Waltham Forest Echo

Waltham Forest Echo

Two single-sex schools reveal plan to merge

The single-sex schools insist they will still teach boys and girls separately

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Two single-sex schools in the south of the borough plan to merge into a single academy trust.Two single-sex schools in the south of the borough plan to merge into a single academy trust.

Norlington School for Boys and Connaught School for Girls sent letters to parents explaining the merger will allow them to "share resources" and offer “protection within a changing education landscape”.Norlington School for Boys and Connaught School for Girls sent letters to parents explaining the merger will allow them to "share resources" and offer “protection within a changing education landscape”.

However, both schools insist they are "committed" to remaining single sex.However, both schools insist they are "committed" to remaining single sex.

Connaught headteacher Avani Higgins wrote: “Recent events, such as the pandemic, mean we have learnt that we can’t stand still and must always be looking ahead.Connaught headteacher Avani Higgins wrote: “Recent events, such as the pandemic, mean we have learnt that we can’t stand still and must always be looking ahead.

“A key element of our success is the positive working relationship that exists with local schools and the local authority.“A key element of our success is the positive working relationship that exists with local schools and the local authority.

“Following a review by the Exceptional Education Trust [which runs Norlington School]... a proposal has been tabled to formalise a partnership between the trusts that is able to oversee both schools.“Following a review by the Exceptional Education Trust [which runs Norlington School]... a proposal has been tabled to formalise a partnership between the trusts that is able to oversee both schools.

“The educational landscape is changing rapidly. Both schools recognise that we must take action to preserve our individual character and ethos, which we are very proud of and know means a lot to the local community.”“The educational landscape is changing rapidly. Both schools recognise that we must take action to preserve our individual character and ethos, which we are very proud of and know means a lot to the local community.”

Last year, Connaught School in Leytonstone made headlines when a former teacher was jailed for two years after grooming a student.Last year, Connaught School in Leytonstone made headlines when a former teacher was jailed for two years after grooming a student.

At the time, Ms Higgins, who was not headteacher when the crime took place, said Ofsted and Waltham Forest Council had carried out "a very rigorous safeguarding inspection" after it came to light and were satisfied the school was safe.At the time, Ms Higgins, who was not headteacher when the crime took place, said Ofsted and Waltham Forest Council had carried out "a very rigorous safeguarding inspection" after it came to light and were satisfied the school was safe.

She added: “I can categorically state that your children are safe at our school."She added: “I can categorically state that your children are safe at our school."

Both Connaught School and Norlington School in Leyton have been academies for at least six years.Both Connaught School and Norlington School in Leyton have been academies for at least six years.

In their letters to parents, both headteachers said the schools will keep their own identity, have their own governing bodies and share staff training.In their letters to parents, both headteachers said the schools will keep their own identity, have their own governing bodies and share staff training.

They emphasise that there will be no staff restructures and that both schools will be equal partners in the merged trust.They emphasise that there will be no staff restructures and that both schools will be equal partners in the merged trust.

The schools and the local community are invited to share their views on the merger in a consultation which ends on 1st April.The schools and the local community are invited to share their views on the merger in a consultation which ends on 1st April.