Harrogate school to meet parents over sixth form merger plans as Rossett aims to 'thrive again'
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Existing Rossett sixth form students will be unaffected but September will see 65 students join the larger 650-strong sixth form at Harrogate Grammar School.
The move is the first signs of the close relationship between the two schools as Rossett School prepares to join the Red Kite Learning Trust, which already includes the Harrogate Grammar School.
Addressing the fact the news had surprised many parents, Richard Sheriff, chief executive of the Red Kite Learning Trust and former headteacher of Harrogate Grammar School, said the sixth form merger was so crucial to starting the process of turning the school's fortunes round public consultation had not been an option.
"Our main thought throughout has been what will work best for pupils at Rossett and how to minimise disruption for them.
"It's not a new concept to have a joint sixth form in Harrogate, as St Aidan's and St John Fisher show.
"Rossett is already part of the family with Harrogate Grammar School and we have a close relationship.
"But what would we have done do with the outcome of the consultation if parents said ‘we’d like to keep things as they are’?
“If we did that Rossett School would be bankrupt next year.
"Delaying the changes would have caused more disruption and hindered plans to improve Rossett."
Despite its strong reputation in Harrogate and the wider area for many years, Rossett currently faces two key challenges:
1. Ofsted - A critical report from Ofsted in January labelled the school as 'requiring improvement' fuelled by concerns over high staff turnover, disruptive pupils and extremely high absence rates.
2. Costs - A fall in student numbers in recent years from from 1,500 to 1,000 after dents to its reputation and a third fewer students coming from North Leeds because of higher bus fares and improved schools in the city meant Rossett's income was now significantly lower and would continue to decline unless action was swift was taken.
Rossett's prospective new headteacher Tim Milburn, who was formerly deputy headteacher at Harrogate Grammar School, says the forthcoming sixth form merger is full of positives and essential to making the school thrive again.
"I understand parents’ concerns and questions and we are keen to invite parents to the school to discuss it.
"Students themselves have been very positive about the move.
"We have thought long and hard about how we can make the best provision for children.
"We want Rossett to be a thriving, growing school again.”
Red Kite’s Richard Sheriff pointed to a range of benefits the plans will bring to Rossett:
1 A boost in teachers will be provided by utilising Rossett’s former sixth form buildings as a teacher training centre by the Red Kite Learning Trust.
2 Rossett sixth formers will have access to Harrogate Grammar School’s wider curriculum, including additional subjects such as medical science.
3 The sixth form merger will demonstrate Rossett School’s commitment to making improvements to Ofsted inspectors.
It is expected that September will see Rossett becoming the 14th school to join the Red Kite Learning Trust, a multi-academy trust in North and West Yorkshire.