Inspiration Trust proposes merging Great Yarmouth Charter Academy and Trafalgar College

The opening day for Trafalgar College.
Picture: James Bass

The opening day for Trafalgar College. Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press � 2016

A trust which runs two high schools in Great Yarmouth has launched a public consultation on a merger.

Under the Inspiration Trust proposals, Trafalgar College, in Thamesfield Way, and Great Yarmouth Charter Academy, in Salisbury Road, would merge.

The change would see Trafalgar College - a free school which opened last September - move to the Salisbury Road site.

The trust said there would be a 'substantial investment' in new buildings, with new classrooms and facilities added to accommodate 1,500 pupils.

The schools would operate separately for the rest of the academic year and the merger would be phased, with all pupils on the Salisbury Road site by September 2019.

Great Yarmouth Charter Academy.
Picture: David Hannant

Great Yarmouth Charter Academy. Picture: David Hannant - Credit: Archant

When Trafalgar College opened, it became the first new high school in Great Yarmouth in 50 years.

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It is currently based in a converted office building, which was formerly home to oil and gas firm Perenco.

In December, the trust released artist impressions of a £20m school building and sports hall which would be built nearby. At the time, they said they hoped to apply for planning permission in spring 2017, but a bid was never lodged.

The Thamesfield Way site is owned by the Department for Education, who will consult with Great Yarmouth Borough Council over its future.

The announcement comes after Charter Academy hit the headlines for its strict new rules, which left parents divided and saw a meeting at the school become heated. A Facebook group for parents against the merger has already been set up.

Though the trust has not confirmed whether jobs would be lost, it says on its website it anticipates the 'majority' of staff would transfer to the merged school, with 'similar staffing' levels expected.

Chief executive Dame Rachel de Souza said: 'Many things have changed in Great Yarmouth over recent years.

'We have successfully opened Trafalgar College, proving popular with students and parents and setting the highest academic standards and Great Yarmouth Charter Academy - the old high school - has recently joined the us under a transformative new headmaster.

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'Elsewhere in education, Great Yarmouth College and Lowestoft College have merged and Norfolk County Council is consulting on changes to primary schooling in north Yarmouth. The school-age population has grown much less quickly than forecast by the local authority.

'The time is now right to reassess secondary provision in the town and we think pupils and parents will be best served by a single enlarged high school.'

The trust currently has approval to include a sixth form at Trafalgar from 2021 - but, as the merged schools would have year 11 students after it opened, it is consulting on whether to apply to bring forward the sixth form start date to 2019.

According to a Norfolk County Council website, Trafalgar College had a planned admission number of 120 pupils for 2018/19. As of May this year, there were 87 pupils on roll.

• Meetings to discuss the changes will take place at Trafalgar College on September 28 and Great Yarmouth Charter Academy on October 12.

• The consultation will run until October 15.

• Do you think the schools should merge? Leave your comments below.

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