School verdict D-day looms

Parents and pupils gathered outside King Edward and Queen Mary School in Lytham to protest against plans to merge the school with Arnold.
Parents and pupils gathered outside King Edward and Queen Mary School in Lytham to protest against plans to merge the school with Arnold.

THE future direction of King Edward and Queen Mary School should be known within two weeks.

The Charity Commission’s key probe into the merger of the Lytham school with Arnold School, Blackpool under the United Church Schools Trust takes a key step forward tomorrow when objectors to the plan have the chance to put their case.

And the Commission say that they aim to complete the review and issue their final decision during the week beginning November 14.

The Commission announced that it was to refer the merger to its Final Decision and Tribunal Team after hundreds of objectors made representations over the highly-controversial move.

It is involved because KEQMS has its roots in the Lytham Schools Foundation Charity and the plan for a future under the UCST would constitute a merger with another charity.

The reviewer looking into the matter is Harry Iles, head of the Commission’s Wales office. He was nominated to conduct the decision review on the basis of his seniority in the Commission and the fact that he has had no previous involvement in the case.

A spokesman for the Charity Commission said: “It is a standard feature of our decision review process to allow people who have made representations the opportunity to speak directly to the reviewer should they wish to.

“We have therefore given people who have sent written representations the opportunity to speak to Harry Iles this Friday between 10am and 4.30pm.

“We needed to hear from them by Wednesday if they wished to take up the opportunity and have explained that all the information they have already provided in their representations will be carefully considered.”

The No To The Takeover group of parents, who have been campaigning to maintain the independence of KEQMS since the merger plan was first announced in September, have formulated a detailed business plan for the school’s future and have collected a ‘fighting fund’ of more than £8,500.

A spokesman for the Group said: “The point is that we simply don’t think a change is required for the charity to go from strength to strength.”

The school’s governors have said it is quite normal for such a scheme to be referred to the Commission’s Final Decision team.

n Letters special – Page 8.