City schools in surprise new merger

Jul 5, 2012 Full story: Ripon Gazette 52

Ripon's cash-strapped Cathedral Choir School is to leave its home in the city merge with nearby Cundall Manor.

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Concerned Parent

York, UK

#1 Jul 5, 2012
This may be good news for Ripon Choir School parents and pupils as they were failing financially and had to find a workable solution or close. However it is defenitely not good news for the parents and pupils at Cundall. What is currently a reasonable little prep school will now change to one having to gear certain aspects of its running to the needs of Ripon Cathedral. It will now make the school too big. All the talk of this or that new facilities is over-hyped. There are many Cundall parents who are not happy about this. Let us hope the Governors see sense and drop the scheme.
This is not good news

March, UK

#2 Jul 6, 2012
I agree. This is very bad news for Cundall Manor parents. Why should we help them? For a quick cheque! Not impressive. We didn't need to merge with them. It was Ripon Choir School that has problems. We should keep well away. Ripon Cathedral just wants a choir, they will call the tune with all their children. I have heard they need to be bussed to the Cathedral virtually daily and don't even get time for supper. Poor little mites. Cundall Manor may want to give them a good education, but all Ripon Cathedral will want is their choir jumping to attention on every occassion. They don't even get proper school holidays. Not good news at all for Cundal. Too much interference coming. I don't believe all the wonderful hype either.
View from the Grandstand

Bromley, UK

#3 Jul 6, 2012
"I have heard they ... don't even get time for supper. Poor little mites." I wonder which hot source of local gossip dreamt this one up. Not true, or even close. Laughable what people will believe.
"They don't even get proper school holidays." Not close again. Shorter possibly, but only by approx 2 weeks a year. Longer than state schools.
Do you believe that, long term, numbers will rise by many more than the number of choristers? 20-30 perhaps?
I, too, think this is a bad move, but only because, as a school with such a proud tradition, Ripon Cathedral Choir School shouldn't be diluting itself and joining forces with a school that is so clearly not geared towards its needs - I know from experience the type of school that regards as its main strength "sporting excellence". The debts may be large, but not cripplingly so in the wider scheme of things. The pupil numbers are low because of lack of funding and facilities. There is another way out of this. It would require initiative that few seem willing to show. I would love to see Cundall turn this merger down. It might force Ripon to get its act together. An unlikely course of events, I fear.
This is not good news

Chef-boutonne, France

#4 Jul 9, 2012
THIS IS NOT GOOD NEWS ESPECIALLY FOR THE CHOIR SCHOOL, NOT JUST CUNDALL! AS A PAST PUPIL OF RCCS I FEEL AS IF THE SCHOOL WAS A GREAT STARTER FOR ME IN LIFE. THE SCHOOL WAS MORE LIKE A FAMILY DUE TO ITS SMALL COMMUNITY. EVERYONE KNEW EVERYONE THIS IS WHAT MADE RIPON CHOIR SCHOOL SUCH A GREAT PLACE TO BE. IT ALSO CONCENTRATED GREATLY ON MUSIC WHICH IS WHY SO MANY TALENTED MUSICIANS CAME OUT OF THE SCHOOL, AS YOU WILL SEE FROM THE HUGE AMOUNT OF SCHOLARSHIPS ON THE MUSIC SCHOLARSHIP BOARDS! THESE BOARDS MUST BE BROUGHT TO THE NEW 'RIPON CUNDALL MANOR' AND CONTINUED! JOINING WITH CUNDALL MANOR WILL REDUCE THIS CONCENTRATED FIELD OF MUSIC AND I FEAR THE MUSICAL MEMBERS OF THE SCHOOL WILL SUFFER, AND NOT BE ABLE TO FULFILL THEIR FULL POTENTIAL AS THEY WOULD HAVE DONE AT THE CHOIR SCHOOL! THIS JOINING IS SUCH A SHAME FOR THE CHOIR SCHOOL!!!
Ripon North Yorkshire

UK

#5 Jul 14, 2012
The scholarship boards and school equipment will of course be taken over to Cundall. Most of the comments listed above also stem from complete ignorance as to the proper process the governors have taken on to ensure that there is a future at all for the choir school. The merger option comes as a very welcome last option, lest Ripon should lose its chorister music completely. Surely a school with strengths in sport should welcome those with particular strengths in music with open arms? All round excellence and opportunity is something to aspire to. On the subject of the chorister timetable, this fits easily into the daily timetable with little or no disruption to those who are not choristers. Please do your research before judging!
Angry Parents

York, UK

#6 Jul 16, 2012
Don't believe all the hype. The Choristers are there for one thing only and one thing only - that is to serve Ripon Cathedral. Evensong, Sundays, Easter, Christmas - in fact all the religious festivals. So now with the added bus journey they will barely get time to have a proper hot supper. Why would Ripon Cathedral be putting a cheque towards some new facilities at Cundall? To sweeten the pill and get a merger. They will do whatever is necessary to keep their choir regardless of the disruption it will cause.
Ripon Choir School was a lovely little school that served its parents and children well. The education wasn't that hot but then again parents didn't chose it for that.
Ripon Cathedral said they were going to sell the site to Persimmon for house building and that would raise the money needed to run the Choir School, give them decent buildings and facilities plus a future. So is the sale off to Persimmon for millions of pounds - no way. The Cathderal as owners will pocket the lot. Debts to pay off - yes but not millions of pounds. A cheque to Cundall - yes, but still not millions of pounds. Some might say shabby treatment of parents and children of Ripon Choir school.
Several parents can't see the benefit for those coming from Ripon Choir School compared to what was promised only back in April. And as for Cundall - either you run a proper prep school or you don't. If you run it as it should and give a good education there will not be time for them to be choristers as well. You can't have both. It takes many hours a week being a chorister, not just forever going back and forth to the Cathedral and singing but all the practising too. So who is the only winner is all of this sorry tale - Ripon Cathedral!
Angry Parents

York, UK

#7 Jul 16, 2012
AND further who is interested in the proper process the Governors have taken? It wasn't a last option as the sale to Persimmon still goes ahead. Was it because the Head of Ripon Choir School decided to leave as he knew Ripon Cathderal was going to renege on their promise of new premises and facilities? As for a Choristers timetable fitting easily into Cundall's daily timetable - I can't see how it can if you are running a proper school timetable. Something has to go - honesty seems to be taking a back seat amongst all the nice platitudes being sprayed around in the hope to dampen down the anger.
Clearly we are not alone in realising this is NOT GOOD NEWS for either School.
Parents of Ripon Choir School realise they have been given short change and that they have lost all that was dear to them and the reason they chose the Choir School in the first place.
Before too long many more Cundall parents will wake up to the fact that a small specialist group of choristers do not fit easily into a school that does not, nor has ever been, attempting to run as a school for Choristers.
As for doing our research -- please credit us with some common sense because we pay the fees!!
Not happy

Selby, UK

#8 Jul 16, 2012
I, along with many of my friends, are not happy with this merger. We do not think this will benefit Cundall at all and only serves the needs of Ripon Cathderal. To answer a comment above. Word is Ripon Choir School had already appointed a replacement Head and then changed their minds as they found this merger was a cheaper option. Cundall is not, and does not want to be, known as a School for Choristers. This merger will undeniably change the character and ethos of Cundall for the worse. If they do not call a halt quickly, Cundall will find it loses as many pupils as it thinks it is getting. We are firmly against this merger and we, along with several other parents, have already started looking elsehwere. Let Cundall try to enforce its one terms notice when it makes such a huge change to its school. This is not what I, and many other parents, signed up for.
We don't want it, and from what we hear, neither do the parents of children at Ripon Choir School. Shame on you Ripon Cathedral, you have put your profits of the sale of the site above those of the children you want as your Choristers.
Dear Parents

Manchester, UK

#9 Jul 16, 2012
It's a shame that everyone has to use forums like this to be heard. Has anyone asked the parents what they would like? These are two charities at the end of day - there to serve the children, not anyone's pockets or egos. It's the children, parents and staff that actually make up the schools. Not the church, and NOT the governors. There is so much gossip about decisionS being made without anyone's knowledge. Well kick up a fuss then!! You pay the fees!
Angry Aunt

Leeds, UK

#10 Jul 17, 2012
My sister's children are distraught at the closure of the Choir School. Neither of them is a chorister, but they both love the wonderful, family atmosphere and security of the small school.
This ill-conceived merger (if it goes ahead - and there seem to be a number of hurdles that the board of governors, in rushing into this, have ignored) has been foisted on parents with no consultation at all. After making promises and guarantees about a number of initiatives over the last two years (a merger with a large education trust; a move to a new site), the governing body claim this is a "very welcome last option" (see comment 5 above). Well, it isn't welcome and it's appalling that after all the time they have had to sort this, it is a last option. Why have the last two years been wasted, when so much could have been achieved to secure the school's future? Surely this fiasco of a merger represents mismanagement of the highest order?
Finally, when trying to allay her children's worries about moving to the new school, my sister told them that there would be familiar faces going with them, as she had been told that all Ripon staff were transferring to Cundall Manor. Well, from talking with staff over the last week, it seems that this isn't happening either.
So many misleading statements and all of this happening over the summer when there is so little time for anyone to do anything about it. My sister and her husband are now trying desperately to find an alternative school for September, but it is proving so difficult.
Is there something, even at this late hour, that can be done to change all this and somehow save the Choir School?
Betrayed Parent

York, UK

#11 Jul 17, 2012
I too had been told all the staff were moving from Ripon Choir School to Cundall. Now it appears this is not the case. Throughout all of this fiasco we feel betrayed and let down. Clearly the belief was that the nice sanitised press release and photo of all those top people concerned, grinning and shaking hands, was meant to allay fears and make us happy.
For such a fundamental change to both Schools you would have thought both sides would have asked their existing parents for views but no!
Ripon Choir parents quite rightly feel this is a badly thoughout shambles and designed to save the Cathedral money. Cundall parents are waking up to the fact that this proposed merger is not in their best interests and will radically change the school we all know and love for ever.
The only incentive to Cundall is the "bribe" of money towards a new Music and Arts Centre. Well to those in charge think again. The bribe has not worked. We were doing very well without the Choir School (sorry nothing against the Choir School here, but it is true).
Can both sides please now STOP and undo this terrible decision and stop thinking we are all stupid?
Remember if enough Cundall parents walk, and this is what is beginning to happen, Cundall will end up being a big loser in all this.
Disgusted of Ripon

York, UK

#12 Jul 20, 2012
Quite honestly, in my humble opinion, I really don’t believe Cundall Manor has any intention of merging with RCCS at all. Why have the hassle of having to deal with redundancies etc. and risk upsetting their own parents by changing the name of their school – which I gather has gone down like a lead balloon. Far better to let RCCS close down, then very kindly offer to ‘house’ the choir and possibly pick up a few extra pupils at the same time. Thereby gaining the kudos of having a first rate choir at Cundall Manor and more importantly picking up a nice cheque in the process. Which quite frankly is what it was all about in the first place.
Dear Parents

Manchester, UK

#13 Jul 20, 2012
Well that makes perfect sense! The governors are telling us Cundall parents that the staff will keep their jobs and the church won't be heavily involved. But apparently this is at odds with what Ripon parents have been told. They have been told the church will be on the governing body and that cundall will have to restructure to accommodate the choristers.
If this merger fails it'll be too late for Ripon to reform for September, the children will have to either go to Cundall or elsewhere, Cundall staff will stay.....but the church will still need somewhere for the choristers! Bingo - Cundall remains Cundall, takes the choristers, and the church gives them some cash in return! So everyone's happy.....apart from the poor Ripon kids.
Angry Aunt

Stevenage, UK

#14 Jul 20, 2012
Merger off. Ripon Choir School to shut with immediate effect.
So many who should hang their head in shame tonight. An absolute tragedy for the pupils, parents and staff, who have been let down so badly.
One hope - that enough Ripon parents, friends and supporters can work together to resurrect what is such a lovely school. Please may that happen.
Not happy

Selby, UK

#15 Jul 20, 2012
What a mess!

"Angry Aunt" said

"After making promises and guarantees about a number of initiatives over the last two years (a merger with a large education trust; a move to a new site), the governing body claim this is a "very welcome last option."

I believe the large Education Trust was Queen Ethelburga's. Apparently they already have all the new shiny music facilities anyone could want with their new £4m Music and Drama Centre, barely 12 months old and better than anything planned at Cundall. All Queen Ethelburga’s suggested was that any specialist music staff Ripon wanted would be paid for by Ripon Cathedral, any Choir students would have their fees paid by the Cathedral (with small parental contribution) and the Cathedral would pay for transporting the children back and forth. Word is QE would have done a bulk deal on fees giving the Cathedral a decent discount. What they wouldn’t do is allow Ripon Cathedral to sit on their Board of Governors or get involved in the Management of their Schools. It appears it was left that if Ripon Cathedral were interested they would come back to QE to thrash out the detail. As far as I know Ripon Cathedral never bothered to even go back to them.

So even now there is a way forward that would save Ripon Catedral choir.
Sad of N Yorks

UK

#16 Jul 20, 2012
It is a sad day when a super little school like the choir school closes. Anyone who thinks it wasn't a great education should perhaps look at their most recent inspection report and the scholarship successes. I had friends with children there - what a lovely, lovely school. I also have it on good authority that the educational trust was NOT queen ethelburgas.
There are many wonderful pupils, parents and staff who must be devastated.
Not Happy

Selby, UK

#17 Jul 20, 2012
Well whether the Education Trust mentioned by Angry Aunt was Queen Ethelburga's or not, we do know Ripon Cathedral went to Queen Ethelburga's and what we said above WAS the offer that was made to them. This IS common knowledge amongst those given the task of saving the Choir. So there was, and we suspect still is,a route that is available to the Cathedral if they want it.

And we agree with you when you say...
There are many wonderful pupils, parents and staff who must be devastated.
Done my homework

Lynn, UK

#18 Jul 20, 2012
To say the education wasnt that hot at the choir school is utter rubbish and quite frankly insulting to the excellent staff who worked long and hard to ensure pupils achieved great success. If people bothered to read the recent ISI report perhaps they wouldn't make such flippant comments!!
Disgusted of Ripon

York, UK

#19 Jul 21, 2012
What an absolute disgrace! Shame on you Cundall Governors, pulling the plug at the eleventh hour. Why?? The financial package not quite what you thought it was going to be? All the months wasted in negotiations with Cundall, believing in them, when some other plan could have been put in place - but its too late now.

Some RCCS pupils spent three days at Cundall getting to know their new classmates. Everyone making sure they felt welcome and showing them a good time. Will Cundall stand by its promises of the same fees/scholarships received at Ripon? If not, is that really the way to treat children?
So Sad

Sheffield, UK

#20 Jul 21, 2012
This is so sad! RCCS pupils and parents must feel so let down. RCCS must have a future. Why has it not become a state boarding school along with RGS. A lovely school that will be missed if it cannot be saved. I would buy it if it was up for sale at the right price but the land that it stands on is to valuable for RCCS to stay where it is.

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