Tyne & Wear

The King's School to merge with state-funded primary

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Media captionThe private school that wants to be free

A private school in North Tyneside has announced it is to merge with a state-funded primary school after a fall in pupil numbers.

The independent King's School in Tynemouth wants to become an academy in September 2013, along with neighbouring Priory Primary School.

Some parents at the £9,000 a year school say the 150-year-old tradition being "blown out the water".

But Priory's head teacher said the standard of education should rise.

Parents from schools were at a meeting on Monday night to discuss the plans.

Gilly McLalen, whose daughter attends King's, said: "This is the future. Tynemouth has always been an aspirational place to live, but this will make it even more desirable and for me, that can only be positive."

This merger is thought to be the first in the country.

'Freedom of choice'

Priory head teacher Sue Melbourne said: "I think it will always be a concern, but I think increasingly schools are coming into competition with each other and that can only be a positive thing in driving up standards in giving parents more freedom of choice."

The move, which parents at King's said came as a "surprise", would mean from September next year the private school would be funded centrally by the government.

Head teacher Edward Wesson said: "Ever since I've been here it's been difficult for a lot parents to meet the fees.

"In a way, I suppose one has an ideal of education that you can do what we do now and not have people pay for it and I think this is an opportunity to step in that direction."

The Department of Education says seven independent fee-paying schools have chosen to become free schools and seven others have become or are in the process of becoming academies.

Another two are considering it.

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