite in Witham schools issue to find best solution for children

Parents say 'unite behind our schools'.

Parents say 'unite behind our schools'. - Credit: PA

A parent campaigning against plans for two Witham secondary schools to merge has made a plea for all involved to work together to find the best solution.

John Nicholson is part of a parent group fighting against proposals from the Academies Enterprise Trust (AET) to join the New Rickstones and Maltings academies.

They prefer seeing the schools joined as part of a federation, a more costly option.

If approved the proposals, which are currently out for consultation, would see the schools combine from September 16 with potentially one site used for years seven to nine and the other for older pupils.

Witham MP Priti Patel has opposed the merger, and following news last week that the AET nationally had been issued with a Financial Notice to Improve by the Department for Education said the trust was not fit to run the schools.

However Mr Nicholson said: “Politicians and AET alike need to come together and get behind parents in support of what is a solution that parents believe would provide the best short and long-term needs for the education of children in Witham – federation.

“Failure to do so will result in plans by the AET to merge being the only viable option financially for them, followed by Ms Patel’s calls for AET’s licence to be revoked meaning that over the next two years our children’s education will not suffer one undesirable disruption but two.

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“Parents appeal to Ms Patel to get behind new proposals. Whilst she has her opinion of the AET our reality is they run both schools, and as such are the only people able to implement changes across both sites in order to secure equal opportunity of education for all children across Witham, which is as parents all we desire.”

A spokesman for the AET said: “We can confirm that strengthening the existing federation between the two schools through even closer co-operation, while both remain self-governing, is an option which is being seriously considered in response to the public consultation and to secure the short and longer term future of secondary education in the town.

“It is crucial that the right option is sought to enable both schools to continue to provide a broad and balanced curriculum throughout the years ahead.”

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