War chest to fight school merger plans

Protesting parents at KEQMS (from left) Ray Aliss, Steve Sharples, Andrea Sharples.
Protesting parents at KEQMS (from left) Ray Aliss, Steve Sharples, Andrea Sharples.
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AN official appeal has been launched against the merger of two top Fylde schools – and those leading the fight today called on parents to raise a £25,000 war chest.

Some parents are furious after the Charity Commission rubber-stamped permission for King Edward VII Queen Mary School to controversially merge with Arnold School.

And they are so desperate they have now called on parents to donate between £50 and £500 each towards the fight.

Ray Aliss, who leads the group No To The Takeover, said: “There has been a tremendous amount of work going on in the background.

“We have been working with our solicitor and barrister to gather information required for the basis of our appeal. This has been a fairly time consuming exercise as we have had to wait for papers from the Charity Commission and ensure that our appeal is robust and has a good chance of success.

“We have now completed all the work required and have submitted our appeal to HM Courts and Tribunal Service – First Tier Tribunal.

“Our legal team are optimistic that we can achieve the outcome we want – an independent KEQMS.”

The merger would come under the United Church Schools Trust, an organisation that looks after educational establishments across the country.

Around 200 objections were sent to the Charity Commission when it looked into the proposed merger between the Lytham Schools and the UCST.

The group had raised £10,895 in funding for its fight, but has spent £6,840.

In a direct appeal to parents, Mr Aliss added: “In order to reach our target of £25,000 we need to raise a further £21,000. I appreciate that this is a really big ask when you have the inevitable financial pressures of Christmas.

“I’m back with my begging bowl. I’m appealing to all families who are in favour of the save KEQMS group to donate between £50 and £500. ”

Nigel Barber of the UCST said: “UCST will prepare a responsible and professional response to the appeal by two parents against the Charity Commission.

“We will not, however, allow this process to distract staff, pupils and parents. Both school communities are fully engaged in teaching, learning and in celebrating end of term activities as well as looking forward to AKS opening in September.

“Over the past four weeks, there has been a step change in opinion as the concrete plans for AKS have begun to take shape.

“We will be announcing our plans for investment on the AKS site before Christmas to give everyone involved with the new school an indication of the improvements they can expect.”

Mr Aliss said the decision to appeal had not been taken lightly.

He said: “All the data demonstrates that we have a solid case that has a good chance of success. We are still as passionate as ever to save our school and see it returned to its rightful position – independent and a part of our strong and caring community.”