City schools will not merge under new council ruling

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THREE primary schools in will not merge after overwhelming public opposition to the plan.

Portsmouth City Council first mooted the amalgamation proposals for Meon Infants, Meon Juniors and Moorings Way schools last autumn.

It was triggered because, at that time, Moorings Way had been without a headteacher for a year. Education policy states that amalgamation, or hard federation – whereby schools remain separate but share a governing body – should be considered under such circumstances and if they are nearby.

None of the schools have issues with achievement.

Both Moorings Way Infants, and Meon Junior, both in Milton, are without headteachers.

But a consultation carried out by the council found 80 per cent of people surveyed were against the plans.

And at yesterday’s children and education decision meeting education cabinet member Neill Young agreed to officers’ recommendations that the schools be kept as they are. But if one of the schools does not manage to recruit a headteacher then discussions will be reopened.

Colin Hamilton is chairman of governors at Milton Junior.

He said: ‘We were told to put our recruitment process on hold because of this.

‘It’s taken all this time to come up with a simple conclusion.

‘It is an excellent school with a great ethos and we have an excellent interim head.

‘It was a pointless exercise. But the problem is that if one of the schools doesn’t recruit we have to go back to this situation.’

The meeting heard there is a city-wide problem with recruiting headteachers.

Part of the problem with recruitment at Moorings Way has been the uncertainty over its future.

Debbie Van den Broek, the school’s chairman of governors, said parents and staff could see benefits from a merger but the outcome of the meeting was as expected.

Councillor Lynne Stagg represents Baffins ward.

She said that if the controversial development of the land around St James Hospital – where more than 500 homes could be built – all three schools would be needed in future anyway so an amalgamation now would be a waste of money.

She added: ‘Separate site amalgamations do not work.’