National Secular Society states opposition to Great Yarmouth Charter Academy and Trafalgar College merger
PUBLISHED: 11:31 12 October 2017 | UPDATED: 13:08 13 October 2017
The National Secular Society (NSS) has said it is against a merger of two schools in Great Yarmouth.
The society has written to the Inspiration Trust, the academy chain which runs Great Yarmouth Charter Academy and Trafalgar College, to express their opposition.
The Great Yarmouth Grammar School Foundation, which owns the land on the former High School site, is insisting any school on the site must have a formal Christian religious designation.
MORE: Inspiration Trust will take over Great Yarmouth High School when it becomes an academy
The society believes this equates to a non-religious school closing in order to expand a religious school.
Campaigns director at the NSS, Stephen Evans, said he was disappointed with the plans.
He added: “It’s really disappointing that yet again where there are school closures and mergers, religious schools are expanded at the expense of community schools.
“School reorganisations are always a matter on which there are strong opinions by all those involved, who would like the best outcome for pupils.
“The insistence on a religious ethos only makes these situations more difficult and divisive.
“At a time when religious adherence is rapidly diminishing it’s absurd to be expanding faith-based schooling.”
A separate bid by the Diocese of Norwich Education and Academies Trust to run Great Yarmouth Charter Academy was rejected last year.
Inspiration Trust spokesman James Goffin said: “As part of the proposed merger, Charter Academy’s existing Christian religious ethos will continue but we believe it is misleading to refer to it as a faith school.
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“Children are not admitted on religious grounds, staff are not employed on religious grounds, and pupils learn about a range of religious and non-religious belief systems just as they do at schools across the country. Families also retain the right to opt out of religious education if they choose.
“These proposals are about ensuring schools in Great Yarmouth can offer the high quality teaching, sports, and cultural experiences that children deserve. The hard truth is that the pupil population has grown much more slowly than originally predicted and if we didn’t make changes we would be heading for around 1,300 spare secondary school places in the area.”