Campaigners call on Paul McCartney in fight against Rye College ‘cuts’

Campaigners fighting against proposed ‘cuts’ at Rye College have written to Sir Paul McCartney for his support.

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Daryl Devlia set up an online petition, which he said has attracted more than 1,500 signatures so far.

He said: “Rye College is conducting a curriculum reorganisation consultation behind closed doors.

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“They are proposing to cut several teachers and teaching assistants’ jobs, meaning a number of GCSEs would be removed from the curriculum.

“Last year they stopped teaching computer science and food technology. Now they are proposing to cut textiles, travel and tourism, graphics and most importantly dance and drama.

“The suggestion is that the school focuses on core subjects only. Staff, students and parents do not agree with this and feel that a broad and well-balanced curriculum must include a variety of subjects, including the arts.

“Rye College (formerly Thomas Peacock) has always had a good reputation for its art and performing arts subjects. Parents send their children to Rye specifically for these subjects, with a large percentage of pupils travelling a long distance to study there.

“Compared to similar size schools Rye has a higher proportion of students studying dance and drama GCSEs and grades in these subjects are good.

“If these subjects are removed there would be little reason for any parents outside of the catchment area to send their children to Rye, which would lead to the collapse of it’s reputation and then inevitable financial collapse of the school.

“We are all devastated about the proposed cuts. I have a daughter in year 9 and son in year 10 and this directly effects their futures. There is a huge amount of unrest and anxiety shared by everyone at the school.

“Staff have struggled through the pandemic to be treated very poorly and are understandably very upset at the prospect of compulsory redundancies. Children’s mental health has been strained and this is certainly not helping or in their best interests.

“I have written to Sir Paul McCartney to see if he would support our petition.”

The petition can be found by clicking here.

Parent Steve Murphy said he was ‘disgusted’ at the proposals.

He added: “This school is known and sold as an arts college and yet they are eroding this.

“As an engineer I support the improvements in STEM subjects but not at the detriment to the arts and students who are more focused in these areas. The subjects cut (or paused as the school calls it) already include textiles and design which cross over between the STEM and arts.

“Some of these students struggle with more academic focused subjects but excel in their creativity. This last year has shown how much we need creativity and the arts.”

Rye College is managed by Aquinas Academy Trust.

Barry Blakelock, executive headteacher, said: “Rye College is currently consulting with colleagues on how best to secure the national curriculum and other statutory subjects.

“As with anything of this nature, we would first consult colleagues before inviting the views of other stakeholders if any substantial changes were proposed.

“This process ensures our school remains strong and stable going forward and no one should be unduly concerned.

“Over recent years Rye College has undergone significant transformation to become one of the highest performing schools in the local area. We look forward to building on this good work, sensitive to the views of our students and their families.”