Schools merger plan to go before education chief

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TWO schools could join together in proposals set to be considered by Portsmouth City Council.

City education chiefs will rule on combining Charles Dickens Infant and Junior schools from April 2013 to form a new community primary school.

The plan has received support from all three main political parties in Portsmouth and is set to go before the city council’s cabinet member for children and education on June 14.

It would mean the two schools, which are currently based in separate buildings but on the same site in Landport, would join together.

Chairman of the school’s governors, Trefor Jones, said: ‘My personal view is that it’s the right way to go for these two schools.

‘It doesn’t make sense to have two schools, with two completely different cultures, on the same site. This is the right way to go for the children.’

The proposals are being recommended by Julian Wooster, director of children’s services at the council.

He said: ‘We agree with the view of the governing bodies of both schools that by joining together the education and wellbeing of the children can improve both now and for the future.

‘There are many benefits to this proposal including children finding it easier not to have to change schools at the end of year two and better continuity for the children in what and how they are taught and assessed.’

The new school would provide 420 places for four to 11-year-olds, which is the same size as the combined infant and junior schools.

All pupils attending the two existing schools would automatically be offered a place at the new primary school.

Tory opposition spokeswoman Donna Jones said: ‘This is exactly what has needed to happen for a long time – I’m really hoping in the future to see vast improvements at the school.’

Ken Ferrett, Labour spokesman for education, said he did have concerns that staff numbers could drop as a result of the merger.

‘Anything that increases outcomes is definitely to be welcomed,’ he said.

‘I just hope it doesn’t lead to redundancies that have a negative affect on the children.’

If agreed, the proposals will be published and a six week formal consultation would begin this July.

Cllr Rob Wood, Lib Dem cabinet member for children and education, said: ‘We are determined to rapidly improve the standard of education in our schools and make long-term improvements to help all pupils reach their potential.’