The Federation of the Church Schools of Shalfleet and Yarmouth have made their submission to the Isle of Wight council’s consultation on school places in the West Wight (see below).
The Isle of Wight council say there are too many primary school places in the West Wight and their preferred option moving forward is to close All Saints’ Primary school, move the pupils to Yarmouth School, then relocate pupils from Yarmouth School to All Saints’ once expansion works have been completed.
Town council’s views
At their recent meeting, the Yarmouth Town Council discussed the IWC’s preferred option and concluded:
“Yarmouth School is one of the best-performing schools on the Island, well above the national average and has a proven record. There is no educational argument for relocating it, and certainly no logical argument for combining it with a school which has consistently under-performed in recent years. It is likely that the staffing mix and organisation in such circumstances would dilute the high standards which now exist at Yarmouth School. It should be borne in mind that the current high level of pupil numbers at Yarmouth and Shalfleet has come about because of the failure of All Saints to address its internal problems.”
They believe the proposed reorganisation “is being promulgated too soon” and argue that experience from the previous reorganisation involving Weston Academy has shown that a delay of three years is likely to result in “more places being available at St Saviour’s, and there is already surplus capacity at Brighstone”.
Yarmouth more vulnerable to losing facilities
The Town Council go on to say,
“Yarmouth School is a vital element of the local community in which it is closely integrated. Yarmouth with an electorate of only 800 is more vulnerable to losing facilities than Freshwater which has a population of nearly 5,000, and with far more community facilities.
“Experience in other small communities has shown that closure of the local school can have a devastating effect on that community in the form of facilities, age demographics and educational standards in the area.”
The Town council added,
“The expansion of Yarmouth School prior to moving it to Freshwater is likely to be not only logistically difficult but highly disruptive. Yarmouth School’s capacity is 105 and does not have the infrastructure to expand beyond that. Moreover, resources involved in managing Yarmouth and Shalfleet Schools could well be stretched.
“Moving pupils from one school to another disrupts their education not only immediately but throughout their school life. There is also a significant adverse impact on staff transport. The IWC’s record on schools reorganisation is not good.”
A ‘blind’ recommendation
The Town Council argue this is a ‘blind’ recommendation, they say,
“There are no plans, resources or budget identified for rebuilding All Saints, and no consideration has been given to an action plan for carrying out this proposal – it is effectively a ‘blind’ recommendation.
“The original recommendation from IWC was to close All Saints’ CE Primary School and expand St Saviour’s Catholic Primary School to 1 form of entry, and this option, which was originally well-supported by Freshwater parents, has only been abandoned because of significant public pressure from Freshwater councillors and residents, not for educational reasons.”
Initial recommendation ‘more sound’
The Town Council go on to say,
“Moreover, this recommendation was logistically more sound as it involved less geographical disruption and a greater reduction in surplus places, especially when combined with a reduction in the PAN (Published Admission Number) for Brighstone School. In fact, the IWC’s proposal can be shown to be the least efficient of all the options available.
“The situation of Yarmouth School makes drop-off and collection of pupils far safer.”
Covenant on Yarmouth School
At the meeting it was explained that Yarmouth School has a covenant on the premises requiring that it can only be used for educational purposes, the Town Council says have been aroused about the fate of the existing premises.
“The pre-school playgroup in Yarmouth is well-established, popular and highly-rated. This group would be lost in a move to Freshwater where a similar group is already in place
“The closure of small schools in the area and their consolidation in larger sites could lead to ‘supermarket schools’ which would almost certainly involve a dilution of educational standards. St Saviour’s and Brighstone Schools will also be vulnerable in the event of Yarmouth relocating.”
Read in full the response from the Yarmouth and Shalfeet Federation submitted as part of the consultation.