A PETITION has been launched by parents to stop the proposed merger of two top independent schools in Coventry – Bablake and King Henry VIII.
The merger, announced last Thursday (October 1) by Coventry School Foundation, plans for the two historic schools to become a single all-through day school for three to 18-year-olds called Coventry School by September 2021.
Parents have expressed their anger and shock over a “lack of consultation” prior to the announcement. The petition claims the proposed merger “only seemed to be motivated by the incentive of profit”.
Arguments against the merger raised by parents include the view that it is important both schools retain their distinct historic identities, many are also opposed to the new name.
The parents of one Year 8 child at King Henry VIII School, said: “The merger announcement email was a complete shock, two years in planning yet the governors kept this to themselves.
“We would not have placed our child there in Year 7 if we knew this was in the pipeline, this is not what we signed up for.
“We all have personal choice as to why we chose our preferred school and do not want two great schools to be increased in size as firstly, King Henry’s will lose its ‘family feel’ environment.
“I am angry that no consultation was made with parents, children or staff of either school to gauge whether this would be welcomed. We sacrifice a lot to send our children to these schools and as such should have a say in its future.”
Another parent, who has two children at King Henry VIII School, said: “I am disgusted at the way the school has gone about making this announcement. I suspect you will find a large portion of parents feel the same way as highlighted by the rapidly growing online petition to stop this.”
In a letter to Coventry School Foundation, the parent wrote: “Both Henry’s and Bablake have long and distinctive traditions and identities which will be wiped out in the stroke of a pen with this outrageous decision.
“Having spoken with numerous other parents I believe you have greatly underestimated the strength of feeling against this shocking decision and request that this proposal is reversed with immediate effect and any future proposals regarding Henry’s and Bablake are conducted in an open and transparent manner allowing proper time for consultation and feedback from those who are impacted most by these decisions – the pupils and their parents.”
A former Bablake pupil, who signed the petition, said: “This merger is an appalling decision and the ethos of Bablake will ultimately be lost. Coventry School means absolutely nothing and lends no heed to the rich history, tradition and culture of both schools… not to mention the famous (friendly) sporting rivalry! It screams anonymity and blandness.”
Last Thursday when she made the announcement, Julia McNaney, Chair of Governors for the Coventry School Foundation, said: “The creation of the new Coventry School is the next chapter in that proud history. By creating dedicated age-specific campuses under a single Coventry School leadership we will provide more choice and opportunity to every child. Coventry School will be a place where our valued heritage is thoughtfully preserved and where exciting new futures are forged.”
Coventry School Foundation has created a project website to share updates – coventryschool.org – and said families, pupils, staff, alumni and others will be invited to get involved in shaping specific aspects of the new Coventry School in the next few months.
A comment to come from Coventry School Foundation.