for One Community
October 1998 St Joseph's Academy, Kilmarnock, merged
with St Conval's High School, Cumnock, to form a single
secondary school retaining the Academy's name, serving
as the Roman Catholic secondary school for the whole
of East Ayrshire. At the date of merger, there were
176 pupils, 18 teachers and 6 administrative staff in
Cumnock and 666 pupils, 50 teachers and 12 administrative
staff in Kilmarnock. Now we have 770 pupils, 64 (FT)
and 5 (PT) teaching staff and 18 administrative/non-teaching
staff in our single school.
the structure of the new school there were to be S1-S4
pupils on each campus and S5/S6 students only on the
Kilmarnock Campus. As there is a physical distance of
over 16 miles between the two campuses (see picture
1) and many youngsters already travelled distances to
reach secondary school, clearly the newly formed school
faced major hurdles in its aim of creating one community.
issue had been identified early in the merger process
by the Senior Management Team, and as part of the new
management structure for the merged school, a new promoted
post was created. This Principal Teacher of Guidance
(Ethos and Liaison) had a very specific role and responsibility
to promote joint pupil activities; social, curricular
additional Assistant Head Teacher post was created,
this post holder to be responsible for the day-to-day
running of the Cumnock Campus. Over the four and a half
years since the merger, two members of the SMT have
each spent two years in charge of the Cumnock Campus,
the third is now almost one year into his 'reign in
about our pupils and parents
to the merger date, a number of opportunities had been
created for teachers to meet, within their departments
and as a whole staff. In addition, the members of the
Senior Management Team met with parents on the Cumnock
Campus and in the primary schools associated with the
former St Conval's.
the schools had merged a range of extra curricular activities
continued to be offered. Some of these were embraced
enthusiastically by the students. Boys were particularly
keen to travel between campuses at the end of a long
school day to play in one of the many school football
teams. Other ventures were less successful in meeting
the needs of pupils from both campuses, for example,
discos, always a popular item on the school calendar,
showed our young people sticking almost exclusively
to their own territory, Kilmarnock or Cumnock.
became clear that if the transition from S4 to S5, and
in the following year from S5 to S6, was going to have
any chance of successful 'blending', more required to
be done to bridge the gap and build one community.
October 1997, prior to the merger, there had been a
'Dip Inspection' of St Joseph's Academy. As part of
the follow-up visit by HMIE, a request was made to spend
some time on our Cumnock Campus to speak with staff
and students although the Cumnock Campus had not formed
part of the original inspection.
HMIE feedback commented on the lack of confidence some
Cumnock students felt at the prospect of being part
of a much bigger school. Pupils' fears related not only
to the thought of fewer than 200 being 'swamped' by
over 600 but also to having to travel a distance of
over sixteen miles. This would not only move them from
their local environment but, in some cases, from small
rural communities to a larger urban community.
number of issues had also been raised at school council
meetings. Because of small numbers, pupils from the
Cumnock Campus usually travelled to the Kilmarnock Campus
for any whole school/year group activities. This meant
that they formed a minority group which was overwhelming
for some pupils. Cumnock pupils additionally felt that:
were always at a disadvantage as they were not as
familiar with the Kilmarnock Campus
from the Kilmarnock Campus viewed Cumnock pupils
as being from another school as they themselves
were rarely on the Cumnock Campus
wanted to get to know a proportion of their year
group well rather than meet the whole cohort
wanted to act as hosts on their home ground sometimes
being brought together did not always work well.
The discos were popular, but other activities were
regarded as wasted opportunities as pupils did not
really interact. They might have sat together at
a presentation, for example, but that did not necessarily
allow them to develop friendships.
1: Kilmarnock (top) and Cumnock (bottom)
campuses. There is a 32 mile round journey
between the two campuses of the school.
you would like a paper copy of this Vision
and Action Case Study, please contact the
Scottish Schools Ethos Network using the
details to the top left of this page.
the logo above to visit the HM Inspectorate
of Education website.