Head explains why Hastings secondary schools need to merge

The executive principal of two secondary schools has given her reasons on why she believes both schools should merge.

Monday, 24th September 2018, 2:52 pm
Updated Monday, 24th September 2018, 3:58 pm
Yvonne Powell SUS-180924-140259001
Yvonne Powell SUS-180924-140259001

Yvonne Powell spoke to the Observer this week, saying it was costing Helenswood and William Parker Academies, which are run by Ark, too much money to keep all three sites running.

Education chiefs at Ark have put forward proposals to make both schools into one co-educational school.

Redundancies have not been ruled out, though, and if the proposals went ahead there would be a consultation with staff early next year.

She said: “The county council wants to make sure that across both schools we have 12 classes of 30 pupils in each year group. We currently have nine.

“We want to revise our curriculum model to make sure we have a very strong academic one and that students have greater opportunities to excel in sports and the arts.

“We recognise the strengths in the Hastings community for sports and the arts.

“Once we have this new model this will determine the number of teachers we need for the number of classes required.

“We have a role in education to make sure students have the best life chances.

“We have to prepare them for the 21st century. They will step out into a world where men and women are working alongside each other.”

The new school would run across two sites, with Years 7 and 8 based at the Helenswood Lower Site, and Years 9 to 11 plus the Sixth Form at the William Parker site. If approved by the Department for Education, these changes would be effective from September 2019.

She added: “We have had really positive responses from the parents of children in Year 6 about our proposals.

“Should the proposals go ahead we will have a detailed transition programme in place. We recognise the anxieties of parents and are doing all we can to address these.

“Helenswood’s Upper School site belongs to the county council.

“At the moment the cost of having three sites means that we cannot maximise funding for the benefit of our students.

“We want to invest in our dance and drama facilities and have already been working very closely with Hastings Athletic Club. We have just invested in relaying a track. Any investment that we can make to these facilities means we can also open them up to the community.”

She said Ark wants to invest £6m across the two sites towards sports and arts facilities, the creation of a dedicated sixth form space, new toilets and changing facilities for boys and girls, as well as significant refurbishment.

The consultation will run until October 30 and further information on how to participate will be available at hastingsconsultation.org.

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