Councillor ‘disappointed and saddened’ to hear of closure of ‘financially unviable’ Northamptonshire school
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Following the announcement that a Northamptonshire school has made the “incredibly difficult decision” to close after being deemed “financially unviable”, West Northamptonshire Council has issued an update.
This comes as there is a “significant shortfall in the take-up of places”, says the council – with 109 children on roll out of a possible 420.
Councillor Fiona Baker, WNC cabinet member for children, families, education and skills, said: “I am disappointed and saddened to hear about the Academy and DfE’s decision to close the school in summer next year and fully understand how distressing this news will be to children and their parents.
“I would like to reassure them all that our council will be doing everything possible to support them through this, by providing alternative school places still within the Brackley area, to maintain continuity and a smooth transition for youngsters for next year.
“We know Southfield has faced challenges in recent years but the school has worked hard to make improvements. We have also looked at how to help the school resolve its under-capacity, such as exploring other ways to use the space for alternative educational purposes, although unfortunately these did not prove viable in the end.
“Sadly the number of parents choosing to send their children there continues to be low and, at just under a quarter full, we understand why the trustees and DfE feel it is no longer financially viable to stay open from next summer.”
Cllr Baker recognised that the recent announcement around Southfield has also brought a wider debate around school places in Brackley to the forefront, as updates have been shared within the community on social media.
She added: “We are aware that some people have expressed concerns that the closure of Southfield, coupled with planned housing growth, will lead to pressures on places at nearby schools and have provided this information to the DfE as part of our annual planning forecast.
“There have also been suggestions around controlling the number of pupils admitted to Southfield but this is not something we could legally do nor would wish to, as it is important that parents are given a choice of which school their child attends, and they make this based on what best suits their family’s needs and the performance of schools available to them.”
The council has assured that work is underway to make alternative arrangements for all children affected by the school trustee’s decision to close next year.
This includes taking immediate steps to support the families of the pupils affected and provide assurance that they will all have access to an alternative school within reasonable distance from Southfield Primary Academy.
The aim is that friendship groups and siblings can remain together where possible, and a letter on place availability will be sent out this week by the WNC admissions team.
The admissions staff will also be on hand this week to meet and support parents and carers at sessions at the school.