Pupils’ wish for school to remain open

Skerton High School.
Skerton High School.

Pupils at Skerton High School said the best Christmas present they could have received was for their school to stay open.

As part of a festive project, the pupils in the school’s nurture group wrote about what they wanted for Christmas.

Among the usual things such as games, toys and sweets, and for their families to be happy, several children talked about wanting their school to stay open.

Those included Year 7 pupil Tilly Downs, who said: “I am 11 years old and what I want for Christmas is for Skerton High School to stay open because I would not like to go and leave my friends and teachers.”

Teachers, parents and pupils are currently in limbo after Lancashire County Council announced that a statutory notice of the proposal to close the school will be published in January.

Officers say falling role numbers and low grades are to blame. This followed a period of public consultation in which thousands of people signed petitions and parents launched a campaign group in a bid to keep the school open.

Most respondents to the consultation opposed the proposal because of the school’s ‘unique’ and inclusive ethos, as well as its pastoral care and support for its students, a high proportion of whom have special educational needs.

After a meeting between Morecambe and Lunesdale MP David Morris and education minister Lord Nash, an adviser from the Department of Education visited the school.

The adviser will now consider whether the school is providing a unique education, and if that proves to be the case, and they believe the school is failing Ofsted standards, they will report back to Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove, who has the power to turn the school into a sponsored academy, or a “free school”.

This would mean the school comes under the direct control of central government and a “sponsor” which is able to influence the processes at the school, including its curriculum, ethos and specialism.

As part of the statutory notice process, interested parties will have a further six weeks for written representations in the New Year.

A final decision on the future of the school is now due in April. But for now, all the children can do is hope that next Christmas they will still be Skerton High pupils.