Somerset County Council voted to proceed with moving from the current three-tier school system to a two-tier model of Primary and Secondary schools, at last Wednesday’s meeting of the Cabinet. Under the proposals, Maiden Beech Academy, St Bartholomew’s First School, Ashlands First School would become primary schools and Misterton First School would close. Merriott First School and Haselbury Plucknett First School would become primary schools. Primary education in Ilminster would be split between two sites at Greenfylde First School and at Swanmead Community School. Wadham School now classed as an upper school, would become the single secondary school for the area.
Councillor Faye Purbrick, Cabinet member for Education and Transformation at SCC said: “It is an absolute priority for SCC to secure high quality education for every pupil in the county. The number of pupils coming into schools in Crewkerne and Ilminster has been reducing for many years and an independent review advised the current arrangement is unsustainable. I welcome the fact that Cabinet has agreed to move the proposals to the next stage. This is one of those moments when democratic engagement is critical and therefore I encourage all of those who wish to give their views to do so. The opinions of the community will be instrumental when Cabinet makes a decision next year.”
The independent review carried out in 2019 by Futures for Somerset showed a high percentage of preference to maintain the three-tier school system in the area. According to the graph shown in records of the review, the options being followed up by SCC were the least popular. Crewkerne Town Council were given a brief report on the Cabinet meeting by Councillor Mike Best, who had both attended and spoken during the debate. Cllr Best advised that he had “serious reservations about some of the reorganisation and I’d like to suggest it’s put on the agenda for the next meeting when I will expand on the details I’ve put forward.” Crewkerne Town Council will discuss the implications of the proposals in depth at their next meeting on November 9th.
A consultation on the proposals is expected to run for four weeks in November, providing an opportunity for those who wish to have their say on the County Council’s plans. Depending on the outcome, it will be followed by publication of notices and a further four week period when members of the public can respond. Cabinet at SCC is expected to make a final decision on the way forward for the school system in the Crewkerne and Ilminster area, in January next year. The latest information, including any links to the online consultation, once it proceeds will be available at https://www.somerset.gov.uk/crewkerne-and-ilminster…/.