Pupils and parents protest over plans to close Whitby secondary school due to falling numbers

  • Video report by Jon Hill

Hundreds of parents in Whitby have vowed to fight plans to close one of the town's two secondary schools.

Local people rallied to save Eskdale School seven years ago when it was first threatened with closure but now governors of the town's schools say that with almost 150 empty school places it cannot carry on because of a shortage of pupils and cash.

And in part, some are blaming the high number of holiday and second homes, for pricing local families out of town.

The proposal would see Eskdale School closing and its pupils moving to the bigger Caedmon College.

Facing challenges: Eskdale School

School governors say the closure plan has been a tough decision but low pupil numbers at both schools and significant financial challenges are to blame.

Pupils and parents have made their views clear at the school gates.

Eskdale pupil Reegan Weatherill said: "I feel like we should all have a choice because we all had a choice to come here and I feel like that's being taken away from us."

Parent Sonya Kilpatrick said:"If you put all of these children into another school, a bigger school yes, but people start falling through the cracks, and people get pushed aside, don't get me wrong I'm sure Caedmon will try their very best but I feel because this is a smaller school, she (daughter) and all the rest of the kids get all they need here."

Even on a bleak winter's day Whitby remains as attractive as ever - but there's one view which is that the high number of holiday cottages and second homes is pricing out local families and that's contributing to a shortage of children to fill the town's two secondary schools.

Families are being priced out of picturesque Whitby

Sir Robert Goodwill MP Con Scarborough and Whitby said: "Last time this was proposed, since then the problem's got worse, we have fewer students going to school in Whitby and of course we know the reasons for that, second homes holiday cottages, the affordability for families, the problem hasn't gone away and this sadly is one of the symptoms."

In a statement the governors for Whitby Secondary Partnership, which represents the two schools said:

"We want to express that this in no way has been an easy decision for the governors to make, and we do acknowledge that this can be a very emotive topic, however in order to ensure that we can deliver a fit for purpose education to the young people within the community for the generations to come we feel it is the right decision.

"It will be our priority to ensure that we support all staff and students through any change and will be sensitive with how and when information is presented.

"A newly amalgamated school will provide the opportunity to develop a broader curriculum, with far more choice over subjects to study and access to a wider range of experiences both in and out of the classroom that currently aren’t available to us."

A formal consultation on the closure plan could start next month.

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