Recommendations designed to secure long-term educational and financial stability for schools in the West Wight will go before the Isle of Wight Council’s Cabinet next week.
The latest West Wight School Place Planning report has been prepared in the wake of a possible legal challenge which halted a previous consultation on surplus school places.
The new report, to be considered by Cabinet on Thursday, 10 October, recommends a public notice be published to close All Saints’ Primary School, Freshwater, from 31 August 2020.
Relocate Yarmouth School to Freshwater
It also recommends officers support the governing body of the Federation of the Church Schools of Shalfleet and Yarmouth on its proposal to consult on the relocation of Yarmouth CE Primary School to the Freshwater site for the start of the 2021 academic year.
This option is also supported by the Portsmouth and Winchester CE diocese.
Brading: Need to close one school
Councillor Paul Brading, Cabinet member for Children’s Services, said the educational needs of children in the West Wight were at the heart of the report.
“In my statement to Cabinet on 12 September, I set out mine and the council’s continuing commitment to finding the very best solution to the educational challenges we face in the West Wight.
“Central to that is the need to reduce the existing five primary schools in the area to four and ensure they are located where the highest density of children is living.
“Since that meeting, officers have been working with the governing body of the Federation of the Church Schools of Shalfleet and Yarmouth and Church of England diocese to see if a position could be reached whereby the governors, diocese and council could find a way forward that would allow Yarmouth CE Primary School to be relocated in the future to the Freshwater site.
“I am very pleased that position has now been reached which allows us to move forward collectively and seek to secure the best educational outcome we can.
“I believe this is a fantastic opportunity to deliver a high-quality, sustainable education platform for the West Wight for many years to come. I hope now we can all work together to achieve this.”
Falling numbers predicted
The council must address the oversupply of school places in the West Wight, with five schools currently catering for around 90 children per year group — a number which is expected to fall over the coming years.
The recommendations set out in the report, and which the council now wishes to take forward, are felt to provide the best opportunity to secure long-term educational and financial stability for West Wight families and schools.
Four schools more sustainable
Given schools are largely funded on a per pupil basis, having one less primary school in West Wight would mean the remaining four are more financially sustainable and will have the resources needed to fund high quality teaching and learning for the children.
The Freshwater site is also due to receive a multi-million-pound investment from the Department for Education to substantially improve/replace the existing buildings.
A further report is due to be brought to Cabinet in January 2020 to approve the outcome of the public notice period on the closure of All Saints’ and consider the outcome of the consultation on the relocation of Yarmouth Primary School.
The above news shared by the Isle of Wight council, in their own words. Ed