School Organisation - Current Consultations

What is this consultation about?

Parents can send their children to a secondary school of their choice providing that the school has a place available. If that school is the catchment, or qualifying nearest school, and is further than the statutory walking distance of 3 miles, then it is likely transport to the school would be free for those aged under 16.

In recent years changes in application levels for secondary schools in Whitehaven have affected the availability of places in West Lakes Academy for some of those within its own catchment area.  Specifically, those children in the Gosforth, Seascale and St Bega's primary school areas can find that they are offered a place in Whitehaven Academy as their next nearest school, rather than West Lakes Academy.

Millom School lies south of West Lakes Academy and may be considered a more geographically linked alternative by those living towards the southern end of West Lakes catchment area. Currently, however, those choosing Millom will not currently be eligible for free transport since it is neither the catchment school, nor the nearest.

The county council wants to hear your views on potentially changing the options available to those living in the Gosforth, Seascale and St Bega's primary school areas.

Option 1 View Map 4,378 kb

Those living in the Gosforth, Seascale and St Bega's primary areas would be entitled to free transport to either West Lakes Academy or Millom School (or the next nearest school). On the map the area is shown in red shading, the green shading shows Millom School catchment and the blue area is West Lakes catchment. The red lines on the maps denote existing secondary catchment boundaries.  Effectively, this gives parents catchment priority and a transport entitlement to two secondary schools.

Option 2 View Map 4,510 kb

Those living in the Gosforth, Seascale and St Bega's primary areas would be entitled to free transport to Millom School as they would become part of the catchment area shown in green on the map. The blue shaded area would be a reduced West Lakes catchment area, and the Millom catchment area would be expanded.  (NB - this would require West Lakes Academy to amend its admissions policy; the County Council has no power to bring about such a change.)  Parents in St Bega's, Seascale and Gosforth catchments would still be able to apply for a place at West Lakes Academy, but would have a lower priority for admissions.  Should they be allocated a place, however, it is likely that the majority would continue to qualify for free transport to West Lakes Academy under the current Home to School Transport policy, as it would be their nearest school.  (Free transport entitlement would depend on measurements to individual houses, and is not guaranteed.) 

Option 3 View Map 4,489 kb

With this option areas would remain unchanged with West Lakes catchment area shown in blue and that of Millom School in green.  Parents would retain their current priority for places at West Lakes Academy, and their current transport entitlements.

Click to view more detailed maps of the Gosforth, Seascale and St Bega's area: Detail Map 8,985 kb

What next

This process is aimed at gathering views to help the County Council decide whether it should formally consult on a change to local admission arrangements.  In coming to that decision, the Council will take into account not only the views of parents, but of local schools, County Councillors, and the Carlisle Church of England Diocese, as well as taking into account factors such as the likely costs involved, and the implications for the wider school admissions policy for Cumbria schools.  Any formal consultation would take place during the autumn term 2021, and any agreed changes to the policy would come into effect for admissions in September 2023, in line with the statutory timetable set out in the School Admissions Code.   The County Council's Cabinet will make final decisions on changes to the policy.

Let us know what you think

Complete the online questionnaire by 30 April 2021. Respond here