All Around Tarvin
By Editor Tarvin webteam - 28th April 2014 6:00am
A big concern and driver for the school transport changes has been CWac's fear that since they no longer control the catchment areas of many schools in their area then they could be picking up a costlier transport bill in the future over which have no veto if schools enlarge their catchment areas.
In the recent Rural Community webcast ( see our article) and the webcast starting at time 00:33:03 Councillor Mike Jones raises this very question.
After stating that some schools are actively seeking to expand catchment areas he goes on to say he can see a problem due to children from Winsford going to Tarporley School.
This point was raised with us by a Tarvin resident who had listened to the webcast and not surprisingly then asked whether Tarvin children were being disadvantaged due to the actions of Tarporley school!
Since this is an issue at the very heart of the stance CWaC are taking we have asked Sarah Lee Tarporley Head Teacher for the true position. We have received from her the following very full and detailed reply setting out the position of Tarporley school. We have published this letter in full below.
"The position is that the Tarporley HS catchment zone has not changed in the 12 years that I have been headteacher, and to my direct knowledge has not changed in over 20 years. In all this time there have not been, and are not now any plans to change the catchment zone in the future. We have made this point during the consultation. Catchment zones in CWAC as a whole have seen little or no change. Councillors have been informed that academy schools in other parts of the country have changed their catchment zones. I understand the South East is a case in point, where there is a history of schools competing very actively with each other. There is no history of this at Tarporley, or I believe in CWAC, and I believe the conditions in the areas where academies may have aggressively expanded their catchment zones are very different from those in our relatively stable rural area.
Tarporley is a school in the heart of its rural community that aspires to be the first choice for all parents and children in our 40 square mile catchment zone. We do also have sufficient places to welcome children from beyond our catchment zone, if families are able to make transport arrangements. A number of children who live in the Winsford area attend Primary and High Schools outside the Winsford area, for example Weaverham, Hartford, Leftwich, Middlewich and Tarporley High Schools. This has been the case for over 20 years and is a matter of parental preference. In all this time it has not prompted a change to our catchment zone or any other, as far as I am aware.
I am sorry to say that I think Councillors have been made to feel fearful that our school might suddenly expand its catchment and cause spiralling costs, in order to encourage their support for these unreasonable and unjustified changes to school transport in Tarvin. I do greatly fear that there is a move to push parents into paying for school transport, which would of course save money.
I recognise that the council, like all of us in the public sector, has to make cuts, but we know that there are no savings to be made from the Tarvin changes, except by potentially pressuring parents into paying for school transport. Moreover, in the medium term, secondary school transport from Tarvin will cost more than it does at present.
I was just as shocked as everyone else when these unexpected and unwanted proposals came to light. I can assure you that Tarporley High School has done nothing to cause them, and we are absolutely devastated for the Tarvin community and our very longstanding stable partnership with Tarvin Primary School. I confess that it makes me very angry to hear that an attempt has been made to justify this situation by implying something that is simply untrue about our catchment. I am also sorry to hear that there has been some misinformation about academy schools used to support the school transport changes.
Our school is a state-funded school that serves local communities of Tarporley, Tarvin, Duddon, Kelsall, Delamere, Utkinton, Eaton, Bunbury, Calveley and surrounding areas. Our funding comes directly to us rather than through the local authority, with which we still work in close partnership. I have heard it said that academy schools are somehow not connected to their local communities but this is simply not true. We are accountable to the local families that we serve and we depend on their daily support to help us continue be the outstanding school we are today"
(Ed. The italics are mine. This sets the record straight and should be referenced in any future communications with Councillors and others involved in trying to sort out this mess)