Parents fight against changes which could see Somerset school close

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Parents in Somerset have said they will fight major changes to their local schools.

A move from a three-tier school system - with lower, middle and upper schools - to a two-tier system, with just primary and secondary schools, could see one Somerset school closed permanently.

Somerset County Council has said the number of children coming into education in Ilminster and Crewkerne has been reducing for many years, putting the quality of learning at risk.

A consultation on the changes ends tomorrow - and parents say they're willing to launch a legal challenge if it doesn't go their way.

Niki Clarke's son Christopher could be forced to change school Credit: ITV News West Country

If the changes do go ahead Misterton First School would be the only one to close.

That would mean by the time Niki Clarke's son Christopher gets to year four, the school would no longer be running.

"He's sad about friends because he thinks that anything happening he's going to lose friends. It's devastating - we've chosen this school for a reason," Niki said.

She added: "I chose this school because of the community aspect and sending him elsewhere is going to really rock his boat."

The council has defended the plans, saying says big changes in education are needed in the county. The authority insists the current school system - with first, middle and upper schools - needs to switch to a two-tier primary and secondary one.

The affected schools

The proposed changes would affect schools in around Ilminster and Crewkerne.

  • Swanmead and Greenfylde in Ilminster would combine to create one split-site primary school

  • Wadham in Crewkerne would change from an upper to a secondary

  • Middle schools Ashlands, St Bartholemews and Maiden Beech would become primaries as would first schools in Merriott and Haselbury Plucknett

A lack of sufficient student numbers is the driving force behind the council's proposals. Credit: ITV News West Country

Cllr Faye Purbrick, Cabinet Member for Education at Somerset County Council said: "This proposal is not about one system being better than the other.

"The three-tier system works perfectly well, and in Crewkerne and Ilminster it's delivering a good standard of education but what we don't have are the pupil numbers to sustain that.

"So if we don't look at changing the system so that we have got the right number of places for the pupils in the area then there's a risk that, even with the amazing work the teachers in the area do, things will start to get worse in the future."

The public consultation on the proposals ends on, Friday 11 December. If the plan does go ahead, changes to the schools will be in place by September 2022.

Those who want to take part in the consultation can do so by filling out the online questionnaire here.


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