Peel Common Infant School: Gosport school to close and be merged to create a new primary school

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A Gosport school will be shut for good at the end of the year over low pupil numbers and financial problems.

Hampshire County Council made the “difficult” decision to close Peel Common Infant School and Nursery Unit in Gosport because of its low pupil numbers and the financial position of both schools. It will now be merged with the neighbouring Peel Common Junior school – creating a new primary school for the area.

The lead member for children’s services, Councillor Edward Heron, said during his decision day (May 14) that this kind of decision “is not easy to make” since people have “a strong attachment to school”, but the county council has to make sure it offers a “sustainable provision for children in the area”.

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As of March 31, Peel Common Infant School had a deficit of £110,883, while Peel Common Junior had a balance of £42,123.

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

Cllr Heron said: “I have received a lot of correspondence over time, and I have carefully read a lot of the representations. It is never easy to make these decisions. People have a strong attachment to schools. I understand that these decisions aren’t quite popular. But I think the key part of this one is the importance of making sure we have a sustainable education provision for the children in the area.

“I’m conscious of the figures in the finance section particularly […] This is a difficult decision for me but a fairly clear one.”

As part of the closure, the age range of the Peel Common Junior School will be extended to create an all-through school and nursery starting in January 2025 which would accommodate children from the age of three to 11 and have one class of 30 pupils per year. 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.

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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 fully funded by the children’s services capital programme.

To address concerns raised at the public consultation about the future of the infant school and the nursery site in The Drive, Cllr Heron said that it is not for him to consider that since it is not part of the decision.

Cllr Heron said: “I have received communication about the aftermath of the school after this decision, but it is not for me to consider it at this stage at all. I’m sure there’ll be discussions on that, but that’s not something for me or part of this decision.”