Merger came at breakneck speed

KEQMS, Lytham St Annes
KEQMS, Lytham St Annes
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PARENTS who claim the merger of their children’s private schools happened “too quickly” now face an anxious wait to hear if it will be halted.

Lytham’s King Edward and Queen Mary School (KEQMS) and Arnold School, in Blackpool, announced last year they would merge in September – sparking the No To The Takeover (NTTT) group of parents to launch a desperate bid to keep KEQMS independent.

They are now appealing the Charity Commission’s decision to sanction the merger, and told a first-tier tribunal it was allowed to happen at “breakneck speed” and the complexities of merging the local Lytham School Trust charity with national charity the United Church Schools Trust, which runs Arnold, were not properly considered.

The new Arnold KEQMS (AKS) is due to open in September, but Ray Aliss from NTTT has said the group is “optimistic” its battle for independence will go to a final tribunal hearing – raising the possibility the merger will be blocked.

In a statement Mr Aliss said: “I am optimistic the evidence we presented gives us the best possible chance of achieving the outcome we all want.”

The commission’s skeleton argument highlighted it had been satisfied resources could be used more effectively by the two charities together and that the merger made sense in the “prevailing social and economic circumstances.”

A spokesman for UCST added: “The preliminary hearing was held over two days in London during the Easter holidays. The Judge is now deciding on the outcome and whether a final hearing also needs to take place. “Although it might take a while for the Judge to hand down his decision, we have told parents and staff that we will let them know as soon as we hear.”