Dear Parents / Carers
At the meetings that we held earlier this term a number of issues were raised by parents regarding the future of the three schools. We have raised those points with the Education Authority and they have provided us with the following information.
The council aim to prepare a Consultation Document over the summer, so that the statutory consultation can take place during September and October 2015. Following this, the Consultation Report, and a recommendation to proceed to Statutory Notice would be considered by Council in December 2015. Subject to Council approval, the Education Department would publish the Statutory Notice in January 2016 and this would be followed by a 28 day objection period. Any objections to the proposal would then be considered by Council in May, prior to making a determination to proceed with the proposal.
The Education Department have identified the potential availability and feasibility of specific sites. Property Services will need to explore various options during the next couple of months to establish availability but that is likely to take place within the specific areas mentioned in the report. The regulations specify that we must identify our proposed site as part of the Consultation Document; however this does not preclude anyone from making comments about it or making suggestions for consideration of alternative sites as part of their consultation responses.
21st Century Schools - Business Case
Should Council decided to proceed with the establishment of a new school, the council will need to prepare a business case in order to obtain capital funding. This will need to be undertaken in parallel with the statutory process for school organisation.
Transport / Environmental impact
As part of the Consultation Document, the Education Department will need to include Community/ Equalities / Transport impact assessments. In relation to transportation from isolated locations a shuttle bus could be considered as part of the proposed transport arrangements, but there cannot be any guarantees at this stage.
If this is a concern for parents then they can raise this as part of the consultation.
School Size / Ethos
It is inevitable that a new school will attract parents who would otherwise choose to send their children to their local school. This already happens at Stackpole where more than half the school population attend from out of catchment, including Pembroke and Pembroke Dock areas. A new school is likely to have a maximum capacity of around 150 pupils. This is still a small school and will continue to have a rural / community ethos currently provided by the current schools.
Falling Pupil Numbers
A detailed account of pupil numbers will be included as part of the Consultation Document and this will take account of current and predicted numbers during the next 4-5 years. The Education Department is are that two of the three schools are facing budget pressures.
The Education Department would make an assumption that all pupils currently attending the three schools would transfer to the new school, and that current applications for places would be honoured at the new school.
For new admissions, all parents need to submit an application for places. It should not be assumed that a place would automatically be granted just because a child lives within the catchment area of the new school. The Admissions Officer has a responsibility to accede the parental preference up until the point where the Admission Number of the school is reached, and so if applications for the places have only been received from out go catchment parents, then they could be offered places at the expense of catchment pupils.
The proposal approved by Council is to close the three schools and establish a new school.
The Education Department would consider this as part of the consultation. All childcare and nursery providers in the area are statutory consulates and they would be encouraged to respond to the consultation.
The Education Department would consider whether the new school building would be able to accommodate a playgroup.
I would recommend to all parents / carers, and all others that have the opportunity, to use the consultation raise any issue that they have concerns about.
I believe that the council is planning public meetings for the September 2015 and that flyers about the meeting will be sent out in September.
This letter has been sent to all parents/ carers of the three schools.