Councillors’ concerns over Sidmouth schools ‘merger’

PUBLISHED: 14:30 15 February 2011

CIVIC leaders have urged education bosses to ensure “no child suffers” if controversial plans to merge three Sidmouth schools into one become a reality.

CIVIC leaders have urged education bosses to ensure “no child suffers” if controversial plans to merge three Sidmouth schools into one become a reality.

Parents have a last chance to comment on proposals to amalgamate St Nicholas Junior, All Saints Infants and Sidmouth Infants schools before a public consultation ends next Friday, February 18.

Some Sidmouth town councillors felt the consultation seemed “rushed” when they discussed the matter on Monday.

“Proper thought, time and money needs to be put in so the children, whose education it is vital to during the transition, don’t suffer as a result of them being in that place of change,” said Councillor Dr Dilly Fung.

“I think we should step back a bit. We need longer to think about it,” said Cllr Christine Drew.

“It’s too important to rush through in such a short time,” added Cllr Mary Jolly. “Is this being done on cost alone, or for the welfare of children?” she asked.

Proposed changes would become a reality in September. School governing bodies came up with plans.

Cllr Jeffrey Turner defended the consultation length and said schools’ timescales were “dictated” by when changes needed to be made.

“There are benefits and I welcome them,” said Cllr Stuart Hughes.

“It’s better to have one splendid school than three struggling to survive,” added Cllr Ann Liverton.

It was agreed a letter from the council would be sent to education authority Devon County Council (DCC) saying “Sidmouth wants the best possible education for its children” and urging “no child suffers” during any changes.

Councillors were invited to submit their personal opinions as individuals to DCC.

A decision will be made between DCC and school governing bodies on whether to proceed after February 18.

If the bid is progressed, another six-week public consultation exercise will take place and a final decision made in May.


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