Cabinet backs changes for Ilminster and Crewkerne

At a very over attended Microsoft Teams meeting this morning (17 March) the inevitable was confirmed. Ilminster and Crewkerne will have a new schools system. the old three tier model of first school, middle school and upper school will be abolished.

From September 2022, the area’s current three-tier school system will become a two-tier system with major changes including:

  • Wadham School to become a secondary school.
  • Maiden Beech, Ashlands, St Bartholomew’s, Merriott and Haselbury Plucknett to become primary schools.
  • Swanmead and Greenfylde to amalgamate and become a primary school.
  • Closure of Misterton School.

In the face of widespread opposition from parents, teachers and students, Somerset County Council pushed ahead. Councillor Faye Purbrick, Cabinet Member for Education and Transformation at Somerset County Council, said: “Today marks a significant milestone for the future of education in Crewkerne and Ilminster. I think it’s fair to say that it has been a long and sometimes difficult journey to reach this point after ten years of reviewing, engaging and consulting on a number of proposals. Now, after today’s final decision, we can move forward to ensure a smooth transition to a two-tier system from September 2022.

However taxpayers will be left wondering what was the point of having a consultation. In this process there have been two. At considerable expense to the public purse. They have been held because the process requires them to be held. However at the Cabinet meeting today, the pointlessness of the exercise was laid bare. The views expressed in the consultation have been completely ignored.

And there are some interesting questions to answer about the organisation that conducted one of the consultations. we will be exploring that further in the next Leveller®

One comment

  • The anomaly of Somerset having more than one system for Schools has been something that there has been a reluctance to address over a number of years. If there is a structural change then it would be logical for this to be rolled out over the whole county?

    The issue is complicated by a number of factors.
    1. The 6th form at Wadham has always been a challenge to promote and the more aggressive marketing by 6th Form and FE Colleges has been a factor. This in turn has a significant knock on effect on the School’s budget and has led to the current deficit.
    2. Despite what some parents feel, other parents have taken a decision to remove their children from the three tier system and send them elsewhere
    3. The Schools in the area used to have a reasonable degree of communication and thus be able to have some cohesion in their policies, the introduction of Academisation introduced more of an element of every man for themselves.
    4. It is interesting that there is a campaign to maintain the status quo as in the past at Wadham it was always hard to engage with the School. There would be a reasonable attendance at parents evening, but AGM, etc was disappointing.
    5. There was a proposed housing development on the edge of Crewkerne which was to include a new First School, to be a replacement for Ashlands First School. This does not appear in the current plans.
    6. The logic of closing a School when there are a number of proposed housing developments seems short sighted as inevitably the demand for places will logically increase.

    SCC has spent thousands on employing consultants to look at education and does not appear to be following the recommendations. It also seems to make no logical sense to make Maiden Beech and Swanmead Junior Schools along with the other First Schools? Why not make it a Junior School and the First Schools Infant Schools? This would have less effect on staffing and the equipment and furniture Schools require.

    The bottom line is that the Budgetary deficit issue needs to be addressed in some way.

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