Crawley school merger would ‘benefit the children’

jpco 5-3-14 David Tow is the new head teacher at Broadfield East Junior School (Pic by Jon Rigby) SUS-140227-145443001
jpco 5-3-14 David Tow is the new head teacher at Broadfield East Junior School (Pic by Jon Rigby) SUS-140227-145443001

Parents are to be consulted about plans to merge two schools to form an all-through primary.

Broadfield East Infants and Junior Schools, in Vulcan Close, hope to become one unit by September 2016, with the consultation due to start after the summer holidays.

Jim McGough, chair of governors for both schools, said of the merger: “We believe that it will improve the strength of the school. There’s massive evidence that all-through primary schools are beneficial to children’s education.”

Both schools are members of the TKAT family (The Kemnal Academies Trust) with whom Mr McGough and his fellow governors held discussions before announcing the plans to parents.

He said he was confident the plan would be well received and added: “The government and the academy trust makes the final decision but if there was a big indication that people were unhappy, we would have to investigate why. I’m confident there’s no great under-swell of negative opinion. The consultation is about hearing what people think.”

Among the reasons given for the proposed merger was the “seamless transition” children would undergo as they were educated from nursery through to Year 6 without having to change schools.

Mr McGough, 67, said removing the upheaval of switching schools would help children to maintain their standards of education, and added: “No matter how hard you try, there’s always a drop in performance. That would be eradicated.”

He pointed out parents currently had to apply for their children to attend the junior school even if they were already in the infant school. While the vast majority of youngsters did move up, Mr McGough said removing that administrative hurdle would make the process much smoother.

Clearly enthusiastic about the benefits of a merger for the schools and their neighbourhood, he added: “Broadfield has a strong identity. I was a councillor there for 11 years and I’ve always taken the view that, to get greater community cohesion you have to have schools that remain strong.

“The schools provide a lot of the glue that binds the community together. Their reputation has always been sound.

“Broadfield is a vibrant young community and there are challenges and these schools have to perform really sharply. Our intent is to keep getting better.” Final approval for the merger would come from the Secretary of State.

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