Three Shropshire primary school to merge after numbers fall
Three Shropshire schools look set to merge Hope CE Primary School, Worthen CE Primary School and St Mary's CE Primary School in Westbury, near Shrewsbury, will be amalgamated for the forthcoming academic year.
The move will mean the closure of Hope and Westbury, with pupils transferring to Worthen. The amalgamation follows a consultation, which took place earlier this year.
Members of Shropshire Council's cabinet are set to agree to proceed with the closure proposals with a target date of September 1, 2017.
The site at Worthen will be expanded to cope with the increase in pupil numbers.
A report to cabinet by Karen Bradshaw, director of children's services, said that the three schools had faced substantial challenges in recent years including the recruitment and retention of headteachers for each school and other teaching staff.
Ofsted inspections had not been good for two of the schools and there were falling pupil numbers which led to associated pressures on schools' budgets.
In her report she said: "The three schools have collectively lost 29 pupils between January 2016 and the annual school census in October 2016, down from 114 to 85. The fall in pupil numbers is in part due to the cohort sizes in the individual schools being so small, with parents citing this as their main reason for removing children."
From the start of the autumn term in September, children from all three schools of school age have been taught on the Worthen site, with only the nursery children remaining. This has had a number of advantages with pupils being able to learn and socialise in bigger groups of children of their own age.
Mrs Bradshaw added: "Children were no longer taught in whole key stage classes, but in classes spanning no more than two year groups. Staff had had the opportunity to plan and collaborate together, offering more opportunities for continuing professional development. The division of roles and responsibilities across a larger team of staff has created more capacity for teachers to ensure quality first education."
The closure of the two schools will have a knock-on effect on early years provision. It is envisaged that a pre-school will operate at Worthen Primary School.
Concerns have been raised regarding increased traffic to the school once the amalgamation goes ahead but children from the other two schools are currently bussed in and it is anticipated that this will continue.
The report to cabinet members concluded: "The proposal has been prompted and initiated by the community through the governing body of the federation. It is fully supported by education officers of both Shropshire Council and the Diocese of Hereford."