Advertising

Councillor criticises plan to axe schools

South Shropshire | News | Published:

A Shropshire councillor has refuted Shirehall's case for closing small schools - describing proposed savings as "speculative". A Shropshire councillor has refuted Shirehall's case for closing small schools - describing proposed savings as "speculative". Peter Phillips, who represents Bishop's Castle, said there was no new evidence to justify closing rural schools such as Lydbury North Primary in his ward. He claimed Shropshire Council's plans to close eight primary schools and the Wakeman secondary in Shrewsbury were motivated by money, and that pupil numbers are expected to rise from 2012 on. He also questioned the idea of closing Onny Primary School in Onibury, near Craven Arms, which has been deemed to be satisfactory and offering places at nearby Stokesay Primary which has been served with a notice to improve. Read more in the Shropshire Star.

A Shropshire councillor has refuted Shirehall's case for closing small schools - describing proposed savings as "speculative".

Peter Phillips, who represents Bishop's Castle, said there was no new evidence to justify closing rural schools such as Lydbury North Primary in his ward.

He claimed Shropshire Council's plans to close eight primary schools and the Wakeman secondary in Shrewsbury were motivated by money, and that pupil numbers are expected to rise from 2012 on.

He also questioned the idea of closing Onny Primary School in Onibury, near Craven Arms, which has been deemed to be satisfactory and offering places at nearby Stokesay Primary which has been served with a notice to improve.

Councillor Phillips's comments come just days before the start of a six-week consultation period on Monday.

Other plans include creating a through school at Rhyn Park in St Martins, combining Shawbury's two primary schools into a single institution and making federation arrangements between a number of schools which will see them sharing resources.

Councillor Phillips said: "Lydbury North famously fought and argued for the 12 months of 2008. No argument for closure could possibly have been overlooked, nor has any new evidence accrued in the subsequent years.

"Shropshire's primary numbers bottom out this year and will then gently rise. It is difficult to understand why the myth of falling primary numbers has persisted — it is untrue.

Advertising

"The savings are purely and demonstrably speculative. They remain unknown until a school has actually been closed, and there is a wealth of evidence to demonstrate that 'collateral damage' generates much additional cost not only to the council but to other public bodies and the community."

Councillor Aggie Caesar-Homden, Shropshire Council cabinet member for children and young people's services, said: "The report of the Independent Policy Commission chaired by Neil Kinghan made it clear that staying as we are is not an option.

"We cannot ignore the issues facing our schools of which funding is one — Government funding has reduced by £10 million in the last five years, whilst continuing to support largely the same establishment of schools.

"As a result of falling pupil numbers we are facing a continuous and growing funding gap each year — impacting on every child in every Shropshire school. But this is not just about saving money — it is about finding solutions for the long term that can provide excellent education for years to come.

Advertising

"Consultation on an unprecedented scale has taken place to develop a proposed vision and primary and secondary school criteria, with further extensive consultation with schools and their communities to review this and come up with solutions that suit each local area.

"Recognising the importance of providing long term solutions that will provide education we can be proud of as we move forward, this has been a cross party initiative, with Liberal

Democrat Councillor Roger Evans and Labour Councillor Jean Jones sitting on the cross-party group.

"I want to stress that no decisions have been made. We want to listen to people's views about the proposals set out in the report to the council's cabinet earlier this month. A six-week consultation is starting on Monday and we are keen to hear some alternative and viable long term solutions to the issues that we are facing."

Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.

Advertising

Top stories

Advertising

More from Shropshire Star

UK & International News