‘Shock’ Sidmouth school merger plans

PUBLISHED: 15:00 17 January 2011

Sidmouth's St Nicholas School with the signs from Sidmouth Infants and All Saints inset. Ref shs 0134-02-11SH

Sidmouth's St Nicholas School with the signs from Sidmouth Infants and All Saints inset. Ref shs 0134-02-11SH

Archant

HUNDREDS of families have been hit with “shock” plans to merge three Sidmouth schools into one.

HUNDREDS of families have been told of “shock” plans to merge three Sidmouth schools into one.

Headteachers at St Nicholas Junior, All Saints Infants, and Sidmouth Infants schools insist proposals - revealed on Wednesday - will safeguard youngsters’ education in the town for years to come as budget cuts begin to bite.

Plans to form a single primary school for 600 students would see all three sites remain in operation. Changes would become a reality at the beginning of the next school year on September 1.

All Saints and Simouth Infants will technically ‘close’ and St Nick’s will expand in to an ‘all-through’ school for four to 11-year-olds if plans go ahead.

One concerned mum told the Herald after learning the news this week: “There’s uproar over this.”

However, headteachers Paul Walker, Viv Craig and Hilary Williams have warned: “If this doesn’t happen, in three years, we won’t have three schools- whatever.

“Our driving force is that children in our community receive the best possible education.

“We’ve got massive uncertainties with budgets. If we don’t change now, we’ll have to in the future.”

A predicted drop in pupil numbers has left all three heads fearing for their schools.

“Unfortunately, money comes from bums on seats and the less children we have, the less money we’re attracting into the school budget,” said St Nick’s head Mr Walker.

He added the proposed amalgamation itself will not lead to any additional staff redundancies.

“We are asking the question and seeking views. It’s definitely not a decision that’s been taken yet,” said Mr Walker.

A public consultation launched by the schools this week will run until February 18. An information session for parents at Kennaway House is planned for February 1.

Devon County Council Cabinet Committee members will decide the fate of plans, which were drawn up by school governing bodies, in May.

“The emotional response this morning in the playground was unhappiness,” mum-of-three Sara Hadfield told the Herald yesterday. She has a child at All Saints. “It’s a really great school and I’m worried it will change,” she added.

“Shocked” mum-of-four Lisa Craig would have liked to have been given more detailed information.


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