School merger will see the launch of new city primary

Tributes left outside Fareham Academy.

Picture: Ian Hargreaves (180012-4)

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A new primary school will officially open in Portsmouth next year in a bid to improve education in one of the poorest wards in the city.

From April next year Charles Dickens Infants and Charles Dickens Junior School will join together.

Charles Dickens Primary School will provide 420 places for children – the same size as the current schools combined.

Trefor Jones, interim executive head of the governing body, said: ‘The most important factor in deciding to join together both schools is that children will benefit.

‘Our aim is to build on improvements the schools have achieved and sustain them.

‘We haven’t rushed this decision, we talked to parents and staff and took on board any comments or concerns.

‘Overall this is a really exciting opportunity for everyone involved, and crucially creates a positive environment for local children.’

City councillor Rob Wood, cabinet member for children’s services, added: ‘Our strategy to improve education in Portsmouth recognises that transitions between schools can be disruptive to a pupil’s learning and should be minimised when possible. I therefore welcome this amalgamation which should help to further raise the standard of learning across the city.’

Since both headteachers from the two schools recently left, the infant school currently has an acting head, and the junior school is led by an interim executive head.

Lisa Florence, acting head for Charles Dickens Junior School, said: ‘It will bring many advantages for the children and families in our community.

‘The joining of the schools will create a smoother transition between key stages which can only be of benefit to the children’s learning and well-being.’

A temporary governing body for the new school will be established shortly with the aim of recruiting a permanent headteacher for the new primary school.

Children currently at either school will automatically enrol to the new school and parents will no longer have to apply for a place to transfer from Key Stage 1 to Key Stage 2.

The schools, which are next to each other, will remain on their current sites.