A review of the school structure in and around Ilminster and Crewkerne is underway to ensure it can continue to deliver a good-quality of education for pupils in the long-term
The falling number of secondary school-aged children in the immediate area, and national funding arrangements, mean that the current system is not financially sustainable – with potential knock-on effects for the quality of education that the schools are able to provide in the future.
The review has been commissioned by Somerset County Council which has been in discussion with local schools about the need to look at different ways forward. The review is underway and is considering the pros and cons of alternative structures, taking into account factors including the educational impacts and outcomes at each key stage, the impact on pupils with Special Educational Needs, early years provision (pre-school and nursery), staffing implications, transport costs, impact on communities and available funding to make changes.
The County Council and Regional Schools Commissioner (RSC), in consultation with headteachers and governors, will decide which options should go forward for formal public consultation. It is expected that formal consultation on the feasible options will start in September 2019.
All viable options will go out to consultation with schools, children, parents, and local communities.
The area currently has a three-tier school structure, consisting of:
- Wadham Community School
- Maiden Beech Academy and Swanmead – both middle schools
- St Mary and St Peter’s and Shepton Beauchamp, Greenfylde First School, Hinton St George First School, Merriott First School, Ashlands First School, St Bartholomew’s First School, Misterton First School, Hazelbury Plucknett
A spokesperson for Somerset County Council said: “This isn’t about how well the system is working now, it’s about making sure it can continue to work for our young people in the long-run – the pressures are such that staying the same simply isn’t an option.
“We recognise there will be a period of uncertainty for children and families until a decision is made, but it is important that the review is as thorough as it can be, and that proper process is followed.
“No changes can be made without going through a legal process, which involves consultation with parents and carers, staff, children and anyone else who may have an interest. Once a decision has been made we will work closely with head teachers and governors to ensure that any change is well-managed”.
The Local Authority has a legal duty to make sure there are enough, good quality school places and this review, which is backed by the Regional Schools Commissioner, aims to help us achieve that in this area.