Schools full up - action to tackle potential crisis

AN ACTION plan is being drawn up to ask North Somerset secondary schools to take pupils as young as four.

The local education authority has sent draft proposals to headteachers in an attempt to deal with an anticipated shortage of places.

North Somerset Council says it cannot confirm which schools have been approached and which areas could be affected most by the building of thousands of new homes in the district in the coming years.

Draft proposals include expanding popular and successful schools across multiple sites and converting first and junior schools into primary schools.

But the most radical change - outlined in papers sent to secondary schools, seen by the Times - show how headteachers are being asked if they would consider applying for academy status ready to take younger children, aged four to 16, in special units on their sites.

It is not yet known what the response has been from teachers, but one primary school head, who asked not to be named, urged caution.

She said: “As teachers, our number one priority is always the welfare of pupils, and provided any changes have an ethos of pupil care at their core, it could be a successful idea.

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“But if this is about cost-cutting, or a reactionary move because authorities have been blind-sided by the influx of new housing, and pupils’ attainment and wellbeing suffer, then there will be a huge backlash.”

However, the council document insists any changes will be aimed at fulfilling its vision of ‘21st century learning facilities’ for all pupils.

The detailed draft document says: “New learning facilities will be needed based at the heart of these communities with new school places, preschool and youth facilities available from the commencement of increased demand.

“North Somerset should look to ensure that all learning establishments within the district are committed to working together to meet the best interests of children and families.”