Merger battle far from over

Jon Coles, Chief Executive of UCST

Jon Coles, Chief Executive of UCST

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“IT’S not over yet!”

That’s the message from battling parents who have failed to convince a tribunal that Lytham’s Kind Edward and Queen Mary School (KEQMS) and Arnold School, in South Shore, should not be allowed to merge from September.

The No To The Takeover (NTTT) group explained: “The tribunal concluded a new scheme for Lytham Schools Foundation is justified but the actual scheme approved by the Charity Commission is unacceptable.”

They now plan to consult over the next week and decide what their next step will be.

But the United Schools Church Trust (UCST) – who will run the new Arnold KEQMS School (AKS) – said the tribunal’s decision brings to an end the “uncertainty” which has surrounded the new school since the merger plans were revealed last year.

They say “the merger which was enabled by the revised scheme was valid and remains so” but the tribunal judge has stated the scheme requires “some clarification in its wording”.

Jon Coles, CEO of UCST, said: “Despite the ongoing appeal we have continued with preparations for September and we look forward with confidence to AKS opening.

“This brings to an end a period of uncertainty which has caused concern and instability across both schools. I know the past nine months have been difficult for many people but, more than anything else, what parents, staff and pupils at both schools want is certainty about the future.

“We now have this.”

The tribunal heard the parents claim The Charity Commission should not have sanctioned the merger of UCST-run Arnold and Lytham Schools Trust run KEQMS.

A spokesman from NTTT said: “To be clear - our appeal has not been turned down, as Mr Coles would have you believe. It is not even at an end. The preliminary issue addressed the question as to whether the merger of Arnold School with KEQMS would be a more effective use of the KEQMS assets in the ownership of UCST than KEQMS continuing its more than 100 year old role as an independent school in the ownership and operational control of the Lytham Schools Foundation

“We have been advised there are good grounds on which to appeal the decision to the Upper Tribunal and we are allowed 28 days in which to consider lodging such an appeal.

“We will consult more thoroughly over the next week and then decide our next steps in this regard, being mindful this is an important issue for teachers, parents and pupils and that the period of uncertainty would continue.”