School merger reality revealed

Parents of youngsters starting at Bispham and Collegiate high schools in September met at Bispham High School to learn about the future of the schools - a slide at the meeting reads 'joining together to create a new high school in North Blackpool'
Parents of youngsters starting at Bispham and Collegiate high schools in September met at Bispham High School to learn about the future of the schools - a slide at the meeting reads 'joining together to create a new high school in North Blackpool'
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Parents and pupils with places at Bispham and Collegiate high schools were brought together for the first time formally this week, as the schools prepare to be merged.

At a welcome evening for youngsters starting at the two schools in September John Topping, formerly acting headteacher at Bispham and now acting headteacher at Collegiate, explained to families how the schools will be joining together in coming months.

The 10-and 11-year-olds who applied to either Bispham or Collegiate will be starting their secondary school life at the Bispham Road premises, to minimise disruption to pupils when work begins on a multi-million pound redevelopment of Collegiate’s Blackpool Old Road site.

Information given to parents was the first formal announcement the schools will merge with governors from both sites saying they would be working together.

Mr Topping told parents: “We’re trying to move these children together with a common identity, getting them to work together.”

From September children in Years Eight to 11 will remain in their current schools while Year Sevens start in Bispham.

From January 2014 staff from both schools will be coming together as one joint team.

Building work is expected to begin on the Collegiate site by the end of 2013 – to be completed by 2015.

Management from the schools yesterday met with designers of the new buildings to decide on where the 330 Collegiate students, in years eight to 11, can be placed in temporary accommodation during the building work which Mr Topping said is “major”.

He said: “There’s going to be a lot of diggers, a lot of noise, a lot of disturbance, but the outcome will be a beautiful new school.”

The Department for Education has said the school will be granted around £10m for new facilities on the Blackpool Old Road site, set to be opened in 2015.

Coun Sarah Riding, cabinet for education, said: “At this stage the governing body at Collegiate school and the interim executive board at Bispham have agreed to work 
together towards one school on the Collegiate site.

“It has been decided that pupils who were due to start at Collegiate in September should start as Bispham to ensure their learning isn’t 
disrupted while the new school is built on the Collegiate site.

“During any period of change it can be a worrying time, we are more than happy to speak to parents about their concerns.

“Unfortunately the process of joining two schools is not an easy one and it will take some time.

“In addition to the consultation events that took place about the merger there have been a number of updates sent to parents with the latest information.”

Call out for information

Parents at the meeting at the Bispham Road school said they felt more information could have been shared since the merger proposal was first announced.

Lyn Porter said she is pleased her daughter Charlotte, starting as a Bispham intake in September, will get the benefit of the multi-million pound facilities to be built on the Collegiate site.

She said: “The new build looks amazing. I just hope it stays as good a school as Bispham has been for my son.”

Peter Cummins, whose son Lewis applied to Collegiate but will start at the Bispham site in September, said: “When we were applied and did admissions we should have been told then they might be 
merging. I disagree with it but there’s no option.”

And Janet Monkman, whose twins Connor and Chloe will join their older brother Aaron at Bispham in September, said: “I’m not happy about it but I couldn’t send them to a different school to my eldest.”

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