Parents hit by Northamptonshire school closure say children’s education is more than ‘game of school Tetris’
and live on Freeview channel 276
Families hit by a Northamptonshire school closure say their children’s education is more than a “game of school Tetris”.
Parents and guardians of pupils at Southfield Primary Academy in Brackley found out earlier this month that the school was set to close – after trustees claimed it was no longer “viable” due to a shortfall in the take-up of places.
A petition to save the school has attracted more than 1,300 signatures, with parents lobbying MPs, the Department of Education (DfE), councillors, and trustees of the school.
Sophie O’Doherty, a parent at Southfield School, said: “The lack of transparency with respect to the decision making process used to push for the closure of Southfield is shocking. The fact that those involved in the process didn’t think it was important to share the rationale in a solid business case, shows a real disregard for the children they are meant to be advocating for.
“The education of the children who currently attend Southfield is more than a game of school Tetris.”
There are also concerns from parents that no attention has been paid to the impact of the closure on children with special educational needs and disabilities. The campaign group say that parents have requested but not been shown an Equality Impact Assessment.
Kim Haynes, who has a child at the school, said: “I’m concerned about the welfare of SEN children and hope they will not get lost in the system given that the county is already extremely short of SEND provision and services. An ideal solution may be to combine a smaller school and SEN provision for the area.”
Dame Andrea Leadsom, the MP for South Northamptonshire has written to the Secretary of State for Education, stressing her constituents’ concerns over the evidence and transparency behind the closure, as well as the impact that closure will have on the provision of school places in the town.
Brackley is a growing town and has approximately 12,000 new homes in planning for the near future. Despite this, MP Andrea Leadsom said in her letter that “a medium to long-term projection of pupil numbers has not been provided or considered” in line with the closure.
She said that she was “profoundly moved” by the “heartfelt testimonials” of parents, carers, and staff who would be directly affected by the school’s closure.
A spokesperson for the parents’ group campaigning against the Southfield closure said: “Overall we are relieved and pleased that our concerns are being taken seriously by our MP and have been passed on. The concern now is that the secretary of state takes it seriously.”
Councillor Fiona Baker, cabinet member for children and education at WNC, said at the extraordinary Brackley Town Council meeting that they have looked at ways to “save the school”, including increasing the SEND department, but that none had been taken up.
Speaking at that meeting, the chair of trustees for Southfield, Christopher Watt said: “The bottom line is since January 2022 the DfE has put in an immense amount of additional funding just to keep the school open. In an ideal world, we would redevelop the site, but actually, it’s financially unviable.”