DCSIMG

MIXED VIEWS ON SCHOOL MERGER

THE proposed merger between St Andrews' two independent schools has received a mixed reaction from parents

As revealed in the Citizen last week, St Leonards and New Park will combine as one new school from September, under the name St Leonards-New Park School.

It will be based at Hepburn House, within the St Leonards complex.

The schools regard the merger as a way to make the new institution ''one of Scotland's top junior schools.''

However, one parent who contacted the Citizen claiming to speak for a number of those unhappy with the proposal was not so sure.

"We were shocked to receive a letter last weekend telling us the merger was a 'fait accompli,' with no consultation process taking place with parents before the decision was made,'' she said.

A ''high turnout'' at a meeting at New Park on Friday (another meeting was also held at St Leonards) showed the depth of feeling on both sides, the parent went on.

She claimed many parents had already given notice for their children to leave.

A survey of one class indicated that 70 per cent of pupils would not be going on to the St Leonard's junior school, with a knock-on effect for local primary schools and Dundee High School.

The mother, who asked not to be named, claimed several parents felt they were being ''railroaded'' and were threatening a ''walk out.''

St Leonards declined to comment on the situation, and no-one from New Park was available for comment.

A spokeswoman for Dundee High School said that, while they had received ''lots of inquiries,'' there was ''nothing to suggest an unusual rise from any particular area''.

However, a number of parents have spoken out strongly in support of the move.

One mother said: "Those who are so opposed to the merger — and why, they haven't given it a chance? — should perhaps consider things less from their own point of view and more from that of the children who are, after all, the most important people here.

''My eight-year-old son summed it up perfectly when he told me cheerfully 'Guess what, mummy? We're getting a new school' and that was that, as far as he was concerned.

''Everyone needs to set their personal issues aside and pull together for the good of the children.''

Another parent, Dr Charles Warren, acknowledged that there was ''a sadness'' that New Park would not continue as it had done but he and his wife were extremely positive over the proposal.

He added: "Our feeling is that there is going to be a massive net benefit, to a joint school and all the pupils, in that both schools were marginal. They were really too small to offer what facilities were needed, classes were tiny and one or two years had no classes in them.

"There weren't enough pupils, which is not a good situation, but with the combined assets and facilities of two schools it has got to be a good thing/.

''There isn't space in this catchement area for two independent primary schools - I would much rather that New Park and St Leonard's had been able to go on in strength, but that wasn't an option. Both were struggling.

''There was anger and disappointment that there wasn't consultation but I don't see how there could have been. There's a majority (of parents) who are happy and a vocal minority who don't want it to go ahead.

''I haven't come across a single New Park parent who is going to take children out of the school, and I would be very surprised if more than a small percentage considered doing so.''

Another mother whose children attended New Park and then St Leonards said the merger made excellent sense, adding: ''I can't understand why it didn't happen years ago as it will benefit both schools.

''I understand that it is a dramatic change, but parents are being short-sighted if they don't see this as survival.''

 
 
 

Back to the top of the page

 

X scottish independence image

Keep up-to-date with all the latest Referendum news