An update on the West Wight schools saga is due to be announced next month — and the council remains committed to closing one school.
At last night’s (Thursday) Isle of Wight Council cabinet meeting, cabinet member for children’s services, education and skills, Cllr Paul Brading, said the authority was working to address the issue of surplus primary school places in the area.
As reported, the council had to drop its previous plan — to close Yarmouth Primary School and relocate it to the All Saints’ Primary School site in Freshwater — following a legal challenge.
Cllr Brading said the council was committed to achieving six key aims — including reducing the number of schools in the area from five to four.
The five schools in the area are Yarmouth, All Saints, St Saviour’s in Totland, Shalfleet and Brighstone Primary Schools.
Brading: Inefficient use of limited available resource
Cllr Brading said:
“Having five schools is an inefficient use of limited available resource. Reducing this to four schools would provide greater financial stability for those remaining schools.”
He said the All Saints’ site was still set to become a ‘high quality school in attractive modern buildings,’ providing the council achieves another of its key aims — securing a multi-million pound investment from the Department of Education.
Cllr Brading said it would provide long-term sustainability for primary education at the site.
He said the authority was focused on improving school standards, resulting in high equality outcomes for pupils and creating a foundation for school places in the future.
Speaking after the meeting, he said:
“At the end of the day, this is all about the children.
“Every child deserves to have the best education and the best start in life we can give them.
“The schools in West Wight are suffering, sadly, due to declining birthrate, declining number of children entering the school system. The long-term sustainability of five schools is just not achievable.
“By having fewer schools, and indeed having a new school or rebuilt school, it will not only protect now, but the long-term future, of the whole West Wight schooling system.”
A report on the council’s new plan — with options, timeframes and costs — will be brought before the next cabinet meeting on 10th October. Cabinet members are set to agree on a proposed way forward, which will then go to consultation.
This article is from the BBC’s LDRS (Local Democracy Reporter Service) scheme, which OnTheWight is taking part in. Some alterations and additions may be been made by OnTheWight. Ed
Image: © Megan Baynes