A GOFUNDME page has been launched to raise £50,000 towards legal action against the controversial proposed merger of Coventry’s two leading independent schools – King Henry VIII and Bablake.
The fundraising effort, which can been viewed here, was started by Action4 Henry’s & Bablake campaigners who include former head teacher of King Henry VIII School George Fisher, parents, staff, alumni and other interested parties.
Mr Fisher, spokesman for the group, said he was, “delighted” with the initial response with £6,000 raised within 48 hours of the launch.
He said: “We already have sufficient funds to instruct a Tier 1 law firm, and to advise us on possible approaches to quash the merger.
“Clearly we don’t yet know the outcome of the Charity Commission’s investigation, but in the event that the Commission’s ruling does not prevent the merger from happening, and if the CSF is unwilling to modify its proposal satisfactorily, then we have everything in place to contest the proposal through litigation.
“I am grateful to everybody who has contributed to date, and we now have a clear strategy for the next phase of our operation, should this be necessary.”
The action group has stated that if the merger does not go ahead the money raised will go into a bursary fund to support young people from Coventry and the surrounding being educated at both schools.
Coventry School Foundation’s planned merger will see pupils aged six to 11 based at the former KHVIII campus and secondary pupils, aged 11 to 18, based at Bablake starting from September.
Opponents to the merger feel there has been a lack of prior consultation and say these two historic independent schools have operated successfully as separate entities for hundreds of years with KHVIII – poet Philip Larkin’s former school – dating back to 1344; while Bablake was founded in 1545.
A recent survey found 95 per cent of parents of nearly 600 pupils within Coventry School Foundation were against the merger.
In response Andrew Wright, the Project Lead, Bablake and King Henry VIII School, said: “I have seen the results of the survey and am obviously disappointed with the findings. I know the restructure has created strong feelings.
“Bablake and King Henry VIII schools have proudly served Coventry and the wider region for over 1,150 years combined, so the passion for the schools is to be both expected and something for us to be proud of.
“Throughout that time our schools have been on a continuous journey of adaptation, responding to the varying demands and circumstances of their time.
“Then, as now, decisions have been taken based on balancing the educational needs of current families, with the imperative to be sustainable for generations of families to come.
“People’s views are incredibly important to us. That’s why we have held meetings and surgeries, and continue to have many individual conversations and correspondences with families and others.
“Our headteachers continue to be available should parents want to speak to them directly.”
Coventry School Foundation is currently awaiting the outcome of a fact-finding inquiry by the Charity Commission.