U-turn over school expansions

GOVERNORS of two Portishead schools involved in an expansion row have withdrawn their support for the proposals.

In a letter to parents, the governing body of High Down Infant School said when the proposals were put forward by North Somerset Council to create much-needed school places, they felt morally obliged to support it in principle, as their policy is to put the welfare of children first.

However they have now said, due to the level of concern from members of the community, they have reconsidered this proposal.

Having attended consultation meetings, the governors said: “From the information we have at present, we feel we cannot support the current proposal to make the infant school into a primary school.”

On September 11, the governing body of High Down Junior School advised parents that they too have taken a u-turn.

Earlier in the year they agreed to work with the local authority to consider the possibility of the junior school becoming a primary school. They raised a number of concerns including transport, parking and road safety, siblings across two schools and extending the school.

They requested detailed plans with regards to their concerns but these have failed to materialise. As a result the governors issued a letter to parents saying: “We are withdrawing our support by no longer working on possible plans for the junior school to become a primary school.”

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Two action groups have been set-up to fight the proposals to make the two High Down schools 420-place primary schools – one by with a petition against the expansion and one to campaign for more schools places in the Village Quarter area where they are needed.

In July, two public meetings were held to get the views of the community, but residents said insufficient information was available to allow them to reach a decision.

North Somerset Council says it has now added the information requested to the original consultation document, which can be views online at http://consult.n-somerset.gov.uk.

Council leader Nigel Ashton, said: “It is definitely not a done deal and we are looking at a number of options to see what can be done. We need and want people’s feedback to help us reach a decision.”

The first stage of consultation has been extended until October 12 and an additional consultation meeting has been arranged for Monday between 6.30-8pm at Somerset Hall in High Street.

Any further queries can be directed to North Somerset Council’s school organisation team on 01275 884 727 or email school.organisation@n-somerset.gov.uk

* An online petition against the expansion of the schools has been set up by High Down Action Group, which can be found at http://tinyurl.com/HDPetition

A Village Quarter Parents Group has also been set up which is campaigning for more school places in lower Portishead, near to the new housing estates where much of the demand is. More information can be found at www.facebook.com/pages/The-Village-Quarter-Parent-Group/498870453459922?ref=hl