Should Our Schools Amalgamate?
This was the question I, and about 30 other parents and interested parties, found ourselves discussing this morning in the lower school hall.
Currently our children go to two schools, an infant and a junior one that effectively share a site. The infant school is run on the lower floor of the 1930′s brick building, the junior school is situated upstairs. We are lucky in that the schools have enough grounds that each school has their own, separate concrete playground and a good-sized school field. The schools have separate heads, and teaching and admin staff; the only thing they really share is the welfare room and a uniform.
This means that in the September that the children enter Year 3, they leave the staff and building they have known for the last 3 years and move up to the junior school. They are gently acclimatised beforehand and introduced to their teachers and shown around what will be their new school while they are in Year 2. I’ve had two children go through the change of schools now with very little trouble. DD3 will go up to the Junior school next year and I’m expecting her to take it in her stride as well. But I can see how it would be easier on the children if there were just one school, with the same staff and way of doing things throughout their primary school life.
I’ve had a child at the school for the last 7 years and this is how it’s always been. But a couple of months ago, we got a newsletter saying that the junior school Head intended to retire come the end of this school year and we’d be informed later what this meant for the school. You can imagine the playground conversations, I’m sure.
Would the junior school Deputy take over the Head’s position? Would we get a new junior school Head? Or would the first school Head take over the whole school?
As time went by, and new pieces of paper made their way home, it became apparent that the later scenario is the policy of our local council. They would prefer both schools to amalgamate with the existing first school Head taking over as Head of them both. But first, parents and other interested parties ( teachers and other staff) have to be consulted. So that’s what I was doing this morning; listening to the council and Board of Governors talk about, and answer any questions about what amalgamation would mean for our schools.
I went along thinking amalgamation was a good thing, as I know and like the first school Head and think they would do a good job as Head of an amalgamated primary school. But I knew there would be a significant funding cut if we amalgamated and was curious to see if we could find out exactly how big this cut would be compared to the whole school budget. And I wanted to see what the general mood towards merging the schools was and hear what other questions people had.
It was an interesting experience. People’s main concerns revolve around the cut funding going from two schools to one, whether their children’s education would be affected, the possibility of job losses and whether a Head teacher responsible for just over 600 children would be ‘spread too thin’. All questions were taken on board and discussed if appropriate and I came away feeling more knowledgeable about what a merger might entail than I did when I went in.
I feel reasonably happy about what is being proposed, but it was obvious that not everyone at the meeting felt same way so we will have to wait until May to find out what will happen to our schools.
It’s going to be along 4 months as if we don’t amalgamate we will be getting a new junior school head, which will affect two of my children next year anyway.
In the meantime, is there anyone out there whose children go to a recently amalgamated school? Do you have any words of wisdom for us?