Miles to divide merger schools

Arnold School on Lytham Road, South Shore
Arnold School on Lytham Road, South Shore
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PUPILS at a brand new school face being taught miles apart after it was revealed they may not fit on the same site from September.

It has emerged the United School’s Church Trust (UCST) are looking into the possibility of keeping both Arnold School’s Blackpool site and the King Edward and Queen Mary School buildings, in St Annes, open when the two schools merge.

Until now, it had been expected all the pupils at the new Arnold KEQMS School (AKS) would be taught in St Annes – but UCST’s new chief executive has revealed to parents that’s unlikely to be possible.

Jon Coles said: “Later this week we will publish a series of options for parents and staff to consider on how we house AKS for its first year whilst construction work is underway to build the new Junior School.

“Whenever there is significant new building at a school, it is important to make adjustments to the operation of the school so that children’s learning is not harmed.

“In this case, there are a number of options, some of which would include operating on both current school sites for a further year. My own view is that one of these split site options would be best, but we are consulting parents, and if there is a clear preference among parents as to the best option, then that is what we will do.”

The options include all pupils remaining on their existing sites for a further year, the junior school being housed at Arnold School and all the senior school pupils moving to St Annes – or vice-versa – or all pupils moving to one of the two sites.

Plans for the new buildings, on the KEQMS site, are currently being finalised and are expected to be revealed to parents shortly. They will be subject to planning permission before they can go ahead.

Mr Coles has already visited both schools to talk over issues surrounding the merger with staff, parents and pupils.

He added: “I was fortunate to have been able to visit both schools last week, a week after taking up this job, and to have met staff, pupils and parents and look forward to returning very soon.

“I was impressed by what I saw at both schools and I am confident that the merged school can bring together the strengths and traditions of both schools to provide an outstanding education to children and young people now and into the future.”

In a letter to parents, he noted reaction to the merger was more favourable at Arnold. Following the announcement last September, some parents at KEQMS formed a “No To The Takeover” (NTTT) group and launched a failed Charity Commission probe into the merger in an attempt to halt it.

KEQMS headmaster Robert Karling stepped down at the end of last term, and Arnold headteacher Jim Keefe is due to take charge of the new school from September.