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Parents claim plans to merge two schools were a ‘done deal’ before consultation began

There are proposals for a merger of Trafalgar College and Great Yarmouth Charter Academy. Picture: David Hannant/James Bass

There are proposals for a merger of Trafalgar College and Great Yarmouth Charter Academy. Picture: David Hannant/James Bass

Archant

An academy chain has responded to claims by parents that a school merger was a ‘done deal’ before a public consultation began.

Inspiration Trust revealed plans to merge Trafalgar College with Great Yarmouth Charter Academy in September.

But a Freedom of Information request submitted by a parent of a child at Trafalgar revealed email conversations involving the Inspiration Trust, the Department for Education and others.

Parents said the messages confirmed that advanced conversations were being held between government figures and the then Great Yarmouth High School about merging it with Trafalgar College before parents had been informed.

Parent Louise Alderman, who set up the Keep Trafalgar College Separate Facebook group, said: “We feel that none of these bodies should have entered into any agreements without consulting the families of the 150 or so children attending Trafalgar whose education will now be significantly disrupted by this.”

In a statement Inspiration Trust spokesman James Goffin said: “The trust first discussed adopting Great Yarmouth High School in 2014, but those talks fell apart. The most recent discussions started in early 2016, explored many options, and were close to breaking down at several points – as well as being halted by a general election that could have seen wholesale changes in government policy on academies.

“During a consultation meeting in September, parents asked why they had not been told earlier about merger proposals. In answering we explained that no firm proposals could be put together until it was absolutely certain that the high school would join the trust, which wasn’t the case until the summer.

“It was not until then that our trust board could meaningfully discuss the future of the two schools and agree the best approach to take to consultation.

“The hard truth is that much slower than expected growth in pupil numbers means there are now simply not enough pupils in the local area to support a whole new school.

“It would be irresponsible of us to ignore that, and we believe that bringing Great Yarmouth Charter Academy and Trafalgar College together in a single, enlarged school is the best way of securing the broad high quality education that children in Great Yarmouth deserve.”

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