This letter was sent to The Visitor on 22nd October.
For parents, the decision about which school their children go to is one of the most important they make – over past 20 years I’ve made this decision at primary and secondary school for each of my four children. We all know that getting a good education lays the foundations for many of the choices we make as an adult including getting a decent job and having a secure future – choosing the right school is central to this. The stakes become higher for some of our most vulnerable young people who often have additional needs.
In the coming weeks as the future of Skerton Community High School is decided, I would therefore urge all parties to put the children’s needs for a high quality, well rounded education at the forefront of any considerations.
This starts with being honest about the current situation at the school. Whilst there are individual success stories, in general results at the school are very poor when compared with similar schools with similar intakes, Ofsted inspections for over a decade have seen the school move in and out of special measures, and parents are showing a significant lack of confidence by voting with their feet and sending their children to other local schools.
It is absolutely clear that pupils and parents have been let down by an inspection system that makes critical ‘snap shot’ judgements and by leaders at local and national level who have failed to properly support the school to improve. These things combined have led to dwindling number of pupils and ever decreasing funding making it harder and harder for the school to succeed. This cannot be allowed to continue. Successive County Councils should have acted much sooner to prevent this disastrous situation and David Morris MP should have been working alongside the school and County Council three years ago to raise standards – not just stepping up when we have reached crisis point.
Led by parents, the community need a vision for this school and new leadership in place to realise it. One option could see the school converted into a University Technical College or Studio School to extend the range of technical and vocational options on offer across the district. This would give the area and the school a unique offer that speaks to many of the aspirations of local people. This is just one idea and over the coming weeks I’ll be speaking to local people about all of the viable options for the future so that we can create a credible plan that ensures no child’s educational success is limited simply by the school they attend.
Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for Morecambe and Lunesdale