THE West Somerset Labour Party has joined in the debate on the proposed schooling changes in the district - and says schools should be working together, not "competing for pupils". 

 Last week, the County Gazette revealed how Minehead Middle School had announced plans to teach GCSEs.

This was in response to West Somerset College’s proposal to teach students from year seven to help parents if Dulverton Middle School shuts.

The party said: “This branch is concerned about the changes in age-range proposed by Minehead Middle School and West Somerset College and the implications for West Somerset’s three tier system.

“We believe schools should not be competing for pupils but should be working together to secure the best education system for all pupils.

“We support parents in Dulverton who are opposed to the Government’s unfair funding criteria and who want Dulverton Middle School to continue to take pupils in years seven and eight.

“We urge the governors of West Community College, Minehead Middle School, and other West Somerset schools to meet to draw up a strategy to provide the best system of education for all the district’s children.”

The party  sent out letters to the governors of West Somerset College and Minehead Middle School asking the two boards of governors to work together to find a solution.

The chairmen and vice-chairmen of schools including West Somerset College, Minehead Middle, Knights Templar, Crowcombe and Stogumber, Dulverton and the chairman of the Exmoor Coast Federation of schools are holding a meeting on Monday. T

he meeting is to discuss the changes and get feedback.

Martina Forster, chairman of the Minehead Middle School governors, said: “We try and hold a meeting every term to see where we’re all at; this is nothing new and the letter from the Labour party is completely out of the blue.

“Our consultation with 1,200 parents across the Exmoor Coast Federation ends on Friday but, so far, the feedback we’ve had has been 80% positive and in support of us including years nine, ten and 11.”

 Labour’s parliamentary candidate Mick Lerry said:“There is great danger of education becoming fragmented in West Somerset, rather than community schools working together.

"I feel sure that parents and carers in West Somerset want a good local school for their children

. "If the different schools seek to change their status from middle to secondary or to a junior school, with the added knock on affect to feeder schools, then there is a chance that this could lead to school closures.

"There has to be a better way where schools and colleges and communities work together in a collaborative way for the students of West Somerset.”

In a letter to the Labour Party , the middle school chair, Martina Forster said “The time for talking with the West Somerset College has passed.”

Mrs Forster adds that the college have been “deaf to our pleas”.

And she openly says “our vision for the future is that there should be two secondary schools in Minehead.”