Calls to support town school amid pupil shortages

Nailsea School is looking to attract new pupils to help with declining numbers,

Nailsea School is looking to attract new pupils to help with declining numbers, - Credit: Archant

Fears have been raised over the future of Nailsea School due to falling pupil numbers.

Headteacher Chris Wade has asked Nailsea Town Council for financial help to pay for a minibus to ferry children from surrounding towns and villages to Nailsea School.

At a town council meeting on May 11, members expressed concerns over the falling numbers and said the situation could get worse if they did not act.

Chairman David Packham said: “Pupil numbers at Nailsea School are not as healthy as we’d like them to be. They currently have about 1,000 pupils, but the numbers are declining, and the school was built for 1,500.

“For whatever reason, not all pupils from Nailsea are going to Nailsea School, a lot are going to Backwell.”

Cllr Clare Hunt added: “There’s absolutely no reason whatsoever why we should have any doubt that Nailsea School is the best school for our own residents and by providing a bus we are showing that.

“The main problem is the demographics of our town. It’s only going to get worse if we don’t act now.

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“Our school deserves to have everybody in it. We should be asking people to support our school, the excellent headteacher and staff and the facilities which are second-to-none.”

Nailsea is currently struggling with a declining population and an increasing number of elderly people compared to young families.

These demographics have been blamed for falling pupil numbers as well as improved education standards in Bristol, leading to fewer people travelling out of the city to schools such as Nailsea and St Katherine’s in Pill.

Headteacher Chris Wade said: “Our numbers are falling because there aren’t enough pupils in Nailsea’s primary schools.

“We are trying to do anything we can to increase the numbers because we’ve got a great school with fantastic facilities and brilliant staff.

“We would use a bus to bring in students from surrounding villages, so we would be looking at where there’s a need and where people are applying from.”

Councillors pledged their support for the school and suggested arranging a meeting with governors and the headteacher to find out what more they can do.

Cllr Rod Hull said: “I’ve heard from parents they have real concerns about the future of this school.

“I suggest we have a meeting with the governors and headteacher and talk to them about what’s going on, their strategy and how we, as a council, can really help them get through this as well as helping with the bus. Let’s look at the bigger picture.”