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Public opinion needed on plans for shake-up of city schools
3:10pm Thursday 14th March 2013 in News
PARENTS, staff and community members are being asked for their views on plans to merge eight Southampton schools.
Council bosses have put forward plans to close four city infant and junior schools by having them formally taken over by neighbouring schools, creating new primaries offering education for youngsters from the age of four through to 11.
A consultation has been launched on the proposals, which if approved, could see the schools altered by the start of the new academic year in September.
A series of special drop-in information sessions for parents at the affected schools – Bitterne Park Infant and Junior, Oakwood Infant and Junior, Tanners Brook Infant and Junior, and Valentine Infant and Heathfield Junior – starts at the end of March.
The moves are separate from the £3m plans to create more classroom places, with existing proposals to add spaces at Bassett Green, Bevois Town and St John’s being considered on top of the work already underway to make 3,000 new spots at 20 city schools.
Southampton’s education leaders say creating primary schools will help benefit children, removing the difficulties and uncertainties for parents and youngsters of switching between infant and junior schools.
And they hope the moves would also lead to increased standards in the newly-created primaries, allowing better-performing schools to take over the running of those with worse grades from Ofsted inspectors.
Under the plans, Bitterne Park Infant, which does not currently have a permanent head teacher, would shut and the neighbouring junior school have its age range extended.
The same thing would happen at Oakwood Infant and Junior schools, in Lordshill, because the infant school head, Barbara Knight, is due to retire at the end of the academic year.
The head of Tanners Brook Junior in Millbrook, Zofia Karol, is also due to leave in July, so the proposal is to expand the age range of the neighbouring infant school.
In Sholing, the joint governing body of Valentine Infant and Heathfield Junior schools wants to create an all-through primary to end differences in standards between the two.
Heathfield, which has been graded as either satisfactory or inadequate in its last three inspections, would be closed and Valentine, which has been rated as good or outstanding by Ofsted inspectors, would be extended.
The first phase of the consultation runs until March 27, with a final decision due to be made in July.
l See Education on page 25