North Tyneside Council to meet on school merger

North Tyneside Council said it was "disappointed" after the Department for Education gave the go-ahead for The King's School in Tynemouth to merge with Priory Primary

The King's School in Tynemouth
The King's School in Tynemouth

A council is to stage a special meeting to discuss the Government’s approval of a controversial academy bid between an independent school and a state-funded primary.

North Tyneside Council said it was "disappointed" after the Department for Education gave the go-ahead for The King's School in Tynemouth to merge with Priory Primary.

The move comes after Education Secretary Michael Gove signed the funding agreement for the Kings Priory Academy, which will be the first of its kind in the country when it opens in September.

The local authority said the meeting will be an opportunity for all 60 councillors to consider the next steps and the future impact for the borough’s 30,000 children.

In a statement, the council said: “It is a disappointing outcome for the majority of children and schools in North Tyneside.

“It is particularly concerning that the decision has been taken without the Department for Education first answering our questions around the impact of this proposal on the wider school network in North Tyneside, and how the repayment of the �5m debt of King’s School will be funded.

“A special council meeting will be convened to ensure all members can consider the consequences of this decision for our children and schools. Following this, the authority will decide on its next steps.”

A date for the meeting is yet to be announced.

The local authority believes the academy will have a major impact on school provision by introducing new places into a system which is already equipped to meet demand.

The council says it will need to review the current system and may make decisions about reducing the number of spare school places that would result.

The new academy will cater for pupils aged from four to 18 and will be sponsored and operated by Woodard Academies Trust.

It will have places for 1,150 pupils, plus 200 sixth form students. All students currently attending King’s School and Priory Primary School will automatically transfer to the new academy.

The school, which has been described by Prime Minister David Cameron as “an exciting, innovative project”, will open under the leadership of principal David Dawes.

A spokeswoman for the Woodard Academies Trust said they did not wish to comment at this stage.

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