Catherine McKinnell headshot

With regard to the Gosforth Group school admissions process, I wanted to let you know that I am very aware of the ongoing concerns and continue to work on behalf of constituents on this matter. I recently met with a number of parents whose children have been impacted by the allocations process, to hear firsthand the ongoing concerns of parents and families.

As you may know, I wrote to the Secretary of State for Education about the situation facing families in the Gosforth area, and you can read the letter I wrote to her here. The Secretary of State passed the matter on to Baroness Barran, an Education Minister in the House of Lords responsible for academies and multi-academy trusts, to respond to, and you can read her response here. I am disappointed with her response as it fails to adequately acknowledge the huge difficulties this situation has created for the families affected, does not adequately acknowledge the Department’s failures to ensure appropriate and timely school place provision, the request to provide concrete plans to support families now impacted, or outline what steps will be taken to ensure that this does not happen again. I will continue to press these matters with the Department for Education. 

I also met with Gosforth Group’s senior leadership team to raise parents’ concerns directly with them. I understand that Gosforth Group have been keen to reassure parents about the curriculum and extra-curricular activities at Great Park Academy, however there remain many outstanding issues which I am continuing to raise.

School transport is an ongoing discussion, which I have been involved in prior to the current concerns over the allocation of school places. It is my view that the responsibility for ensuring children can safely travel to school must be met by a combined effort of the local authority, bus companies, and the Gosforth Group, and I will continue working with all those involved to push for adequate provision for students.

I also appreciate many parents remain very concerned about the Gosforth Group’s appeals process in relation to the allocation of school places. I raised the concerns with the Gosforth Group, and was advised that the appeals will be managed by an independent body. I have again written to them to seek further details and clarity, and to stress the need for this process to be undertaken in a way that retains the trust of all families involved. I have also written to Newcastle City Council to ensure clarity across all parties.

I will of course provide a further update when I receive more information about the appeals process, but in the meantime please do keep in touch.