Sidmouth schools merger- talking heads

Amalgamation hailed ‘a key decision in moving forward primary education’ in the town.

HEADTEACHERS at three Sidmouth schools, set to be merged into one, have hailed ‘a key decision in moving forward primary education’ in the town.

Leaders at St Nicholas Junior, All Saints Infants and Sidmouth Infants schools this week reassured hundreds of families: “We have children at heart.

The newly named Sidmouth Church of England Primary School will open its doors to up to 600 pupils on September 1.

While the move will technically see All Saints and Sidmouth Infants schools ‘close’- and St Nick’s ‘enlarge’ under a different name- the new institution will operate from all three existing sites.

Heads Paul Walker, Viv Craig and Hilary Williams told the Herald: “We were hoping for this- we proposed it.

“We’ll have one single primary school for the children of Sidmouth- catering for them all in one consistent manner.”

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Mr Walker, headteacher at St Nick’s, will remain in the role. Mrs Craig will retire at the end of this school year, while Mrs Williams said her future is now uncertain.

The heads revealed a new, navy, uniform will be ‘phased in’ and children and parents were being consulted.

Youngsters have been challenged to come up with a logo for their new school. No staff will lose their jobs as a result of the amalgamation.

“This outcome is for our children,” said Mr Walker. “One primary school for the whole of the Sidmouth community, in which everyone has an investment, with one common, single approach to the curriculum and the way we work with children.”

He said ‘positive’ meetings had been held with staff over the new school’s ‘collective vision’ and how to share resources and expertise.

“We fundamentally agree on some things- we have children at heart,” said Mr Walker.

“They get one chance at school and we want to make it the best we can for them all the way through.

“We don’t want to make things worse for children or parents. There is no way we would ever shoe-horn all the children on this site (St Nick’s). Three sites are a necessity.

“There are too many people involved in this to allow the wrong decisions to happen.”

“We want to look forward. There will have been some people not in favour of proposals. We hope to address their concerns. We want to work with people. We want views and comments.”