Isle of Wight councillors have tonight (Thursday) voted to back controversial plans to close a West Wight Primary School – and relocate another.
At a meeting of the local authority’s Cabinet, held in Bembridge as part of its ‘on the road’ campaign, eight councillors voted in favour of proposals.
It means a public notice, to proceed with the closure of Freshwater’s All Saints Primary School, will now be served. The school is due to shut on 31 August 2020, rather than April as first planned.
Proposals would see Freshwater parents given the option of moving their children to Yarmouth CE Primary.
In the meantime, the Governing Body of schools in Shalfleet and Yarmouth will consult on relocating Yarmouth Primary School to a newly-revamped Freshwater site for 2021.
Deputy council leader, Councillor Stuart Hutchinson, abstained from tonight’s vote. He previously opposed plans.
“I opposed the proposals the last time around. That was based largely on the fact that the school governors had opposed the plans. Those views have changed since then.
“We now have the governors supporting the proposals…
“I still have reservations about the impact on the children and the community of Yarmouth.”
Today, All Saints CE Primary jumped from ‘requires improvement’ to ‘good’ in their latest Ofsted report, as previously reported by Isle of Wight Radio.
Councillor Paul Brading, the man in charge of proposals, issued praise, saying: “it is a great credit to the headteacher and the governing body.”
However, he told Isle of Wight Radio that it would not influence his decision – and that something has to be done to tackle surplus school places in the West Wight:
“It doesn’t change the position that we have too many schools in the West Wight to make a sustainable future. All Saints does have an in year deficit that they are unable to address.
“The benefit of moving Yarmouth onto the All Saints site is the financial part of, a shared headteacher, a shared bursar and shared resources.
“It will make all schools viable for the future.”
During tonight’s meeting, concerns were also raised over “vile” comments directed at parents, by other parents, on social media.
Councillor Clare Mosdell suggested that parents from both schools are involved with future discussions, before works on Freshwater’s All Saints site commence.
“I have followed some of the stuff going on on social media with regards to what is happening with parents. What I have read has been quite appalling.
“When you are planning the building of the school [All Saints]… you should have someone from both [Yarmouth and All Saints] parent teachers associations.
“That way this will never be children falling out over the schools.”
A further report will be brought to Cabinet in January 2020.
Councillors will discuss approving the outcome of the public notice period on the closure of All Saints’ – and consider the outcome of the consultation on the relocation of Yarmouth Primary School.