No coeducation at MTS without proper consultation and restored confidence in the Board

No coeducation at MTS without proper consultation and restored confidence in the Board

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Parents & Guardians MTS started this petition to Merchant Taylors' School Crosby

We, the parents and guardians of the students of Merchant Taylors’ School, Crosby, hereby petition to:

  1. immediately suspend all activity in relation to the decision to move to primary co-education pending the implementation of a properly defined and agreed consultation process that is open to all parents, guardians and teachers,
  2. accept a vote of no confidence in the current Board of Governors as a result of the way in which the Board of Governors has handled this particular process to date, and
  3. appoint a new Chair of the Board of Governors with an appropriate professional background in education and relevant experience to move forward with this process, and with the School as a whole, in an open and transparent manner.

Context

Merchant Taylors’ Schools, Crosby consist of:

  • Stanfield: educates boys and girls from Reception to Year 2 (Infant phase) as co-educational provision and girls from Year 3 to Year 6 as single sex education (Junior phase);
  • Junior Boys’ School: educates boys in Years 3-6 under a single-sex education model;
  • Senior Girls’ School: educates girls in Years 7-11 (secondary phase) and Sixth Form as single-sex education model;
  • Senior Boys’ School: educates boys in Years 7-11 (secondary phase) and Sixth Form as single-sex education model.

On 18 November 2019, the Board of Governors of Merchant Taylors’ School, Crosby announced a decision to change the single-sex provision at the Junior phase to a co-educational model for all children of Primary School age (Reception to Year 6).

The provision would be located at Stanfield. This change would be effective from September 2020.

The announcement has raised significant concerns from the families, students and staff across the four schools.

Families communicated their concerns during the meeting organised by the Board, through direct communication with the Board and the School’s Executive Management Team, and within the private parental body communication channels.

The concerns

Whatever the individual views on the principles of co-education, major concerns have been raised in relation to the lack of consultation prior to the announcement, misleading statements as to the justification for making the decision, failure to provide information on the immediate impact of the transition arrangements on the current students of all four schools and the significant limitations of the facilities at Stanfield to support the increase of junior school classrooms from 8 single sex classrooms to 16 co-education classrooms.

Additionally, parents and guardians have found the style of communication inadequate and, at times, dismissive of enquiries.

Formal complaints and requests for information have been met with a formulaic template response with none of the questions answered.

Concerns regarding the integrity, trustworthiness and child-centeredness of the Board’s decision making are also widely shared, as is the dismay from parents and guardians at the way in which the staff affected appear to have been treated, leading to the questioning of the ethicalness of the leadership of the Board.

This falls significantly short of the expectations that we, the parents and guardians have of those who lead the school our children attend.

The strength of feeling

A survey of parents of the School that took place since the announcement revealed that of the approximately 280 respondents, over 90% are against or strongly against the Board’s proposals.

In addition, a significant number of individual letters of concern have been submitted to the Board with inadequate response from the Board to date (as of 5 December 2019).

To date, the Board has failed to respond to any of those concerns and has cancelled the remaining two of three scheduled group sessions with parents.  The only way parents are now able to obtain further information from the Board is by arranging individual meetings directly with the Board and the Executive.

Questionable unethical professional conduct

There have to-date been two specific instances of where all girls in Year 5 and Year 6 have been directly engaged on this matter during what is supposed to be a consultation process, causing much confusion and concern amongst those girls.

This demonstrates that the Board is not conducting a meaningful consultation, and instead is:

  • actively directing the staff to promote the model of co-educational teaching with the children, and
  • permitting the staff to undertake such activities promoting the co-educational change.

This re-affirms the parental view that the Board has no intention of conducting any meaningful consultation with parents of the school on the proposed changes.  The Board has already started the process and is showing a clear intention to push through their plans, despite almost universal parental disagreement. 

This, in turn, makes the Board’s assurance of listening, taking on board and considering the parental representations, untrue.

This, in turn, makes the Board’s integrity questionable.

These immediate concerns may appear, at first sight, not to affect children across all year groups, particularly those in the senior school.  However, this is the latest of a number of actions taken by the Board over the last two years that has introduced significant changes to the school that affect wider year groups, changes that have a major impact on our children, without involving the parents of the school, or the teaching staff of the school, in that process. 

This raises significant wider concerns around:

  • the Board prioritising financial decisions over the educational needs of the children of the school,
  • the move to co-education within the junior school acting as a precursor to extending co-education across the whole school in the future, 
  • the principle of co-education leading to increasing class sizes,
  • the legitimacy of the Board's conduct in relation to this and previous actions from a legal, regulatory and moral perspective, and
  • an overall lack of trust and confidence in the governance of the school, and specifically in the chair of the Board of Governors, whose conduct during the meeting at Stanfield on 20 November 2019 was found to offensive by many of the parents.

Petition

There are, therefore, a number of difficult decisions that have to be made to address the latest concerns, restore the trust and help take the School forward, and we strongly feel that this matter now needs to be escalated.

As such, we, the parents and guardians of the students of Merchant Taylors’ School, Crosby, hereby petition to:

  1. immediately suspend all activity in relation to the decision to move to primary co-education pending the implementation of a properly defined and agreed consultation process that is open to all parents, guardians and teachers,
  2. accept a vote of no confidence in the current Board of Governors as a result of the way in which the Board of Governors has handled this particular process to date, and
  3. appoint a new Chair of the Board of Governors with an appropriate professional background in education and relevant experience to move forward with this process, and with the School as a whole, in an open and transparent manner.
0 have signed. Let’s get to 500!
At 500 signatures, this petition is more likely to be featured in recommendations!