Rethink in Grimsby Willows schools merger

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Image caption,
Whitgift school pupils attended the meeting to protest against its possible closure

Plans to reorganise schools on a Grimsby estate have been sent "back to the drawing board" by North East Lincolnshire Council.

The council had proposed closing four schools on the Willows Estate and replacing them with one "through-school" for pupils aged three to 16.

Hundreds of parents protested against the plans and now the council has ordered a new set of proposals.

A report due to go to the council next month has been delayed until January.

Of the options being considered by the council, one was to close Willows primary school, Great Coates primary and Littlecoates primary and then to expand Whitgift secondary to an "all-through school" for pupils aged three to 16.

The second option was to close Whitgift school, Great Coates, Willows primary and Littlecoates and open an amalgamated primary school for children aged four to 11.

Last month nearly 700 people attended a meeting in the town to voice their concerns over the plans.

On Friday, the council said in a statement: "Now that the informal consultation process has finished North East Lincolnshire Council is going back to the drawing board and reconsidering all options in light of the feedback that has been received."

Councillor Tony McCabe, portfolio holder children and family services, said: "I accept that there is considerable opposition to these proposals.

"Despite evidence of the merits of all-through schools I also accept that we have not convinced parents of their value as a solution to the issues of education in the Willows area."

He said the report to cabinet would be delayed to allow further talks with affected schools.

"I know that parents of children attending these schools will be disappointed at the delay in the process but I am sure they will agree with us that this process needs to be done properly and with due deliberation."

Barbara Hughes, executive director children and family services said: "The challenges facing the schools in the area remain."

'Powers to intervene'

These were the long-term viability and sustainability of Littlecoates school in terms of its numbers, the longer-term viability and sustainability of Whitgift school in terms of its numbers and its performance and concerns about performance and standards at Great Coates school.

"Doing nothing is not an option for us," she said.

"The Secretary of State, Michael Gove, has stated clearly that if local authorities do not address these issues in their schools then he has powers to intervene and he will not hesitate to use them.

"I would much rather keep things local, where the community has the opportunity to shape a suitable solution."

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