27th Oct, 2016

School shake up sparks row

Evesham Editorial 19th Dec, 2014 Updated: 20th Oct, 2016

A PROPOSED shake up of the school system in and around Pershore has sparked a furious war of words between town headteachers.

The furore began after Pershore High School revealed proposals to consult local parents and schools on possibly extending the school’s age range to include year seven pupils, aged 11 and 12.

Currently, youngsters at middle schools in the town transfer to the Station Road school when they reach year eight – usually at the age of 13-years-old.

But under the proposals being suggested by Pershore High School, pupils who reach year seven in September 2016 would move schools a year earlier.

Pershore High School headteacher Clive Corbett said the move was based on a upcoming revamp to the GCSE exams.

“The only decision made at this point is to consult in order to talk about the issue,” he said.

“Big changes to GCSE examination content and demands are just around the corner.

“These changes necessitate three years of teaching at GCSE, namely in years nine to 11.

“This has the corollary of youngsters in years seven and eight needing the specialist ground work at Key Stage 3.

“All need to be assured that the consultation is just that, a wish to raise the issue and listen to stakeholder feedback.

“I hope people know me well enough to know that is our genuine intention.

“I really hope that we can all have a meaningful discussion on the benefits and disadvantages of the proposal for all children in the Pershore area

However the proposals have been severely criticised by headteachers at all three middle schools which serve the town.

Among the opponents was Andrew Best, executive headteacher of St Nicholas CE in Pinvin

“Nationally there is no precedent for what is, effectively, a school-led reorganisation of the structure of our local education system, since the proposed changes are being instigated by Pershore High School, rather than as a result of a change of strategy by the local authority.” he said.

“We are carefully considering the suggestions that are being made, but there is no doubt that the removal of pupils from our middle schools would mean they would have to restructure significantly, since this group of pupils attracts a higher level of government funding than do younger pupils.

“I have had first-hand personal experience of the potentially damaging effects of such restructuring,

since I was an inspector of schools on the Isle of Wight, when schools there reorganised from the three-tier to the two-tier

system in 2013.

“It was not effective on a number of levels.” he added.

Consultation events will be held at Pershore High School on January 5 for staff, January 7 and 27 for High School parents from 6pm, January 13 and February 9 for stakeholders from 6pm and January 22 and February 4 with partner pyramid school parents from 6pm.

A meeting about the proposals will take place at Abbey Park Middle School on January 19, at 6.30pm.