20/07/2011 - Permalink

Decisions follow extensive consultation on education

Related topics: Uncategorized

After working with schools and their communities to look at the future of education in Shropshire for more than a year, the council’s Cabinet today (Wednesday 20 July 2011) decided whether to proceed with proposed changes to the organisation of schools in the county.

Cabinet considered representations made during recent statutory consultations, which ran from 16 May to 24 June, and made the final decision to close four primary schools and extend the age range of one infant school.

Councillors agreed not to proceed with proposals to close three schools which have brought forward alternative proposals. They also approved moving to the next stage of consultation on proposals to close another primary school and extend the age range of the village secondary school.

Today’s Cabinet meeting follows consultation which has taken place on an unprecedented scale to look at changes to education in Shropshire. This began with the development of a new education vision and school organisation policy as recommended by an Independent Policy Commission, chaired by Neil Kinghan.

Cabinet today agreed, in line with the recommendations, to proceed to close Barrow, Hopton Wafers and Maesbury primary schools and extend the age range of Buntingsdale Infant School.

It was also agreed to close Shawbury Primary School, to create a single primary school for the village, with further work taking place with Shawbury primary and St Mary’s primary to decide on the site of the consolidated school.

Cabinet decided not to close Stiperstones Primary School, as proposed at an earlier stage, but to give the school the opportunity to progress a proposal to federate with Chirbury Primary School.

As part of the consideration of proposals deferred at a meeting on 4 May, councillors approved a recommendation to move to statutory consultation on proposals to close Ifton Heath Primary School and extend the age range of Rhyn Park School and Performing Arts College to include the primary age range. This had been deferred for further discussion and work to be carried out, including looking at the details of how an all-through school would work.

On 4 May, Cabinet also deferred decisions to proceed to statutory consultation on proposals to close Onny and Lydbury North primary schools so that they could put together a business case for federation. Today Cabinet agreed not to proceed to statutory consultation but to give them the opportunity to progress their proposal for federation.

Councillor Aggie Caesar-Homden, Cabinet member for schools, said:

“We appreciate that this is a difficult time for everyone affected by the decision to close a school.

“These decisions have not been taken lightly, however they have been made in the best interests of all pupils in Shropshire.

“We have worked alongside schools and their communities for more than a year to look at the challenges facing our schools and ways to address these – and we have only taken the decision to close schools where all other options have been exhausted.

“We will continue to work closely with these schools, parents, pupils and their wider communities over the next twelve months to support them in ensuring there is as little disruption as possible.

“I would also like to thank those not directly affected for the support they have provided, and continue to offer, to schools which are part of this process.”

Councillor Caesar-Homden added that she would like to acknowledge the efforts of Onny, Lydbury North and Stiperstones schools which had worked hard to come forward with business plans for federation.

“From the beginning, schools and their communities have been invited to bring forward their own solutions and this is what they have done. We will continue to monitor the progression of these plans and provide assistance where needed,” she said.

The public notice relating to Wakeman School and Arts College in Shrewsbury has been re-published, initiating another six-week statutory consultation period, which takes place until 12 August 2011. During this time people are invited to submit representations in favour of, or opposing the proposal to close this school. The results of statutory consultation and the decision on whether to proceed with this proposal will go to a Cabinet meeting on 7 September 2011.

Barrow, Hopton Wafers, Maesbury and Shawbury primary schools will close in August 2012.

For further information and Cabinet reports please visit the website shropshire.gov.uk/educationforshropshire