Redcar and Cleveland Council has a £90million challenge to shape the future of the Borough's young people - and is urging pupils, teachers, governors and parents to help the Authority make the right decisions.
The investment, to be spread across the Borough's 11 secondary schools and special schools, comes from the Government's Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme, with £10million earmarked for investment in ICT to underpin the development of 'personalised learning' for all students.
The Council's Cabinet Member for Education Councillor Ian Jeffrey said: "BSF is different from other school building initiatives - in terms of its ambition, scale and complexity. It is not simply a building programme - the key focus is on education transformation.
"The focus will be on schools providing a wide range of other services to local communities but we may need to reduce the size of schools to reflect future student numbers and there may be amalgamations or federations where schools may not be viable individually.
"Some schools may become academies or trusts and but all our plans will be geared towards providing excellent facilities and increasing attainment."
The Borough has already benefitted from a multi-million pound investment in education, dating back to November 23, 2001 when former Prime Minister Tony Blair officially opened the £7.7million Rye Hills School at Redcar.
New buildings have since been developed for Bydales Specialist Technology College at Marske, Sacred Heart RC Specialist Science College at Redcar, Gillbrook College at Normanby, Freebrough Specialist Engineering College at Brotton, while a new Huntcliff School at Saltburn is set to open in September.
Councillor Jeffrey said: "BSF will complete our plans for transformation by rebuilding or remodelling the remaining secondary and special schools that have not had investment so far.
"To shape our plans for BSF we must tackle the core issue of having fewer pupils: our secondary school population will drop from 9,700 to 8,000 over the next ten years. How do we change our school provision to match?"
The Borough is divided into three separate educational areas, each with option appraisals. The areas and the options are:
*Redcar and Marske, covering Bydales School, Redcar Community College, Rye Hills and Kirkleatham Hall Special School.
Option 1: Redevelop Redcar Community College for 750 pupils and relocate Kirkleatham Special School onto the same site.
Option 2: Extend Rye Hills and relocate Kirkleatham Special School on the Rye Hills site. Close Redcar Community College. Bydales remain unchanged.
*Eston and Nunthorpe, covering Eston Park, Gillbrook and Nunthorpe.
Option 1: Redevelop Nunthorpe for 1,300 pupils, redevelop Eston Park for 800 pupils, continue to assess the success of the collaborative sixth form. Have a trust to underpin the soft federation of schools in this collaborative.
Option 2: Rebuild Nunthorpe for 1,300 pupils, close Eston Park, close Gillbrook, re-open a 1,200 place school based on the Gillbrook building, possibly as an Academy.
*East Cleveland, covering Laurence Jackson, Freebrough, Huntcliff and Kilton Thorpe.
Option 1: Rebuild Laurence Jackson for a more appropriate size to ensure the number of surplus places is kept to a minimum - to rebuild for 1,000 places would be 200 places less than currently projected. Freebrough could be considered for an Academy or as a trust with the other schools on the same site. Freebrough is located on a single site with Kilton Thorpe Special School and St Peter's C of E Primary. Surplus accommodation may be used to the benefit of all the schools. Option of post 16-satellite provision at Freebrough could be examined.
The Council has also been working with the Diocese of Middlesbrough to look at the Catholic secondary schools - Sacred Heart at Redcar and St Peter's at South Bank, and is investigating three options - 1: Expand Sacred Heart to 900 places to accommodate all the baptised catholic learners in Redcar and Cleveland, 2: To have a Catholic academy on the St Peter's site, 3: To federate Sacred Heart and St Peter's.
The Council's Cabinet will debate the options at its meeting on Tuesday, April 15, activating a month-long period of consultation before any final decisions are taken. The consultation includes three drop-in sessions, all from 3pm-6pm. Dates and venues are:
Tuesday, April 22 at Redcar Community College
Wednesday, April 23 at Eston City Learning Centre
Thursday, April 24 at Laurence Jackson School, Guisborough.
There will be a variety of ways to give your views as well as more consultation sessions. A leaflet is being distributed to all parents via pupil mail which will contain a tear off response and people can respond by email.