The Birkenhead/Noctorum divide
THIS afternoon I went to Noctorum Community Centre to meet parents who have been leading a campaign to save Ridgeway High in its current form.
Wirral Council has put forward proposals to replace Park High, Rock Ferry High and Ridgeway with a mixed sex academy and an all-boys academy - but it's likely that, if the plans are approved, both would be in Birkenhead (one possibly on Borough Road)
Ridgeway's parents are concerned standards would fall as a result and fear their children's education would be disrupted.
And they have another big worry - geography.
One look at the map and it probably seems simple - Noctorum is right by Oxton, so it's just down the road from Birkenhead. Not far away at all. Right?
For some of the parents at Ridgeway, the idea of their son or daughter travelling to the centre of Birkenhead to go to school is like me reporting on Wirral from the moon.
It's more or less the same issue the council faced twelve months ago when it decided to save some pennies by closing a few libraries.
As one parent put it this afternoon, "People don't want to travel to Birkenhead, they want to stay here. Noctorum is like a town."
Angela Thompson, who set up the Save Ridgeway High School group on Facebook, said: "Our kids want to stay on the Noctorum estate because, even if they go up to the Arno, they get bullied.
"Kids from Noctorum and kids from Birkenhead don't get on. Some of the lads from this estate won't go down town at all.
"If it comes to it, I'll get a tutor rather than sending my kids to school in Birkenhead. It's worrying for us and they don't take that into account.
"Everything we have - including the library and community centre - is within the grounds of the school.
"It makes sense to leave it here."
Oxton Lib Dem Councillor Pat Williams was at this afternoon's meeting.
She said: "It's important that people are listened to and quite clearly there is a very strong commitment to this school.
"Two of my children came here and they had a good education.
"I believe that schools should be as much within the community as possible. People do not want to move out of the community."
Cllr Williams will be presenting a petition calling for Ridgeway to be saved at next Monday's full council meeting.
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