Royston schools merger: We are absolutely looking out for the children, says new RSAT headteacher

New Royston headteacher Gordon Farquhar.

New Royston headteacher Gordon Farquhar. - Credit: Archant

The new headteacher appointed by Royston Schools Academy Trust to lead the new through school has spoken to the Crow in the wake of the announcement that theschools will not merge in the next academic year.

Gordon Farquhar was given the top job by RSAT earlier this year, but parents were told on Monday that – because of a delay in the Department for Education’s decision as to whether the merger of Roysia and Greneway middle Schools and Meridian School could go ahead – that for 2018/19 year all sites would remain open.

Mr Farquhar told the Crow: “We are still committed to merging, we are absolutely confident it will happen – and from September 2018 I will be head of the three schools.

“It just hasn’t been decided because of delays in boards meeting, most likely because of issues with the weather this year, but we have to come to a point of when we make the call.

“If we got it approved tomorrow we wouldn’t change that, this is the right thing to do.

“On Monday last week we had a meeting about how to get the best of all three schools, we are absolutely looking out for the children.

“I believe children in Year 5 at Roysia should get to have the same experience as a child in Year 13 at Meridian, and I think we have got this amazing opportunitunity to build that comphrehensive curriculum.

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“We’re doing this because this is the way that we take the good things from each school, build on them and ultimatley do things better.

When asked if he thought RSAT’s original plans – for the children to be in the through school 12-months on from it being announced – were too ambitious, Mr Farquhar said: “If we get told as a school we were too ambitious, I’d take that any day of the week.

“It’s only natural to be able to want to deliver on that ambition.

“I’m satisfied that RSAT has done everything they needed to do when they were asked to do it, so I don’t believe things could have been done any differently.”

When asked about the RSAT consultation to parents – the result of which was that 49 per cent of parents opposed the merger, 40 per cent support it and 11 per cent were indifferent – he said: “We are never going to please 100 percent of people, but we are bringing our experience and expertise to the decision.

“It’s important to hear what people think – why people are against and why they have concerns – it’s important for people to voice their concerns because it’s their children.

“We have a consultation to look at both sides and we are not being flippant. A consultation is not a vote, it’s a way of weighing up concerns, advantages and disadvantages, and listening to everything – and I will sit down with parents and explain that, listen to their concerns and take some on board.

“It’s a new situation, but change is not a bad thing. And it’s not the building – it’s the people that are in there that make a school.

“We have got this year to plan for Roysia, and as we have the school for another 12 months, and I can get to know what makes Roysia what it is. Every school brings something different.”

Mr Farquhar, who is currently the head of Joyce Frankland Academy in Newport near Saffron Walden, said he wouldn’t have taken the job if he didn’t think it was an amazing opportunity, and the right thing to do.

He said: “When I was interviewed, I was told I would be the head of the new through school if they got the decision, or head of three schools until that decision came through – a plan A and a plan B.

“This is an opportunity to do it better. The vision, values and dedication are there, we have now got 12 months to get people used to the idea.

“I have got to know the town a little bit. Will I be moving here? No, I have got a job to do and I want to do it well I need to be a little bit further away to distance my home life and my work life.

“I have never missed a remembrance service in Newport while at Joyce Frankland, and I go to parish council meetings when they need me to. So I will be a face around town in Royston. But it is important to me keep my work life and family life separate to look at things objectively.”