7 schools facing axe

Cantley Sycamore Primary School supporters, mum Jodie Aspden, with her daughter Layla Aspden, aged one, son Bradley Aspden (front, left), aged three, Logan Barrow (front, centre), also aged three, and Rauri Symon, aged two and a half.
Cantley Sycamore Primary School supporters, mum Jodie Aspden, with her daughter Layla Aspden, aged one, son Bradley Aspden (front, left), aged three, Logan Barrow (front, centre), also aged three, and Rauri Symon, aged two and a half.
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UP to seven Doncaster primary schools could be closed over the next few years.

A report which will go before Doncaster Council on Monday reveals the authority is planning to slash surplus places at borough schools by 2014.

The council has already revealed proposals to close Sycamore Primary School, and parents there have started fighting the plans.

But the a document which forms part of the borough’s budget proposals states that by March 2014 there will be 10 to 15 per cent fewer school places in the borough’s primary schools.

It states: “Ten per cent could equate to the having five to seven fewer primary schools through closure and/or amalgamation of schools.”

It adds the council is looking at the preparation and implementation of a School Organisation Plan with measures needed cut the places.

It is among a list of changes which are listed in the budget plans, which also include the removal of school crossing patrols, a 17 per cent rise in school dinner prices, higher car park fees, the closure of two old people’s homes, two social education centres and a day centre.

Councillors have raised concerns about the proposals to close more schools.

Comunity group leader Coun Martin Williams said he thought the plans would worry parents in the borough.

He said under the Government’s ‘big society’ plans, he thought communities should he able to decide if their schools were kept, rather than Doncaster Council bosses.

He said: “I’m a great believer in local amenities for local people. You have the fabric of society at local level, and schools are the hub of the community. Once you start getting rod of them, they never come back. My concern is it an excuse to save money.

“Governments have been banging on about smaller class sizes, and this will surely make them bigger.”

He added primary schools had been the borough’s greatest success in league tables in recent years and he thought it would be a mistake to get rid of good schools.

Conservative leader Coun Allan Jones said: “For the last few years or more primary schools in some areas have not attained pupil numbers. Being a political hot potato any decisions have been deferred.

“Under the Primary rebuild programme this aspect would have be part of the consideration. Due to central change in direction and thinking this issue has come to the fore.”

He said he hoped any proposals would involve the borough’s scrutiny committees in the decision process, which he did not feel was the case when library closures were discussed, which he described as a “fiasco”.

Jim Board, Doncaster branch secretary of the public sector workers union Unison, said consultation had yet to start on a schools organisation plan.

He added: “Unison condemns the decision to move forward on consultation to close Sycamore Primary School, and we are absolutely opposed to closing good local primary schools.”

Doncaster Council’s Director of the Children and Young People’s Service, Chris Pratt, said: “Due to there being a high number of surplus places, 16 per cent in Doncaster, we are committed to ensuring resources are used more efficiently and towards the direct teaching of children, rather than the management of buildings.

“We anticipate there will be fewer primary schools, however the reported figure is an estimate at this stage, and not precise. A local authority review of primary school organisation across Doncaster is ongoing and no final decisions have been made.”