All 5 County Councillors representing Spennymoor/Middlestone and Tudhoe Divisions had a two hour meeting today with the acting Director of Education for Durham County Council.
This was a very constructive and informative meeting with points made on both sides on how we could move forward following the announcement from Whitworth Park School on Friday, 1st September, 2017 to suspend Year 12, 6th Form courses with their offer of alternative facilities for Year 12 students at a number of other locations.
It was recognised that there had been poor communication in how this message had been presented with the immediate announcement not being communicated to any of the 5 County Councillors or to responsible officers at Durham County Council until Friday when they regrettably appeared as postings on Facebook from distressed parents and concerned residents seeking explanations and assurances.
All County Councillor concerns registered today will be documented and responded to and an Options Report considering measures that can be taken to help affected students and parents will be available within two weeks and presented to the Portfolio Holder for Children & Young Peoples Services for approval, followed by a further meeting to be arranged with County Council officers and your 5 County Councillors.
The County Council are working with the Regional Schools Commissioner on a way forward for Whitworth Park School following the school’s poor Ofsted Report released in March 2017 and for some time now have had their own officers working with Governors and Staff to improve pupil outcomes. This intensive support has shown a positive result in this year’s examinations, but we now believe that Whitworth Park’s urgent and previously unannounced decision was based on lack of numbers of students to make this year’s Year 12 financially viable to run courses that may have meant operating almost on a 1:1 basis, pupil/staff ratio for this year group.
Continuation of sixth form education at Whitworth Park School has not been ruled out for the future and the County Council will work with all agencies to ensure that the school grows from strength to strength in the future to meet the expectations of all students. For those students that have been so badly affected, your County Councillors will strive to ensure that the promised Options Paper gives assurances to parents and students that their concerns have been listened to and appropriately addressed.
We will work with the School and County Council officers to ensure that parents have as much information as possible to help them make the right decisions for their children. We believe that education is important and we want to ensure there is successful and sustainable Primary and Secondary education in Spennymoor and surrounding Parishes. This is what the community wants and what we all deserve.
County Councillors Liz Maddison, Kevin Thompson, Geoff Darkes, Alan Gardner, Neil Grayson