Shock as Blackpool schools set to merge

Collegiate high School (left) which will be knocked down and (right) Bispham high.
Collegiate high School (left) which will be knocked down and (right) Bispham high.
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TWO Blackpool high schools are set to merge and become an academy in a new multi-million pound school, The Gazette can reveal today.

Collegiate High School will be knocked down and rebuilt and merged with Bispham High School.

The merger, if approved, is likely to happen in January 2014 with the new 900-place school scheduled to open on Collegiate’s Blackpool Old Road site in September 2015.

Governors and senior teachers at both schools were told of the plans late yesterday by education leaders after the funding for the shock plans was agreed by Government.

One union leader today described the move as “appalling” and said teaching jobs will be at risk while fears have been raised over the idea of a private company effectively taking over the school.

Both schools have seen their pupil numbers slump in recent years due to falling birth rates.

They were also among a host of Blackpool schools to miss out on millions of pounds of cash for rebuilding when the Conservatives scrapped the huge Building Schools for the Future (BSFF) programme.

Sue Harrison, Blackpool’s director of children’s services, today said the plans would be put out to public consultation and said she was speaking with governors.

But The Gazette understands the funding is dependent on the schools merging, with Education Secretary Michael Gove insisting any new school must be an academy.

Collegiate, which last year enjoyed its best ever GCSE results, has seen its pupil numbers fall to below 500 - it was more than a thousand less than a decade ago - while Bispham has around 870 pupils.

School pupil numbers have hit record lows but are set to rise again around 2016.

If the scheme is agreed, all new Year 7 pupils will start at the Bispham site in January 2014 with a gradual progression of all other pupils to Bispham while the demolition and rebuild takes place at Collegiate.

Efforts will be made to prevent disruption to Year 10 and Year 11 pupils, who will be in the midst of busy GCSE exams, throughout the move, education bosses have vowed.

A name for the new school will be discussed as part of the consultation.

FULL STORY AND REACTION IN TODAY’S GAZETTE.

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