Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Parents in Dark on School Merger Plan; MP Demands Answers from DfE Chiefs

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Parents in Dark on School Merger Plan; MP Demands Answers from DfE Chiefs

Article excerpt

Byline: Nicola Weatherall

AN MP is demanding answers over plans to merge a private school with the local state primary after it emerged parents and council chiefs had been kept in the dark about the proposals.

Tynemouth MP Alan Campbell said he found it "astonishing" that nobody had been informed about proposals for the town's King's School to form an independent academy with Priory Primary. A letter announcing the plans was sent to Mr Campbell and North Tyneside Council from the Department for Education on Monday - just one day before the start of the new term.

This was shortly followed by an announcement for parents which was posted on both schools' websites, which said the Kings Priory Academy would open in September 2013.

Last night Mr Campbell said: "I am not intrinsically against academies, but I am really unhappy with how this has been announced. The letter I received on Monday was dated July 12, which implies ministers agreed to this a while ago. For the local authority to be kept out of the loop as well is astonishing."

Parents currently pay King's around pounds 9,000 a year, and though this level of funding is unlikely to be matched when it becomes an academy, the move to state-fund the school will cost many millions of pounds a year.

Last night Mr Campbell said he was concerned how the plans could affect neighbouring schools. He said: "I will be asking questions of the DfE and I want assurances that the cost of the new academy will not come at the cost of resources for other schools in North Tyneside, which are in need of refurbishment or rebuilding work.

"The pupil roll at King's has been falling in recent years and is down by about 30%. To save the King's school can not be allowed if it adversely affects other secondary schools in the area, such as Marden High or John Spence. …

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