Gosport schools set to be merged as a result of low pupil numbers

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Two Gosport schools are set to merge as a result of low number of students, leading to financial difficulties.

Peel Common Infant School and Nursery Unit is set to close, and the age range of the Peel Common Junior School be extended, to create an all-through school and nursery from January 2025. It comes after Governing bodies from Peel Common Infant School and Peel Common Junior School, in Gosport, contacted Hampshire County Council to “discuss” new alternatives to work, as low pupil numbers raised concerns over both schools’ financial position.

As of March 31 2024, Peel Common Infant had a deficit of £110,883, while Peel Common Junior had a balance of £42,123. Because of that, the council recommended that the best option for the infant school is to join the junior school and provide one all-through school.

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The county council said: “A single primary school would provide a stronger financial position, staffing structure and stable pupil numbers. It would also bring greater continuity in terms of how the curriculum is delivered and a more consistent approach to children’s learning, while removing the need for transition between Year 2 in the infant school to Year 3 in the junior school.”

Peel Common Nursery and Infant School. Source: Google MapsPeel Common Nursery and Infant School. Source: Google Maps
Peel Common Nursery and Infant School. Source: Google Maps

If agreed, the new primary school would accommodate children from the age of three to 11 and have one class of 30 pupils per year. The report said that this would be achieved by relocating an existing purpose-built nursery unit from another maintained school site or by extending the existing junior school building.

Works must also be undertaken in the junior school to make it appropriate for key stage 1 pupils. The works are estimated to cost £750,000 and will be funded in full by the children’s services capital programme. However, parents submitted their views in the last consultation.

Some said that “strong foundations for learning can’t be embedded in one school and built on under one roof”. Another parent said that their child received “an excellent education at the school” and that Peel Common Infants teachers work with “passion and commitment”. The overall feeling is sadness, and some feel that more “should be done to attract people to the school”.

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This parent added: “I’m sad to hear that it’s due to financial burdens and not having enough pupils. I am encouraged that this number will improve with upcoming developments and that younger families are buying in the estates.”

The lead member for children’s services, Councillor Edward Heron, will consider the recommendations at his upcoming decision day on May 14.