'A Note from the Rescue Team Requesting your Support'

(April 9, 2015)

The last three weeks have been a tumultuous whirlwind for everyone associated with the St. Bees Community. Parents were forced to start the difficult and unwanted search for alternative schools, students began to come to grips with the fact that they were not likely to complete school with their close friends, and worst of all, the teachers and staff were handed their notices for termination of employment. 

Buoyed by overwhelming support from the St Bees community, we have sought a way through this awful situation. Our modus operandi  has been simple: open and honest communications, no false hope, focus on the future and not the past, and no conspiracy theories. We have deliberately sought to work in cooperation with and in accordance to the Governor’s desires, which, has proven very difficult. 

We know that there are many who do not wish to see the school limp on a year at a time and so believe that any decision to keep the school open must be made on the back of an underpinned 5 year sustainable business plan. We appreciate the sentiments that lead to such a position. We too wish it were possible to have in place a 5 year business plan before the closure notice could be rescinded. The simple fact is that the timing and manner of the Governors’ closure announcement makes this impossible. A position that requires an underpinned 5 year plan is a position that has the school closing at the end of the summer term. 

We are also all very aware that time is precious. We don’t have six months to develop this business case because parents and teachers are rightly looking for alternatives. Like many of you, we are disappointed that the EGM will not be held until 16 April, as the delay eats into the valuable time available to us to implement a rescue plan.  Our proposal is to extend the school by an additional year in order to buy enough time to develop a solid solution that capitalises on the paradigm shift represented by the huge level of good will and financial support that has become available. Whilst this is not a 5 year business plan, the approach makes perfect sense under the prevailing circumstances and gives the school a chance to continue. Our concern is that while formal deliberations are being made to make an informed decision, parents and teachers are naturally seeking alternative schools for the Christmas term and soon we will not have a school to save – time really is of the essence. 

In just a single week, we have managed to raise nearly £2 million and developed a strong proposal which was presented in a public forum on 23 March, just 10 days after the closure announcement. Unfortunately, it will not be until Thursday next week when our proposal will be formally considered. 

That EGM is of critical importance. Because of the fact that students and teachers are leaving, we need a decision to rescind the closure notice and move forward with our proposal; not a decision to study the problem further or a motion to bring in yet another consultant. 

We have been overwhelmed at the amount of support from around the world; we have compiled a database with literally hundreds of names complete with specific areas of expertise. We would like everyone to begin the process of communicating your views, hopes and concerns for the school and the community to those who can change the current direction of travel. If you are able to bring any influence to bear with the governing body, then let them know your views. Ask them to give the school a chance.

 If you don’t know any of the governors, then write a letter to the chairman and again, request that he give the school a chance.  The rescue team will continue our efforts but now is the time for action from you, the parents, the staff and the community to share your views with those that will debate this point on the 16th. We need clarity to save the school, not further delay – that will deliver a faitaccompli. 

Sincere and heartfelt thanks for your support – lets make sure that this institution that has been an integral part of our community for over 430 years is given a chance. 

The Rescue Team