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St Bees parents 'angry' about school's 2016 plan

Parents campaigning to save St Bees school says they're "surprised and angry" about the governors' decision to re-open the school in 2016.

Parents say the school should stay open this summer rather than forcing children to go elsewhere for one year.

A spokesperson for the governors has told ITV Border it is no longer feasible to continue with the current school model. Katie Hunter reports:

Governors say St Bees School could re-open in 2016

St Bees School Credit: ITV Border

Governors of a 400-year-old independent school in west Cumbria set to close this summer say they have identified a number of opportunities that could see the school survive.

It was announced earlier this year that St Bees School would close at the end of the summer term as falling pupil numbers had made its financial position unsustainable.

However, parents of pupils at the school set up a Save St Bees School campaign and the governing body now says the school could re-open in September 2016.

"Over the past month the Governors have identified a number of opportunities for a sustainable future for St Bees School. This work has necessarily been undertaken discretely and without publicity so as not to cause further distraction to the school community.

"The identified opportunities include both independent and maintained school models. However, regardless of the model adopted, the Governors are determined that the outcome will retain the ethos, values and good name of St Bees School.

"As a next stage in the process of securing the future, the Governors have made arrangements for suitably qualified third parties to undertake feasibility and other studies to allow further consideration and more extensive exploration of the available opportunities with relevant parties.

"The Governors intend, as soon as it is practicable to do so and certainly no later than mid-June, to arrange for consultation with all stakeholders and, in particular, the local community.

"The Governors have arranged for the establishment of a small project team of suitably qualified individuals to lead this transition work and it is anticipated that this team will, over the summer, assume many of the incumbent Board’s responsibilities and will form the core of a new Board of Governors as St Bees moves on to a new phase in its development.

It would be premature to speculate on the final outcomes and timescales. However plans are being made for the security and maintenance of assets following the end of the current term and the aim of the Governors is that St Bees School will re-open in September 2016."

– St Bees School Governors

However, the Save St Bees School campaign group has accused the governing body of failing to explain exactly what they mean about the future of the school.

"Once again the Governors have failed in their duty to engage with parents and stakeholders of the school. They announced the school was to close without warning, and now they issue a statement which raises more questions than answers.

"When will the Governors realise they have lost all credibility with parents, pupils, staff and the wider community and how are they going to explain to these stakeholders what this latest statement actually means for the future of our school?"

– Save St Bees School campaign group


St Bees campaigners meet to consider injunction

St Bees.

Campaigners are meeting this afternoon to consider whether to pursue legal action against the governors of St Bees school.

The 400-year-old school is closing this year because of falling pupil numbers, and because the governors say it is not financially sustainable.

But campaigners say they don't feel the governors have considered all of the options, and this afternoon they will decide whether to seek an injunction, to stop the closure.

Save St Bees send petition to Archbishop of Canterbury

Credit: ITV Border

Campaigners fighting against the closure of a 400-year-old west Cumbrian Independent school have sent a petition to the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Save St Bees Campaign are calling for Archbishop Justin Welby to support their plan for the existing governing body at the school to resign.

The group argues if this were to happen, they could look to continue providing education on the school site under different governors.

They claim their petition has more than a thousand signatures.

St Bees governors to meet Charity Commission

Credit: ITV Border

The Charity Commission says it is planning to meet the governors of a closure-threatened independent school in West Cumbria.

St Bees, which has charitable status, first announced on 13 March it would shut this summer because of falling pupil numbers.

About a thousand people have signed a petition calling for the school's governors to resign.

"We have recently received complaints informing us of the governors' plan to close the school.

"We have contacted the governors for information regarding the situation and the decisions that were taken, and to make them aware of the importance of reporting serious incidents to us.

"The governors have responded to us and we are currently planning a meeting with them."

– Spokesperson for the Charity Commission

A spokesperson for the school told ITV Border that St Bees contacted the Charity Commission after a public meeting in April:

"The Commission issues specific guidance about reporting serious incidents and the Charity would always observe such guidance, however none of the categories covered by that guidance has arisen.

"Nevertheless the Charity has been advised that following a decision to close St Bees School a notification should be made and that was done after the meeting of 16 April 2015 when the Governors confirmed the decision to proceed to an orderly closure."

– Spokesperson, St Bees School

Castle Douglas library to move during refurbishment work

Credit: PA

A temporary Library and IT suite will be set up from Thursday 30 April in Castle Douglas while the Library building is closed for refurbishments.

Dumfries and Galloway Council says the work is necessary as part of plans to bring together the Customer Service Centre, Library and Registration office in the town.

The existing Library building will close at 12pm on Wednesday 29 April, and is expected to be closed for 12 weeks while work is completed.

A reduced selection of books will be available in a replacement facility in the Market Street building, which will have the following opening hours:

  • Monday, 9am until 5pm
  • Tuesday, 1pm until 7pm
  • Wednesday, 9am until 12pm
  • Thursday, 9am until 5pm
  • Friday, 9am until 5pm
  • Saturday, 10am until 1m
  • Sunday, closed


Richard Rose Central Academy out of Special Measures

Credit: ITV Border

Carlisle's Richard Rose Central Academy has come out of Special Measures, according to the results of an Ofsted inspection in March.

It was the first inspection since the Academy was taken over by United Learning in September 2014.

In its findings, leadership of the academy was graded as Good, while all other areas were judged to Require Improvement.

In their report, inspectors praised staff and pupils, and said "there has been a marked improvement in the behaviour of students and the attitudes they display."

However, inspector's also said that several areas still required improvement, including achievement of pupils, behaviour and safety of pupils, and inconsistencies in some areas of teaching.

The Academy says it is encouraged by Ofsted's report.

This is very good news with which to begin the summer term.

"Everyone at the academy knows that it is a very different place to several years ago and we are all encouraged by this recognition by Ofsted that the changes we have introduced are having a demonstrable impact.”

– Neil Hutchinson, Headteacher of the academy
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