Parents vow to fight on despite failing to stop Casterton-Sedbergh school merger (From The Westmorland Gazette)
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Parents vow to fight on despite failing to stop Casterton-Sedbergh school merger
CASTERTON School campaigners have vowed to fight on after failing in their bid to stop it merging with neighbouring Sedbergh.
A group of parents whose daughters attend all-girl Casterton withdrew plans to seek a High Court injunction to stop the merger after being threatened with a £1.6m lawsuit by the school’s governors.
Furious at not being consulted over the plans, Casterton Parents Limited received international donations to mount their legal challenge, which they hoped would delay the move to allow time for other options for the school, near Kirkby Lonsdale, to be considered.
But the group said legal teams advising the governors of Casterton and Sedbergh School had warned them that if they had taken the fight to court, the parents could face a £1.6 million lawsuit for ‘damages’.
Andrew Fleck, Sedbergh School headmaster, confirmed that the transfer of assest from Casterton to Sedbergh took place at one minute past midnight on Monday.
But Casterton Parents Limited this week declared: “It doesn’t mean the campaign to save Casterton is over - it just means we couldn’t stop the merger.”
Sarah Short, the group’s spokesperson, said: “Clearly we need to regroup and consider our position.
“We don’t want to make Casterton parents vulnerable to a £1.6 million lawsuit.
“This merger is being rushed through, full facts have not been disclosed and there appears to be little consideration to the massive upheaval for the children and their parents.”
The group has now requested that Professor David Jackman, a former professor of ethics in education, looks into the merger process on behalf of the parents.
Mrs Short added: “If Professor Jackman tells us this is the only option, then we are prepared to accept their decision.
“However, we’re not prepared to sit back and accept this ‘fait accompli’ and the appalling way it was communicated without getting some answers to reasonable questions.”
Mr Fleck said around 40 parents and children of Casterton School had visited Sedbergh School over the past week and that he was continuing to meet with them.
“Clearly different families are making different arrangements and we have enjoyed meeting Casterton families.
“I think some of them have enjoyed their visit to Sedbergh,” said Mr Fleck.
“It has allowed us to clarify the needs of different Casterton families and adjust accordingly and, perhaps, dispel some myths which are circulating.”
Mr Fleck said both sets of staff would know at the beginning of next week whether their posts are to transfer automatically or whether they are at risk.
Staff will be informed of the consultation process by which selection of staff will be made on Monday, he added.